An industrial mineral is any non-metallic, non-fuel rock or mineral that is extracted and processed for its economic value. Resources such as limestone, gypsum and building stone have been mined or quarried in New Brunswick for more than three centuries.
From the early 1800’s until the 1950’s these commodities were mainstays of the provincial mining industry. New Brunswick is host to a number of industrial minerals including limestone, gypsum, aggregate materials, building and natural stone, silica, graphite and marl.
The Geological Surveys Branch (GSB) of the Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development maintains an inventory of New Brunswick’s industrial mineral resources. The key objectives are: 1) to promote industrial mineral exploration and investment in New Brunswick, and 2) to provide support to existing industrial minerals industries in New Brunswick.
- Conduct fieldwork to produce maps and reports that describe the geology, development, and production of New Brunswick’s industrial minerals.
- Maintain a geological database of industrial minerals and related technical information.
- Advise industry about New Brunswick’s industrial mineral potential and favourable geological environments for exploration.
- Land use planning, environmental assessment and other resource management issues.
Limestone and Gypsum
Limestone, a sedimentary rock composed largely of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), and related substances such as dolomite (a calcium-magnesium carbonate), marl (a carbonate-rich mud), quicklime (an artificial substance made by burning calcium carbonate at high temperatures to produce calcium oxide), gypsum (CaSO4 2H2O) and anhydrite (CaSO4), are important industrial resources that are found throughout the province. The Province currently has several active limestone quarries that occur in diverse geologic environments throughout the province.
Aggregate is a term used to describe: (1) naturally occurring deposits of sand and gravel; usually referred to as granular aggregate, and (2) fragmental rock material derived from the mechanical crushing of bedrock: generally referred to as crushed rock or bedrock aggregate. The GSB maintains a Granular Aggregate Inventory and a Bedrock Aggregate Inventory to facilitate effective management of these important resources. There is increasing demand for high-quality construction aggregate from tidewater locations in Atlantic Canada. One of the most promising sites in the region is in northern New Brunswick near the modern, deep-water port of Belledune.
Dimension and Natural Stone
Dimension stone and natural stone resources found in New Brunswick have a wide range of applications. Granite and sandstone are quarried for building stone, curbing and monuments, and flagstone, fieldstone and other natural stone resources are used for landscaping and decorative applications.
Silica resources are geological deposits that are enriched in quartz and/or other silica minerals. The Cassidy Lake deposit near Sussex is the only silica resource currently being developed in the Province. This deposit consists of unconsolidated silica sand and gravel of Cretaceous age, an economically important source of silica found at only a limited number of sites throughout the Atlantic region.
Graphite is a form of naturally occurring carbon that has high thermal and electrical conductivity and is chemically inert, making it suitable for a number of industrial applications. Graphite is currently not produced in the province but there are several small graphite occurrences found throughout the province