Pemberton pumice mined for Lower Mainland market
The only pumice mine in Canada will re-open in August on the side of Mount Meager, 65 kilometres north-west of Pemberton.
Processing of the material will take place in the mine area and at a second site either in North Vancouver or the Squamish area, according to Garth Carefoot of Great Pacific Pumice Inc. Carefoot said that will mean about 1,000 truckloads of material will be on the roads during the three-month mining period, in special high-volume trucks.
Great Pacific Pumice Inc. was issued a mine development certificate last week. It will begin full-time production in August, creating three full-time jobs and six part-time jobs.
"There's an established market (for pumice) in the Lower Mainland," Carefoot said. "They're importing from Bend, Oregon. We should be able to equal that volume that's coming in from Oregon now."
The biggest market for pumice in the Lower Mainland is in the horticulture industry. The second biggest market may be in concrete, where pumice can be used as a light-weight aggregate, providing better insulation values than regular concrete and increased strength. It also has cosmetic applications and is used to stone-wash denim. There are three stone-wash factories in the Lower Mainland.
Carefoot said about 3,000 tons of pumice were brought out last fall and about 1,000 tons came out of the Owl Creek area in the fall of 1993. The mine is estimated to have reserves of five to 20 million tonnes. At a production rate of 50,000 tonnes per year there is a potential 100-year supply of pumice.
The material is loose within the ground and will not require any blasting. Carefoot said the mine itself will resemble a large gravel pit. Reclamation will be carried out throughout the life of the quarry. A 20-year mine and reclamation plan has been approved by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.
The pumice deposit has been known for some time. Carefoot said a mine was in operation between 1980 and 1984, until a creek in the area flooded and made the deposit impractical to reach.
Other pumice mines are in Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Idaho.