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International Nickel Company of Canada Limited INCO

The International Nickel Company of Canada Ltd. was established in 1916 as a Canadian operating subsidiary until 1928 when it became the parent company. INCO was its commonly known name until 1976 when it became simply, Inco Limited.

O'Donnell Roast Yard

A portion of INCO's roast yard at O'Donnell where ore was delivered by special 100-ton ore cars;
then distributed by the bridge onto the piles. Piles, in the background are smouldering. INCO

At O'Donnell, "green" ore direct from the mines in both Algoma Eastern and INCO dump cars is being transhipped to the special INCO 100-ton transfer cars, used to feed the roast yard bridge (above). INCO

Ore was roasted in huge heaps in the open for many years. The roast yard had four tracks 7500 feet long with piles between containing about a quarter of a million tons of ore. This roasting was begun by laying 4-foot cordwood of good quality, in a rectangular area about 100 feet long and 60 feet wide. The finished bed contained about 5,000 tons of ore, which was then set on fire. As the wood burned away, the ore settled down, developing cracks in the surface of the bed. This was a critical time in the process, and bed trimmers were constantly on the alert, during the first week or two of the burning, to close these cracks as quickly as possible. After the subsidence was completed no more opening were likely to form requiring practically no further attention. It would burn for six or seven months, by which time the sulphur in the ore was reduced to about 10%. The roasted ore was then loaded by steam shovels into ore cars, the same ones that had brought the green ore from the mine. Open roasting produced sulphur-dioxide gas, which spread over the ground in thick, choking clouds that killed off all vegetation. This practice was outlawed in 1929 in favour of completely treating the ores in its new smelter.

Canadian Copper Company steam shovel with locomotive-style boiler, loading roasted ore. Ontario Archives

In the 1920's a major modernization included a whole new smelter complex at Copper Cliff which opened July 1, 1930. By 1926 International Nickel and Mond Nickel each owned parts of the very valuable Frood ore body and on January 1, 1929 they merged.

Frood mine open pit, circa 1950. Archives of Ontario AO3317

INCO's Frood mine and Mond mine Frood Extention.

Lawson Quarry

INCO began quarrying quartz in 1942 at Lawson Quarry near the village of Whitefish Falls on the old AER part way between Espanola and Little Current. Normal operations produced 2,100 tons per shift for rail shipment to Copper Cliff and Coniston where it was used as flux in the smelters. A company town was created at Willisville.


Producing and shipping 10,000 tons of ore per day for delivery to Clarabelle,
it remains an important part of INCO's operations in the 21st Century.

125 and126 with 64 loads of ore from Stobie enroute to Clarabelle on June 11, 1998. Leo Beaumont

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