The mining industry in Albert County has a long and interesting history. Few places in the world can boast of having such a diverse selection of mineral resources in such a small area. Within the boundaries of Albert County deposits of such minerals as gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper, manganese, gypsum, oil and gas, and natural gas have all been mined. 

The most unique mineral ever harvested in Albert County was a shiny black hydrocarbon similar in appearance to coal which is found only in Albert County, hence it was given the name ‘Albertite'.

A sample of the mineral 'Albertite'.

Albertite was first discovered in Albert Mines in 1820 by Gould Hoar who discovered a deposit of the mineral under an uprooted tree. At first no one realized albertite's potential value as a source of fuel, because it was a new previously unknown mineral and its properties had not yet been determined. Then geologist Dr. Abram Gesner began to experiment on albertite. It was from these experiments that he first derived kerosene. The discovery of kerosene would make him world famous. Prior to the discovery of kerosene, whale oil was the most commonly used fuel in oil lamps. However, over harvesting of whales had led to an increase in whale oil prices, that combined with a high demand for whale oil, led to more research into alternative fuel sources. Kerosene provided the world with an inexpensive fuel source for oil lamps. It was easier and cheaper to produce kerosene from mined materials rather than send sailors on voyages around the world in search of whales. The process Dr. Gesner discovered for deriving kerosene from albertite was later used to produce other petroleum fuels including oil and gas.

In 1850, the bursting of a sawmill dam combined with annual spring floods eroded the banks of a river in Albert Mines and revealed a huge deposit of albertite.

This photograph shows a view of Albert Mines N.B. around 1860.
Albert Mines, New Brunswick, Canada

In 1852, Dr. Gesner claimed the discovery of this new mineral and petitioned the government to have the rights to mine this mineral awarded to him and his company. Another company argued that the mineral was another form of coal. Since they already owned the rights to mine coal in the area, they argued that they should be given the rights to mine this new mineral as well. The two companies would feud for years to the point of fist fights and guns being drawn at the mine entrance. Dr. Gesner lost his lawsuit but it was later shown that he was in fact correct, albertite is not a type of coal. The mineral, shiny black in appearance, is very brittle to the touch. It can be thought of almost as a form of congealed gasoline, since 57% of the mineral is combustible matter.

Albertite mining in Albert Mines started in 1854 and lasted until 1884.

The entrance to an 'Albertite' mine in Albert Mines.
Albert Mines, New Brunswick, Canada

he mine was still profitable when it closed in 1884. However, the mine owners apparently believed that the mine would soon become unprofitable, even though there were still large supplies of albertite left in the ground. Captain James Blight would later open another albertite mine below Hillsborough, however, this operation only lasted for a few years. Most of the mined albertite was sent to Boston to be used to enrich illuminating gas.

However, since Dr. Gesner could not obtain a steady supply of the mineral, because the mining rights were held by another company, albertite was not used in the production of kerosene.

Other minerals mined in the area included copper and manganese.