The fonds consists of the records of Cominco Ltd., including those created under its previous name, the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada Limited. Most of the records were selected by Cominco from its offices in Vancouver and Trail, B.C.
The fonds includes textual records, approximately 8700 photographs, maps, films and sound recordings which include oral histories with former employees. The records document the industrial activities, personnel, and the social history of the communities where the company was active.
Documentary forms include but are not limited to: correspondence; photographs; annual reports; news clippings and scrapbooks; lab reports; payroll records; journals, ledgers, cash books and other financial records; sound recordings of interviews, oral histories and radio broadcasts; transcripts connected with the Cominco oral history project; films (including those of mining operations); maps; informational publications, pamphlets and brochures about the company; engineering and geological reports; subdivision plans and city plans; property/lot plans; and the president's files.
Subject matter includes topics such as mineral exploration, mining, smelting, fertilizer production, research and development, legal matters, finance, personnel and labour relations, public relations and advertising, company history and environmental pollution.
Topics and locations reflected in the records include but are not limited to: Trail area operations at Warfield and Tadanac; the Sullivan mine at Kimberley; the Bluebell mine and concentrator at Riondel, B.C.; the Con mine in Yellowknife, N.W.T.; the H.B. mine and concentrator at Salmo, B.C.; Calgary facilities for production of ammonia, ammonium nitrate and urea; Benson Lake (Vancouver Island) mine and concentrator; the mercury mine at Pinchi Lake, B.C.; the Box mine at Goldfields (Athabaska Lake) Saskatchewan; Wedge copper mine at Newcastle, New Brunswick; Pacific Coast Terminals Limited operations in warehousing, docking, loading and shipping at New Westminster and Port Moody, B.C.
The records document Cominco’s operations in fields such as zinc die casting through the purchase of National Hardware Specialties Limited and its plant in Dresden, Ontario. The records reflect the continuing research and development carried out at Trail, and, after the mid-1960s, at the new research centre built at Sheridan Park, Ontario.
Records of subsidiaries and affiliates include those of operations in the United States and overseas. These include but are not limited to: Cominco Products, Inc. a wholly-owned subsidiary created to carry out fertilizer warehousing, liquid fertilizer conversion and product marketing at Spokane, Washington; the development of phosphate rock mining interests in Montana; the Magmont lead mine and concentrator at Bixby, Missouri; Rubiales mine, Lugo Province, Spain; the Black Angel mine and concentrator, Marmorilik Fjord, Greenland; and Cominco Binani Zinc Limited (CBZL) in India.
Photographs and textual records document the important role played by Cominco, beginning in the 1920s, in exploring the northern regions of the four western provinces and the Northwest Territories. The company pioneered aircraft prospecting which led to the discovery of gold, uranium, oil and copper. Exploration by Cominco influenced settlement patterns and laid the foundation for the creation of an aviation service in northern Canada.
The fonds also consists of records of Cominco’s participation in the Manhattan Project's heavy water production program during World War II. Textual records are contained in series MS-2500. Photographs are contained in series MS-3176, consisting of images which include: primary plant and secondary cell plant, (including construction of, starting in November 1942); the oxygen stripper tower, booster room, cooling tower, boiler plant, and evaporator building. See the files referring to Project 9, Heavy Water, No. 9 Project, or P-9 Project.
Other notable records include those concerning the international dispute between Canada and the United States over pollution from the Trail smelter and its effects on the agricultural lands in the U.S. Cominco was involved in an international tribunal in 1932 (Trail smelter dispute) as a consequence of sulphur-bearing smoke damage to crops. See file of negative filmstrips titled Smoke Control – Mathews films Tribunal Case 1932 [photographs]. Among other topics the photographs appear to include images of areas in Idaho and Washington State. They are possibly connected with MS-2500, box 457, file 1, “Survey of agricultural conditions (Mathews) - appendix D8”, dated 1935.
The fonds also consists of records of subsidiaries, affiliates, and predecessor companies, including the West Kootenay Power and Light Company Ltd. and the Canadian North-eastern Railway Company (previously Portland Canal Short Line Railway).
The fonds consists of the following six series: MS-2500 Cominco selected records; MS-3176 Cominco photographs; AAAA1498 Cominco films; AAAA1499 Cominco sound recordings; MS-0888 Summary of the history of Cominco; MS-0015 Cominco papers.