CHAPTER VII.--PROSPECTS FOR THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE.
3. MINERAL POSSIBILITIES.
455. The mines at Bell
Island and Buchans are the only working mines in the country, but coal is
known to exist on the west coast, and copper, silver, nickel, chromium,
antimony, asbestos, and venadium are also found in various parts of the
Island. Newfoundland is composed of the most ancient rock formations and
it has been claimed that traces of almost every metallic substance have
been discovered in the Island.*
which may be said to have begun with the opening, in 1864, of the Union
Mine at Tilt Cove in Notre Dame Bay, was for many years one of the Island's
main industries. The success of the Union Mine led to the opening of mines
at Bett's Head and Little Bay in 1875 and 1878, and several mines of less
importance, all situated in the area of Notre Dame Bay, became small
producers at later periods. Among other mines worked in the past may
be mentioned the "Terra Nova" mine at Baie Verte, the mine at Gull Lake,
south of Hall's Bay, and that at York Harbour, Bay of Islands. By 1918,
however, the copper mines of the Island had either been worked out or had
ceased to be profitable and no copper-mining has been undertaken since
that date. Indications of copper are said to occur all round the coast
and it is therefore within the bounds of possibility that fresh discoveries
may lead to renewed operations.
457. The coalfields
of the west coast are situated on St. George's Bay and are estimated at
136 square miles. Many surveys of this area have been made by geological
experts during the last hundred years, but lack of capital has so far
prevented its development. There are said to be five seams measuring
three feet and upwards, giving a total thickness of 21 feet, and an
estimated yield of 147,000,000 tons. The coal has been pronounced by
experts to be of good quality, bituminous and free from sulphur. The
land on which the coal is situated is held either in fee simple or under
lease from the Crown by the St. George's Coal Fields, Ltd., of St. John's.
Following the enactment of special legislation in 1919 this Company was
granted certain special concessions, designed to facilitate the
development of the coal-fields, including the offer of a bounty of
75 cents a ton on all coal mined and consumed in the Island, but no
active mining operations have yet been undertaken.
||St. George's Harbour, looking South, n.d.
Photographer unknown. From the album of photographs furnished to the Newfoundland Royal Commission, August 1933. Courtesy of the Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archives (Coll-207), Memorial University of Newfoundland Library, St. John's, Newfoundland.
458. In general,
it may be said that the possibilities of mineral development in
Newfoundland have been by no means exhausted. Petroleum also occurs
in the north-west of the Island and may one day prove a profitable
source of revenue. Labrador has not yet been scientifically surveyed
but hopes are held out that valuable minerals exist there in commercial
quantities, and prospecting for gold is now in progress. The
potentialities of this vast territory are discussed in the following
The Port at Botwood.
Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company's shipping port is at Botwood,
an outport with a population of approximately 2,000, situated on
tidewater at the mouth of the Exploits River, which flows into Notre
Dame Bay, at a distance of 22 miles from Grand Falls; this port is also
used by the Buchans Mining Company. There are three large wharves at
Botwood and cargo-steamers of any size can lie there in safety while
loading paper from Grand Falls or the concentrates from Buchans Mine,
or unloading coal, sulphur, limestone, pulpwood, etc. Botwood is closed
with ice for the best part of four months of the year--January to April.
The production of the Paper Mill during these months has, therefore, to
be stored and there are nine large storage sheds at Botwood with a total
holding capacity for 40,000 tons of newsprint reels.
Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company own and operate a private
railway between Botwood and Grand Falls, over which they carry their
production of newsprint to the shipping port at Botwood and bring up
supplies of coal, sulphur, a small portion of their pulpwood
requirements and other supplies to the Mill. The Buchans Mining
Company have a private line, which, starting from Buchans, connects
with the private line of the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company
at Millertown Junction. From this point to Botwood use is made of the
latter Company's line.
461. From the
standpoint of tonnage Botwood handles more business than any other
port in Newfoundland; the present tonnage is approximately as follows:--
Tons per annum.
| Paper .............................................
Zinc and Lead concentrates ...........
| Coal ...............................................
General cargo ................................
462. The port is
also used for the shipping of pulpwood which has been cut at different
parts of the Island and shipped to Botwood for transmission by rail to
the Paper Mills at Grand Falls.
463. About 80 men
are regularly employed by the Company at Botwood, and during open
water--May to December--some 200 additional men are continuously
engaged in the stevedoring business.
464. The Buchans
Mining Company own large sheds at Botwood, where their output of
concentrates is stored during the winter months; the shipping of
these concentrates takes place from May to December.
465. Although the statement
has been frequently made during the last 50 years that Newfoundland is a country
with great agricultural possibilities, agriculture has not yet been undertaken
on any intensive scale. A certain amount of mixed farming is carried on in the
Avalon Peninsula and on the southern portion of the west coast, but, in general,
agriculture is regarded as a subsidiary occupation to fishing. The shortness of
the season; the fact that soils of Newfoundland, except in a few localities, are
not naturally fertile; and the distribution of the people round the coast rather
than in the interior, have all contributed to this attitude of mind.
466. There are a certain
number of farms of about 100 to 200 acres, but, in general, Newfoundland is a
country of smallholders, most of the "farms" or "gardens" being little more
than allotments which serve to provide the fisherman with potatoes and other
vegetables for winter consumption. In good fishing seasons, cultivation is apt
to be neglected; it is only when the fishery fails to yield a livelihood that
the land receives the attention it deserves.
* J.P. Howley, Evidence before Dominions Royal Commission, 1914, United Kingdom Parliamentary Papers, C. 7898, 1915, p. 81.
Image description updated May, 2004.