Mineral Resources in the 1990s
The mineral industry of Newfoundland and Labrador is critical to the economic health of the province. Foreign exports of mining products had been rising in value from the early 1990s and were, at the time, commonly of greater value than those of forestry, fish or refined petroleum products.
Claim staking and exploration expenditures since 1995 have shown a dramatic increase, prompted by mineral discoveries in Labrador (Voisey's Bay) and oil exploration offshore.
The mineral commodity of greatest importance to the provincial economy in the 1990s was iron ore, mined in the Labrador City area. The province produced 55% of Canada's total, some of which was smelted in Ontario, while the remainder was shipped to Germany, the USA, Britain and Japan.
In the 1990s wages earned by miners represented 21% of all wages and salaries in the province, an amount proportionally much greater than the number of people involved in the industry. Living standards in Labrador City and Wabush, the largest mining centres, were high compared to many other parts of the province because of high wage levels in the mining industry.
At Hope Brook on the southwest coast, the province's only gold mine was reopened in 1992 and produced gold worth more than $45 million during 1993. Meanwhile mineral exploration companies were actively investigating dozens of other gold and base-metal (copper, lead, zinc) occurrences both on the island and in Labrador.
Structural materials (e.g., building stone, and gravel aggregate for cement) ranked third in economic importance. However, this industry was expected to grow steadily, with increasing world recognition of Newfoundland and Labrador's potential for attractive building stone ("dimension stone"). Trial quarrying and intensive marketing of several high-quality rock types began, and the response was promising. Quarries were being developed at Nain (anorthosite), Goose Arm and Roddickton (marble), Borney Lake, Lumsden, Seal Cove, Cat Arm, Petites and Topsails (granite), and Nut Cove (slate). Aggregate quarries throughout the province supplied local demand and some eastern USA markets.