Newfoundland is often overlooked by investors when searching for investment opportunities in the gold sector. The prolific Abitibi Greenstone Belt that runs through Northern Ontario and Quebec understandably attracts major interest, as does the Golden Triangle region of British Columbia with its many gold mines. Regions such as Newfoundland are off to the side of people’s vision.
Although not often on investor’s radar screens, Newfoundland has an extensive mining history. Small-scale mining dates back to the 1770’s, but it became a major industry only in the 1860’s, with the discovery of major copper at Notre Dame Bay and the Wabana iron ore deposits on Bell’s Island.
In 1905 a major lead-zinc-copper deposit was discovered near the town of Buchans in central Newfoundland. It was difficult to mine because there were no known milling processes that could adequately separate the mineral sulphides.
In 1925, though, ASARCO metallurgists developed an effective extraction process, gaining a 50% interest in the project. At its peak, Buchans hosted 5 separate mines and 17.5 million tons were mined over the 55 years of mining – until operations were shut down in 1984.
Although there were reports dating back to 1568 of iron ore at Bell’s Island, a small island on Conception Bay at the northern end of the avalon Peninsula, it wasn’t until the 1890’s that the massive Wabana iron ore deposits were developed and brought major interest from the mining industry.
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