Mining is one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest and oldest industries, and a major contributor to the economy of the province, especially in rural areas. More than fifteen mineral commodities have been produced or mined in the province. Five metal mines currently produce iron ore, nickel, copper, cobalt and gold. Other operations mine pyrophyllite, limestone and dolomite, amongst other commodities. The mining and mineral exploration companies directly provide high-paying jobs to more than 7000 men and women throughout the Province. Expenditures by these companies find their way into all corners of Newfoundland and Labrador.
One of the largest mines in the province is in Labrador City, where the Iron Ore Company of Canada operates. The miner recently announced the opening of the Moss Pit, a $79 million investment that will extend the life of the mine by about 10 years, and reduce operating costs.
This past summer, Brazilian mining company Vale announced that it would proceed with construction of an underground mine at Voisey’s Bay, extending operations by at least 15 years and creating 1,700 jobs. Construction is already underway at the nickel-copper-cobalt mine and is expected to take about five years.
Newfoundland Hard-Rok Inc.
Firms like the Iron Ore Company of Canada and Vale employ ancillary companies at their mining sites, especially when new construction is needed. One such company is Newfoundland Hard-Rok Inc., founded by mining executive Glen McKay in 1987.
Newfoundland Hard-Rok specializes in manufacturing industrial explosives and providing drilling and blasting services. The company has evolved to become the premier full-service explosives, drilling and blasting provider in the region, with the company spinning off a new company in 2004, called Dyno Nobel Labrador Inc, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Newfoundland Hard-Rok.
Dyno Nobel Labrador was awarded a contract by Vale in 2004 to design, build and operate a bulk emission plant to supply the mine’s needs. This year, when Vale announced the expansion of Voisey’s Bay, Dyno Nobel Labrador was once more awarded the explosives contract. On October 16, 2018, the first blast was safely loaded and detonated, officially marking the start of the transition to underground mining at Voisey’s Bay.
In an interview, Glen McKay explained that part of his success as an entrepreneur lies in his ability to recognize the qualities of a good employee. “I look for self motivated, bright hard-workers with the ability to offset my weaknesses,” he said. “I operate by the simple but effective premise that if you really value your people, they in turn will increase the value of your business.”
The future of Newfoundland’s mining industry looks bright. According to a report produced by the Newfoundland government, Canada ranks in the top five producing countries for 13 major minerals and metals. Newfoundland and Labrador currently ranks fifth in Canada for value of mineral production and contributes 46% of iron ore shipments and 26% of nickel nationally. In addition, five new mines are expected to be operation by 2030, doubling the province’s annual exploration revenues to $100 million.