Canada’s eastern oil and natural gas province of Newfoundland & Labrador is hardly thought of for mining, so you may be surprised to hear that it is the fourth-largest mineral producer in Canada.
Producing over $6.2 billion in minerals in 2021, Newfoundland & Labrador’s mining sector is a critical part of the provincial economy. It provides income for more than 8,200 families and is a key economic driver as the industry continues to grow to meet skyrocketing global demand for several minerals and metals.
Here are several facts about mining in Newfoundland & Labrador, showing just how important the sector is to the province and our country as a whole! Also see:
- Mining in Canada: 30 Facts
- Mining in Ontario: 21 Facts
- Iron Ore Mining in Canada: Everything You Need to Know
- How Much Copper Does the World Need to Reach Net Zero by 2050?
Newfoundland & Labrador Mining Facts
#1 - Mining is one of Newfoundland & Labrador’s oldest industries. The province’s first inhabitants, the Maritime Archaic Indians, quarried local stone as early at 7,500 years ago, while the first major modern mining project began in Tilt Cove in 1864 
#2 - Mining accounts for roughly 8% of Newfoundland & Labrador’s gross domestic product (GDP) 
#3 - Mining generates income for more than 8,200 families across Newfoundland & Labrador 
#4 - Mining accounts for more than 30% of Newfoundland & Labrador’s total exports, with great potential for expansion as global events shift demand for various minerals and metals 
#5 - Newfoundland & Labrador produced $6.225 billion of minerals in 2021, making it the fourth-largest provincial producer nationwide 
#6 - Mineral shipments from Newfoundland & Labrador are projected to be $5.4 billion in 2022, a slight decrease from the previous year due to lower commodity prices 
#7 - 24 of Canada’s 31 critical minerals are found in Newfoundland & Labrador, including (but not limited to) :
· Iron ore
· Rare earth elements
#8 - Mining is a significant source of employment in the province, particularly in rural areas, and is expected to generate 8,800 person-years of employment in 2022, representing a nine per cent increase over 2021 
#9 - In 2022, Newfoundland & Labrador received more than 500 mineral exploration applications with an estimated $189 million to be spent by companies on exploration activities – the most activity since 2012 given the potential for gold, iron ore and critical minerals 
#10 - Metal mines are currently in production for iron ore, nickel, copper, cobalt and gold in Newfoundland & Labrador 
#11 - As of February 2023, there were 11 mining and mineral exploration companies operating in the province, offering high-paying jobs and expenditures that help boost a wide range of income streams throughout Newfoundland & Labrador 
#12 - In 2019, a total of 19 agreements were signed by exploration and mining companies and Indigenous communities or governments in Newfoundland & Labrador 
History of Mining in Newfoundland & Labrador
Apart from Indigenous quarrying several thousand years ago, the history of mining in Newfoundland & Labrador dates back to the late 1700s, but it was not until the 1830s and 1840s that the mineralogical and geological features were explored systematically by Joseph Jukes. The focus on minerals was part of an effort to exploit the resources of the interior, which included the construction of railroads .
Startlingly, the first significant mining development occurred in Tilt Cove in 1864, which saw the production of large copper deposits and gold. Operations in Tilt Cove continued intermittently until 1967.
Other notable mining operations occurred in areas such as Terra Nova, Bett's Cove, Little Bay, and Pilley's Island. These locations produced significant amounts of copper, pyrite, and gold during different periods stretching from the late 19th century into the 20th century.
In recent years, Newfoundland’s mining sector has seen unparalleled growth, setting records in mineral dispatches. This momentum has positioned the mineral industry as a critical stimulator of economic activity in the province and a primary target for investment initiatives.
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1. Natural Resources Canada. (n.d). Minerals and the economy. Available: https://natural-resources.canada.ca/our-natural-resources/minerals-mining/mining-data-statistics-and-analysis/minerals-and-the-economy/20529. Date Accessed: September 2023.
2. Fraser Institute. (2022 June). Newfoundland and Labrador should unleash province’s mining potential. Available: https://www.fraserinstitute.org/article/newfoundland-and-labrador-should-unleash-provinces-mining-potential. Date Accessed: September 2023.
3. Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Industry, Energy and Technology. (2022 Fall). Mining in NL. Available: https://www.gov.nl.ca/iet/files/22445-Mining-in-NL-Final-for-Web-Oct-24.pdf. Date Accessed: September 2023.
4. Innovation News Network. (2023 February). The future of mining in Newfoundland and Labrador. Available: https://www.innovationnewsnetwork.com/the-future-of-mining-in-newfoundland-and-labrador/30407/. Date Accessed: September 2023.
5. Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Website. (n.d). [Title of article]. Available: https://www.heritage.nf.ca/articles/economy/mining.php. Date Accessed: September 2023.
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