BAIE VERTE, N.L. — There was an ongoing joke between Labrador West MHA Graham Letto and the guest table of politicians and representatives of the 31st annual Mining Conference in Baie Verte as to where the unofficial mining capital of the province is.
What could not be argued, agreed all, is the major impact mining in this jurisdiction has on the area and the province.
“What we have in size, and size does matter, you have in value,” the parliamentary secretary to the minister of Natural Resources told the delegation Friday evening, referring to the iron ore of the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) and the gold deposits along the Baie Verte Peninsula.
“There is nothing more precious on this earth than gold.”
Letto said the district deserves applause for what it has done to support companies such as Anaconda Mining and Rambler Metals and Mining. He said the recent IOC strike certainly reinforced the impact mining companies have on a region heavily dependent on that industry.
“We just went through a nine-week strike, and it wasn’t pretty,” he said. “When you are the only industry in that town, and that industry shuts down, there are more than the 1,300 people that are on strike that suffers.
“Everybody — every man, woman and child — in that community feels the affect. As they feel the affect in the shutdown, they feel the benefits when everything is going right.”
Baie Verte Mayor Brandon Philpott said his town and the region understands that.
“Everything that goes on around here kind of centres around mining,” he said.
He is also excited about future prospects in the industry.
While not willing to jump in on the debate of the mining capital of the province, Ed Moriarty, Mining NL executive director, did have high praise for the industry on the Baie Verte Peninsula, where more than 250 people were registered for the conference.
“The heart and soul of Newfoundland’s mining sector, I will give that to the Baie Verte Peninsula,” he said.
Moriarty says the industry is critical to the province, and he said government has recognized that. There were 40,000 claims staked in 2016-17, the same number as the four years previous, according to the province’s records.
With a focus on safety, he said working together — industry, government and community — is key to future success.
Premier Dwight Ball says government can help support the mining industry by ensuring communities and regions are attractive for capital investment. He referenced the recent report from the Fraser Institute recognizing Newfoundland and Labrador as the 11th most attractive jurisdiction in the world for investment in mining.
“Money goes where money is wanted, it is as simple as that,” Ball said. “If we are going to attract the best in our province, we must make sure the environment in our province is a friendly environment to invest.”
The success of mining is directly felt in the communities they exist, according to the premier.
He said the future of the province is bright, due in large part because of the impact of the mining industry.
“There are not too many jurisdictions you look at no matter where you go, and I get an opportunity to speak with other premiers and other leaders around the country, that have the amount of natural resources we have,” he said. “The focus on us is to work with industry leaders to make sure we extract those untapped potentials we have in our province.”