The mining industry in Atlantic Canada is experiencing a revival after several years of stagnant output and declining employment. Strong demand and high commodity prices have led companies to redevelop mothballed projects, expand existing operations such as the potash mine in New Brunswick, and proceed with the development of newly found resources such as the Voisey’s Bay and Duck Pond mines in Newfoundland and Labrador.
As a result, the value of metallic minerals produced in the Atlantic region has almost quadrupled since 2003 to reach $4.6 billion in 2006. Additional Atlantic production has come on stream in 2007 from the Duck Pond copper/zinc mine in central Newfoundland, the Caribou lead/zinc mine near Bathurst, New Brunswick and the Scotia zinc/lead mine in Gays River, Nova Scotia. These additions and further increases in prices will push Atlantic metallic production values to over $6 billion in 2007. Employment in the high-wage mining industry has also turned around (reaching 7,600 in 2006) and provincial governments are benefiting from revenue windfalls.
The high prices that are supporting increased exploration and production of Atlantic Canada’s mineral resources are expected to be maintained for at least the next few years. There will be some modest easing in prices in 2008 and 2009 as new mines add to global supplies. The Atlantic region must therefore ensure that it maintains a competitive business and regulatory climate to attract further investment in its mining sector. Aside from being able to withstand fluctuations in commodity prices, new mines will also have to address the likelihood of greater environmental scrutiny and ensure they have a robust strategy to secure the skilled workers they need.