Atlantic Canada has mined and exported mineral products to the world for more than 150 years. The region shares much common geological heritage, including a rich, diverse and widespread endowment of mineral resources. Collectively, the Atlantic Provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have seen commercial production of almost 30 different commodities. Despite this, including the discovery and development of world-class base metal and iron ore mines, and multi-million-ounce gold deposits, large parts of this region remain underexplored utilizing modern tools and new concepts.
Current production comes from 28 operating mines that produce more than a dozen different commodities, including base metals, precious metals, iron ore and industrial minerals. The value of production is significant and has varied from C$3.6 billion in 2017 to over C$6.0 billion in 2011.
Gold is currently the main exploration target, with base metals, particularly zinc and copper, a close second. Industrial minerals and specialty metals represent an important component of the Atlantic mineral sector, and exploration for these commodities proceeds apace. Improving iron ore prices are spurring positive new developments in the world-class iron district of western Labrador.
Although most current exploration is focussed in historic mining areas with available infrastructure or in highly prospective, district-scale mineral belts, new greenfields projects are ongoing. There are many advanced-stage projects with NI 43-101 compliant resources, while several have PEA, pre-feasibility and/or feasibility studies completed.
New players in the region can readily avail of Atlantic Canada’s skilled local work force, and its long tradition of mining experience and expertise. The area is home to many experienced prospectors, and an extensive network of mining service and supply companies. Governments facilitate new growth by investing heavily in infrastructure, geoscience and R&D, and by providing enhanced industry incentives, modern regulatory frameworks, and free online dissemination of extensive technical databases.