"Despite some fluctuations in commodities the news in recent months points to rebounds for minerals like iron ore,” she said.
Iron ore, which has been the backbone of the Labrador economy, rose to all-time highs of over $180 a ton. Last year it had fallen just over 40, and now has been at about 75 in recent weeks.
Coady told the delegates that with the recent announcement of the sale of Wabush mines, things are looking brighter for the Labrador West area. She also pointed out to the work being done by Tata Steel near Schefferville, and just across the border at the Arcellor Mittal facility in Mt. Wright. As well, plans are underway to reopen the Bloom Lake mine, which closed a couple of years ago.
"We are working with Quebec to find ways we can work together in developing the Labrador trough which runs between both provinces,” Coady told the audience. "There are certainly ways we can work together that will benefit both provinces and help the economy of the region grow.”
The Minister also acknowledged that there are headwinds to face in some cases; commodity prices like nickel have fallen. Despite a review by Vale, and a recent announcement that the underground plans for Voisey’s Bay were put on hold, she told delegates that she is confident the project will eventually go ahead.
During the slower times, government has been encouraging exploration and discovery. She says work has been done on many mapping projects that will promote exploration. Northern Labrador and the Ashuanipi area of Western Labrador have great potential she explained. There is an effort to find and develop rare earth minerals, as she made reference to a project near Port Hope Simpson.
She also had an interesting fact to pass along, in 2015 there were 3256 claims staked. Coady says so far in 2017 that number is 10,717.
Coady says the government will work with colleges to make sure the skilled people needed are trained and ready for work, and they are working with Mining NL to encourage development.
Finally, she paid tribute to the many industry leaders, and the skilled expertise of the delegates at the symposium, saying there has been a lot of positive development and success in the provinces mining industry. She called on those to be innovative and to keep working to ensure we remain competitive in an industry that faces tough competition from around the world.
There will be more on some of the presentations and exhibitions from MINEx in next week’s edition of the Aurora.