How Newfoundland Evolved into a Gold Exploration Destination

Canada has always been known for its gold mineralization industry. There’s the Golden Triangle in Northern British Columbia as well as the White Gold District in the Yukon. Of course, we can’t forget about the prolific Abitibi Greenstone Belt that runs through Northern Ontario and Quebec. However, there seems to be an unexpected and often overlooked hidden gem in the gold sector.

Newfoundland and Labrador is the most easterly province in Canada and is the last thing you’ll probably think of when talking about gold mining. Although not often on investors’ radar screens, Newfoundland and Labrador actually has an extensive mining history. Let’s explore what makes this island so special in terms of its beauty and its contribution to the gold mining industry of Canada.

How Gold Mining Started in Newfoundland

Newfoundland, as it was known before, started a small-scale mining operation back in the 1770s. Eventually, it evolved into a major industry in the 1860s because of the discovery of major copper at Notre Dame Bay and the Wabana iron ore deposits on Bell’s Island.

After a couple of decades, another development happened near the town of Buchans, located in central Newfoundland. It was at this time that a lead-zinc-copper deposit was discovered, but it was quite difficult to mine at the time. This is because of the absence of a good milling process at that time. Milling is required to make it possible to separate mineral sulphides. 

It was only in 1925 that ASARCO metallurgists were able to develop an effective extraction method that proved to be crucial to the growth and development of Buchan’s mining industry. This helped the area get more people to be interested in investing in Newfoundland. At its peak, the town of Buchans hosted five separate mines and was able to produce 17.5 million tons of ore and minerals during its 55 years of operation. It was only in 1984 that it stopped and was shut down.

The Rise and Decline of Mining in Newfoundland

The 1930s seemed to be the golden age of mining in Newfoundland. Four of its biggest mines located in Buchans, Wabash, Schefferville, and Labrador City accounted for more or less 90% of Newfoundland’s gross production value. However, since mining is mainly affected by economic and price cycles, it’s still considered a volatile industry, which eventually led to the industry’s decline during the 1960s.

Renewed Interest In Gold Exploration

In recent years, however, there seems to be a renewed interest in Newfoundland’s gold reserves. There’s a noticeable sharp increase in the number of gold explorations in the area due to the run-up in gold prices to record levels. In 2019, mining represented about 5.5% of the province’s GDP, making Newfoundland and Labrador second only in iron ore production right next to Quebec. 


With more and more companies showing a renewed interest in mineral exploration and mining projects in the area, Newfoundland and Labrador seem to be in a modern-day gold rush that gives rise to its long-forgotten mining history.

Newfoundland Gold is an alliance of companies focused on advancing mineral exploration and mining projects in Canada’s Newfoundland. Mining in Newfoundland is one of the province’s largest and oldest industries up to date, and we continue this legacy through this alliance built by some of the province’s mining industry giants. Sign up for our newsletter to receive updates about the Canadian gold sector as well as our partners.