The first gold discoveries in Newfoundland and Labrador were in the 1870’s. Although the height of the gold rush was relatively short lived, for a while there were many men prospecting the area in search of gold. Many of them ventured north from the eastern United States.
The Baie Verte Fault runs across the country and is a dividing line where host rock changes from oceanic rock to continental rocks to the west. This fault line is an area where a variety of commercial viable minerals are now mined, including gold.
Originally, it was copper that attracted men to this area. Rich discoveries at Tilt Cove caused much excitement during the early days in the region. Thousands of tons in copper ore were mined in Terra Nova during the first few years of the discoveries. These ores contained low-grade amounts of gold.
Although the gold deposits in Newfoundland have been known for nearly 150 years, it was relatively recently that new discoveries caused a renewed interest in the area. In 1976, new deposits were found near Cape Ray that caused much excitement. Hope Brook was another location of renewed excitement when new mineralized deposits were found a few years later.
These discoveries timed very poorly with the price of gold at the time. With prices slumping very low after being at record highs during the 1980, there was little interest or money for exploration companies to invest significant amounts into these newly discovered deposits in Newfoundland, though exploration efforts continued and still do to this day.
Rising gold prices over the past decade have renewed interest in gold mining here. Mining activity has been high in Newfoundland and Labrador, and several large Canadian mining companies are prospecting in the province.
Some of the gold deposits are associated with greenstone belts that contain low grade concentrations of gold. Additionally, much of the gold that is currently being mined in this region is coming as by-product of base metal mines.
Not all of the gold is a low-grade though. Some spectacular large gold specimens have been mined at the Nugget Pond Mine.
The Goldenville deposit near Ming’s Bight is once again seeing a renewed interest since gold was first found here in the 1870’s.
In Labrador especially, the occurrences of gold associated with the Canadian Shield are of particular interest to geologist. It is believed that there are most likely many more undiscovered mineralized pockets waiting to be found here, but the remote nature of this mineralized areas has certainly limited exploration.
Much like the rich gold deposits in Ontario, not all of the gold that is found here is easy to located by sampling placers. To the contrary, often some of the richest gold mines do not produce sufficient sized gold particles that they can be accumulated in placers.
Therefore, much of the exploration work is left to the larger companies in the area, and small-scale individual prospectors have not been attracted to the region in search of gold.
Also Read: Gold Nuggets and Placer Deposits of Quebec
This is not necessarily true for all areas though. Although less common, there are some mines in Newfoundland and Labrador that have produced large, free-milling gold that could easily be found with a metal detector or captured in a gold pan.
Mining has played an important part in the industry of the region. With limited natural resources and a low population, copper and gold mining in Newfoundland and Labrador has played an integral part in the historical development of the region.
And will the rising prices of gold over the past decade, it is likely that exploration and development will continue here for many years to come as additional discoveries area made.
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