There were wall to wall smiles at the official announcement stating that the Scully mine in Wabush was once again open for business.
The mine closed on 2014, leaving close to 400 people without work. The impact on the economy of Labrador West was evident.
During the past four years efforts to get the mine reopened involved a lot of negotiations with governments, companies and many agencies.
Finally in July 2017 Tacora Resources announced they had closed negotiations to acquire the assets of the former Wabush Mines.
Many wondered if the company would get the required funding to reopen. A new feasibility study update was released in May of this year and in November it was official.
Tacora Recources CEO Larry Lehtinen said the finances are in place—approximately $335 million in total—and hiring is about to start.
Lehtinen told those gathered for the announcement the company is pleased financing is in place, and thanked the many people involved in getting the mine to the point it is able to open. He pointed out the efforts of political leaders in Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and federally, the Steelworkers Union, the Port of Sept Iles and their long-term equity investors.
Premier Dwight Ball said, “This will mean the return of good, long-term jobs to the area and shows the benefits of mining to the province.”
Lehtinen said they will need about 260 workers. He also announced that Bob Gagne was selected as general manager of the mine. Gagne has significant experience in the mining industry in Labrador and Lehtinen noted that’s important to the company’s operation.
When fully operational the company is looking to produce 6 to 6.5 million tons of ore per year. Lehtinen said the ore at Wabush is high quality with a content of about 65 per cent.
Lehtinen also highlighted Tacora Resources decision to install manganese separating equipment.
The current life expectancy of the mine is 25-27 years, but Lehtinen says they think there is more ore there and they intend to do what they can to extend the life of the mine.
Labrador West MHA and Municipal Affairs and Environment Minister Graham Letto thanked Tacora Resources for the commitment they showed throughout the process. He says the news is great for Labrador West. Besides the direct jobs there are many spin-off jobs for suppliers and service industry workers.
Labrador MP Yvonne Jones said Labrador West is the largest export region for iron ore in Canada, and the reopening in Wabush will reinforce that position.
For Wabush Mayor Ron Barron the news marks the end of four difficult years for the town and its residents.
Many people were out of work, businesses closed or slowed down, people had to leave their families to find work, and the town lost significant income that was derived from Cliff’s Natural Resources grant in lieu of taxes.
Barron told The Aurora, “Despite that, I was optimistic that someday the mine would reopen. We have good ore, skilled people, and a great community that will shine once again. We can breathe easier now.”
Also present for the announcement was the president of the Labrador West Chamber of Commerce, Toby Leon.
“We are excited about the news,” Leon said. “We saw lights on there for months but there was speculation as to when the mine would start. Now we know it’s June.
“This is great for the local economy. I know one Chamber member who hired a manager based on this news.”
Colin Vardy, former Wabush mayor and now business operator, knows the struggles it took to get the mine back in operation. He says this puts a very positive spin on the town of Wabush, and he says given the news he just hired another employee.
Tacora Resources is now accepting resumes. Full information on jobs and the process to apply can be found at www.tacoraresources.com.