Western Labrador residents say a new iron ore mine is once step closer to becoming reality after the Newfoundland and Labrador government and Alderon Iron Ore Corp. announced a benefits agreement to develop the $12-billion Kami project.

Wabush resident Wilf Atkins, who is retired and looking to sell his home, said this will be a big boost to the area.

"I've been here 15 years. I'd say the mood is still better than I thought it would be. It's still pretty positive. A lot of people grew up here, and they don't want to leave," Atkins said.

The project is expected to net the provincial government $2.6 billion in taxes over the life of the project

Wilf Atkins

Wilf Atkins says area residents are optimistic about the Kami project. (CBC)

Long-time resident Jason Norris would like to see the money reinvested in Labrador West.

"I mean we're just getting our road paved now — and that's been on the go for 25 years. It's just, to me, it wasn't right. But we wait. We're patient," Norris told CBC.

Many area residents expected segments of the project to have already begun. Alderon has put a hold on building temporary housing, opting instead to look at the housing that's become available after the idling of Wabush Mines earlier this year. About 400 workers were affected by the shutdown.

Jason Norris

Longtime Labrador West resident Jason Norris is hoping the provincial government will keep tax money in the area. (CBC)

Tuesday's announcement came as many of those recently laid off from Wabush Mines were collecting their final paycheques. 

According to the agreement, workers from Labrador will be given hiring preference for the project, while residents of the island will be given second preference.

This is also the first time a project in the province has built in targets for hiring apprentices. The project commits to a minimum of 15 per cent of the skilled trades workforce to be apprentices for the construction phase, and 25 per cent during the operational phase.

Alderon said construction was expected to begin this summer, based on securing full funding.