Nfld. & Labrador

Labrador's economy must diversify to survive, say opposition parties

Newfoundland and Labrador's opposition parties are weighing in on troubling mining news in western Labrador.
Liberal leader Dwight Ball and NDP MHA Lorraine Michael spoke out on Tuesday regarding the economic woes in Labrador related to the mining industry downturn. (CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador's opposition parties are weighing in on troubling mining news in western Labrador.

This week, some analysts said the Iron Ore Company of Canada mine is in danger of closing down within a year, citing the high cost of producing iron ore there compared to other mines owned by the company.

In addition to the distress with IOC, Alderon Iron Ore Corp announced a round of cost-cutting measures as it struggles to find investors for its much hyped Kami mine.

On Tuesday, Liberal Leader Dwight Ball said the province needs to keep Labrador an attractive place for mining companies to do business.

"We have a skilled experienced workforce," He said. "One that's there looking and ready to go to work."

The main entrance to the Iron Ore Company of Canada mine in Labrador City. IOC is majority owned by Rio Tinto, one of the world's largest mining companies. (John Gaudi/CBC)

Ball said in light of the downturn in the mining industry in the region, other growth areas such as hydroelectricity should become the focus.

"We must look at the other advantages that we would have available to us, things like power," he said.

"This government talks a lot about the export of power. I want to talk about using that power as a competitive advantage for us."

NDP touts need for diversification, more government involvement

New Democrat MHA Lorraine Michael told CBC News the uncertainty in western Labrador points to the dangers of relying on a handful of private companies for the economic viability of Labrador.

"We can't put our eggs in the basket of corporate decision making," she said.

"The mainstay of Labrador, apart from the fishery, is the mining and energy — and that's it."

A map showing the proposed Kami mine project in western Labrador. (Alderon)

Michael said the current situation shows the need for more government programs to protect workers and the local economy in Labrador.

"Government has to have long term plans that will deal with helping communities and workers when the issues arise," she said.

"We have had governments, both Liberals and Tories, that throughout the decades do nothing but react to crisis."

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