Nfld. & Labrador

Wabush 3 expansion expected to put some spark back into Labrador West

A $79-million project, which wavered between proposal and reality for months, will be going ahead — to the delight of the province's politicians.

Multi-million dollar project finally gets go-ahead

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)

The sanctioning of the long-awaited Wabush 3 open pit mine will add a bit of spunk back into a sputtering Labrador West region, according to a pair of local politicians.

A $79-million project, which wavered between proposal and reality for months, will be going ahead — to the delight of the province's politicians.

The Iron Ore Company of Canada said production will begin in 2018, and the life of its Labrador City operation should stretch another dozen years because of the new pit.

Humphries says workers and contractors have been waiting for a decision on Wabush 3 for quite a long time. (labradorwest.com)

Labrador West MHA Graham Letto and Labrador City Deputy Mayor Junior Humphries say the announcement is great news for the region, and should bring some confidence back to residents.

"It means that we finally got a happy story," said Humphries.

He said the announcement was a nice change for a region that's been hearing a lot about layoffs and shutdowns.

"You'll see a big confidence boost in the residents, in the businesses and, hopefully, it will revive the region again," added Letto. 

Waiting and waiting

Humphries says workers and contractors have been waiting for a decision on Wabush 3 for quite a long time.

"When people are out of work and they're waiting for something to happen, a day seems like a month," he said.  "It was a worry on everybody's mind, no doubt about that."

This is a 3D image of the proposed Wabush 3 extension mine project in western Labrador. (IOC)

The extension was put on hold last May, after a former IOC president called the project a crucial piece of the company's future. 

Humphries says now that it has been announced, along with 70 temporary construction jobs, everything might start to look up.

"One leads to another, and when things become positive, there seems to be a few positive things down the line," he said.

Labrador West MHA Graham Letto says the region needs to prepare for another economic boom. (CBC)

There's something else Humphries and Letto agree on: Now that good times are on the horizon, the region has to plan to make sure an economic boom doesn't push the cost of living too high.

"We've learned a lot about the boom and the busts, I don't think we'll go that far again," Humphries said. "We are more prepared."

"What we have to do, what we need to keep doing, is be prepared when that market does go down," Letto said. "Not to be euphoric about the boom."

With files from Peter Cowan and Bailey White

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