Photostory #4: Three Miles Under Atlantic: Canadian Miners Produce Annual 2.8 Million Tons
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
Sixteen hundred feet beneath the pounding waves of Newfoundland's Conception Bay, three miles out from the shore of tiny Bell Island, lies Canada's biggest and oldest iron ore development. While ocean tides ebb and flow above, miners drill and blast an annual 2.8 million tons of ore from the submarine shafts of the Dominion Wabana Ore mine, bound for the iron-hungry steel furnaces of Canada, Great Britain and Germany. Containing the greatest known reserves of any Canadian mining property -- some three billion tons -- the Bell Island mine faces the brightest operating future of its long history. With new iron-sale agreements with Britain and West Germany, the next five years will see over ten million tons of ore shipped to overseas markets. Coupled with orders for an annual 750,000 tons from its parent mills at Sydney, Nova Scotia, Bell Island's full mine production has been sold out for seven years. Under the impetus of these big domestic and export orders, Wabana is now putting the finishing touches to an eleven million dollar expansion program designed to accelerate production. Among the major modernization steps already completed or in the works: Installation of the world's longest inclined conveyor belt to haul ore to the surface; replacing "pit ponies" of a bygone era; construction of a concentrator to process ore at the mine head and eliminate stockpiling; and installation of a conveyor belt system to carry ore across the island's full width.