In the early 1930s a rich deposit of fluorspar, a mineral used in the production of aluminum, steel, non-stick coatings, and fire retardant clothing, was discovered on the southern tip of Newfoundland. Two mines were established and by mid-century were major employers in St Lawrence. In the 1950s physician Cyril Walsh noticed a marked increase in cases of cancer in the miners. By the late 1960s nearly twenty percent of St Lawrence households had lost a family member to lung cancer. John Martin tells the history of Newfoundland's fluorspar mines from their founding to the last shipment of fluorspar in 1990 and declaration of bankruptcy a year later. He focuses on the health hazards experienced by the miners, and how the mining companies, workers, governments, and health services came to terms with the unfolding human tragedy. He also covers such matters as the improvement of methods for dust quantification and radiation surveillance in the mines, battles for compensation, and the influence of the St Lawrence case on the development of labour law in the province. Martin's compelling history takes on new significance as the mines are set to reopen with the support of the provincial government and renewed confidence in the community due to modern ventilation technology and vigilant monitoring.
John R. Martin, a retired physician and professor of medicine at Memorial University, was chief occupational medical officer for the Province of Newfoundland (1984-1992).
Abbreviations xi Acknowledgments xiii Preface xv 1 The St Lawrence Fluorspar Mines: The Early Days3 2 The War Years and the Last Days of Commission of Government 15 3 Newfluor in the 1950s 30 4 Newfluor in the 1960s 42 5 The St Lawrence Corporation: The Twilight Years 54 6 The Royal Commission and the Aftermath 64 7 Newfluor in the 1970s and Closure 85 8 St Lawrence Fluorspar Company Ltd 100 Epilogue 109 Appendices A Fluorspar: Geology, Distribution, and Industrial Uses 115 B St Lawrence Corporation Production Statistics 117 C Newfluor Production Statistics 120 D Fluorspar Mining at St Lawrence (Total Shipments, Employment, and Value of Shipments), 1941-1978, 1987-1990 122 E Processing of Claims by Workmen's Compensation Board (WCB) in 1967 124 F Scale of Compensation at Various Years, Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC), 1951-2005 125 Glossary of Technical Terms 127 Notes 131 Bibliography 161 Index 171