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St. Lawrence Miner’s Museum

The Black Duck Vein was a fluorspar vein that was mined before 1825; it would eventually become the first fluorspar mine in Newfoundland. Between 1925 to 1935, various successful mining operations began at Black Duck, Iron Springs, Blue Beach, and Tarefare.

Walter Seibert, an American entrepreneur, came St. Lawrence in 1931 to inspect the fluorspar deposits he purchased from a St. John’s businessman in 1929. Fluorspar deposits had been noted as early as 1843, but it was not until 1933 that mining began; the Black Duck Mine opened in 1933, and local residents began extracting and shipping the ore for Seibert.

In the beginning, the mines were just large trenches.  Miners toiled endlessly, with no protection from the elements.  In the late 1930s, most of the work moved underground as shafts were created.

The possibility for employment drew many people to St. Lawrence; in just ten years, the community grew, prospered, and more mines were created. 

​Then people began to notice that a high number of the miners were developing health issues.  By 1948, many of the miners were experiencing severe headaches, shortness of breath, and vomiting.  Initially they were treated for tuberculosis; they were admitted to the sanitarium in St. John,s, but were released only to die days later.  Over time, it was discovered that the mine contained radon gas, causing lung cancer and other respiratory ailments. 

Some of the mines shut down in the 1950s, but others were modified to include improved ventilation; by the 1970s, mining operations took a downturn and by 1978, operations were completely shut down.  Now, with new technology and new approaches to mining, the fluorspar mine is operational and once more the residents of St. Lawrence are making a livelihood through the mining industry.