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Buchans is a Canadianmarker town located in the central part of the island of Newfoundlandmarker in the province of Newfoundland and Labradormarker. It is situated on the northwest shore of Red Indian Lakemarker on the Buchans River.

The town is located within the statistical unit of Census Division No. 6, approximately 72 kilometres southwest of the Trans-Canada Highway at the terminus of Route 370. According to Statistics Canada, it had a population of 877 in 2001, with 443 private dwellings.

Its current mayor is Derm Corbett.

Mining history

In 1905 the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company (AND) was granted mineral rights to of central Newfoundland for 99 years; any commercial mining would result in payment of a 5% royalty to the Dominion of Newfoundland. Prospecting later that year discovered ore along the Buchans River that was shown to contain commercially-extractable levels of zinc, lead, copper, gold and silver and a small mine was opened in 1906.

AND purchased the Millertown Railway in 1910, which had been constructed from the Newfoundland Railwaymarker at Millertown Junction to Millertownmarker several years earlier. Ore was hauled by boat on Red Indian Lake from Buchans to the rail head in Millertown in 1910, however these shipments were soon halted as separation of the ores proved problematic.

In 1915 AND and the American Smelting And Refining Company (ASARCO) began a decade of attempts to solve this ore separation problem. Success in 1926 saw both companies enter into a formal partnership to develop a mine in the Red Indian Lake area. The Buchans Mining Company was formed in 1927 and an underground mine and ore processing mill was developed with over 400 workers, along with a school, church, hospital and a dam and hydro-electric power plant.

The narrow gauge Millertown Railway was extended to Buchans in 1927 to service the mine. Processed ore was hauled by train from Buchans on the Millertown Railway to Millertown Junction, then on the Newfoundland Railway from Millertown Junction to Grand Fallsmarker where it was then hauled on AND's Botwood Railway to the port of Botwoodmarker.

By 1930, the population of Buchans was just under 1000 residents and in 1934 the mine's workforce was unionized. As a mining company town, workers at the Buchans mine and ore processing mill had to purchase items from the company store for which there was no local competition. In 1941 the miners went on strike to protest wages and working conditions only to be quashed by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary for violating wartime essential supply contracts.

By 1945, the population was just under 2000 residents and the following year the company store closed. In 1955 the miners went on strike again, the same year which saw the first road connection built to Buchans (to Badgermarker).

In 1957 the mining operations downsized and in 1960 the Buchans Mining Company was dissolved with the remaining operations consolidated as the ASARCO Buchans Unit. In 1962 a new mine opened however in 1969 another mine closed. The population of the community reached 2300 in 1971, the same year that another strike crippled mining operations; an additional strike occurred in 1973.

In 1976 AND relinquished its mineral claim in the area to the original owner, Price Brothers & Company Limited, a subsidiary of Abitibi Paper Company Limited. ASARCO Buchans Unit shipped the last ore by train in 1977, resulting in the abandonment of the Millertown Railway and the Grand Falls Central Railway (successor to the Botwood Railway) with transportation of Buchans ore converting to trucks.

In 1977 ASARCO began to divest itself of company owned houses and community infrastructure and in 1979 the Town of Buchans was incorporated, taking over the former company community. ASARCO shut all mining operations at its Buchans Unit in 1982 with only 12 workers remaining on the property, down from 550 in 1978. 17.5 million tons were mined and processed over the 55 year history of mining at Buchans. ASARCO closed its remaining barite operation in 1984.

In 2009, the town received renewed press attention when the provincial health ministry confirmed the presence of lead contamination in the Buchans area from the abandoned mines. The government recommended that residents of the town should seek blood testing for the possibility of lead poisoning.

See also



References

  1. "Blood testing for lead recommended for kids in Newfoundland town". Canwest News Service, October 6, 2009.


External links




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