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The Story of Voisey’s Bay: The Discovery (1 of 3)

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Part 1: The DiscoveryPart 2: The AuctionPart 3: Voisey's Today

The Story of Voisey's Bay: The Discovery (Part 1 of 3)
Part 1: The DiscoveryPart 2: The AuctionPart 3: Voisey's Today

The Story of Voisey’s Bay: The Discovery (Part 1 of 3)

Presented by: Equitas Resources, “Nickel exploration in Labrador”

Preface

The legendary story of one of Canada’s most significant base metal discoveries happened just before the dawn of the internet era. While some investors recall the sequence of events and the value that was created by Diamond Fields, there are many investors today, both new and old, who are not familiar with the story of Voisey’s Bay.

For this infographic, we have turned to Jacquie McNish’s fabulous book The Big Score, which documents the history of the discovery, biographical elements of Robert Friedland’s life, and the ensuing bidding war between Inco and Falconbridge that led to one of the most spectacular takeovers in mining history. If you like these infographics, then look into buying Jacquie’s book. It was gripping and full of information.

The Origins

By its very definition, a discovery is the breakthrough action of finding something of value that no one knew existed. Discoveries come in all shapes and sizes – but it turns out many of the very best discoveries happen in the most unsuspecting of conditions.

Labrador is located on the Northeast tip of Quebec in Canada, and it’s in this remote area that the Voisey’s Bay discovery takes place. Labrador is bigger than Great Britain and has over 8,000km of coastline, yet only a population of just 26,700. For context, caribou outnumber people in Labrador by a ratio of 13:1.

In 1985, geologists of the Newfoundland Department of Mines and Energy conducted a survey of one of the most remote parts of Labrador. Voisey’s Bay is 35km from Nain, a small town of 1,000 people.

The team, in a helicopter-supported survey, tested samples in the area, but were not encouraged by the low metal content of the weathered rocks exposed at surface. They left and didn’t look back.

In early 1993, Michael McMurrough of a fledgling company called Diamond Fields Resources was looking for untapped diamond properties to add to the company’s property portfolio. He had heard that a place called “Labrador” had ancient Archean rock formations – one of the earth’s oldest rock groups – where diamonds can form in kimberlite pipes. While Labrador’s wealth in iron ore is well-documented, no diamonds have ever been discovered in the region.

Diamond Fields’ geologist, Rod Baker, was sent to Newfoundland in April 1993 but found that the best diamond prospects had just been staked by two Newfoundlanders. Al Chislett and Chris Verbiski, and their prospecting outfit named Archean Resources, eventually convinced Diamond Fields to pay $372,000 in annual instalments over four years to acquire their claims. Diamond Fields also agreed to pay $500,000 to start an exploration program.

The two prospectors sampled throughout the summer of 1993 without much luck, but they did chip some samples of chalcopyrite, a copper-bearing mineral, from an outcrop. The samples came back with 2% copper, and they pushed for Diamond Fields to put more money into the exploration program.

Diamond Fields

At this time, Diamond Fields was a fledgling company. Running under Robert Friedland’s umbrella of Ivanhoe Capital, the company had its share of issues. Legal problems were mounting, and the company had finally just raised cash in a desperation move: the company impressed investors with its idea of “vacuuming” diamonds off the seafloor near Namibia.

It was company geologist Richard Garnett that convinced the board of Diamond Fields to pursue the Labrador findings, which he had been tracking. The company eventually was able to allocate $220,000 to Labrador – or 40% of what Chislett and Verbiski recommended for follow-up spending.

The Discovery

In August 1994, the prospectors received more detailed assays from the samples they collected – assays that confirmed a multi-element deposit with cobaltite, copper, magnetite, and exceptionally high amounts of nickel. In fall, the team tried to beat winter by executing the next phase of exploration.

On drill hole number two: they hit. The drill core was yellow – not from gold, but from high-grade massive sulphides. The hole was 33 metres long, and signified that Diamond Fields was finally onto something.

At this point, Robert Friedland reigned in control of the company with one mission: to auction off the discovery for the highest price.

View Part 2: The Auction

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Mining

The Biggest Salt Producing Countries in 2023

In this graphic, we break down global salt production in 2023. China is currently the top producer, accounting for almost 20% of output.

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Voronoi graphic breaking down global salt production in 2023.

The Biggest Salt Producing Countries in 2023

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Humanity has utilized salt for thousands of years, dating back to ancient civilizations. The U.S. alone consumes more than 48 million tonnes of salt per year.

In this graphic, we break down global salt production in 2023, measured in tonnes. These estimates come from the U.S. Geological Survey’s latest commodity report on salt.

Ample Supply

Salt is essential for human life, serving various purposes including food preservation, flavor enhancement, industrial processes, and health maintenance. The good news is that the world’s continental resources of salt are vast, and the salt content in the oceans is nearly unlimited.

China is currently the top producer of salt, with almost 20% of the output, followed by the U.S. (15%) and India (11%).

CountryProduction (tonnes)
🇨🇳 China53,000,000
🇺🇸 United States42,000,000
🇮🇳 India30,000,000
🇩🇪 Germany15,000,000
🇦🇺 Australia14,000,000
🇨🇦 Canada12,000,000
🇨🇱 Chile9,200,000
🇲🇽 Mexico9,000,000
🇹🇷 Turkey9,000,000
🇷🇺 Russia7,000,000
🇧🇷 Brazil6,600,000
Rest of world67,000,000
Global total273,800,000

The global salt market was valued at $32.6 billion in 2022.

It’s projected to grow from $34.1 billion in 2023 to $48.6 billion by 2030, with a CAGR of 5.2% during the forecast period. This suggests a surprising amount of growth for what is one of the world’s oldest and most common commodities.

Facts About the U.S. Salt Industry

In the U.S., salt is produced by 25 companies, which operate 63 plants across 16 states.

The states that produce the most salt are Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Utah. Altogether, these states account for 95% of domestic production.

The primary uses of salt in the U.S. are highway de-icing (41%), chemical production (38%), and food processing (10%).

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