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HISTORY

Fluorspar (calcium fluoride) is the industrial term for the mineral Fluorite, ranging in colors from clear to yellow, blue, purple, green and black. Fluorspar has many uses which includes manufacturing items such as plastics, enamels, ceramics and etchings. The refining industry uses Fluorspar to make steel, glass, cement, copper, lead and aluminum. It can also be used in insecticides as wood preservatives as a refrigerant as well as a verity of other things.

 

 Fluorite was first formed in the St.Lawrence area over 300 million years ago. Pinch and swell veins formed granite fissures between 1-5 meters in width, 2 kilometers in length and up to 350 meters deep. Fluorine rich mineral solutions filled the voids, depositing fluorspar along the granite walls. Further cooling caused repeated opening and filling of the fissures resulting in Fluorspar with a banded structure throughout the veins. 

Sometime before 1825 a shaft was sunk for lead within a fluorspar vein later known as the Black Duck Vein, the first fluorspar mine in Newfoundland. From 1925 to 1935, many claims were staked which later became successful mining operations at Black Duck, Iron Springs, Blue Beach and Tarefare.

Fluorspar deposits had been noted at early as 1843 but it was not until 1933 that mining began.

In 1931, an American entrepreneur by the name of Walter Seibert came to the town of St.Lawrence to inspect the fluorspar deposits he purchased from a St.John's businessman in 1929. 

The Black Duck Mine opened in 1933 and the men of the area eager for steady work and pay began shipping and extracting the ore for Seibert's company. The first mines were little more than large trenches, and the workers were constantly exposed to the harsh weather. There was little or no powered equipment and no facilities for the workers. By the late 1930's, shafts had been sunk and most of the work moved underground. This was the beginning of the smoke and dust problems.

The years 1933 to 1978 were prosperous and the population of the town increased dramatically as many came to seek work in the mines. Over a period of little more than a decade, the community and the immediate area had been drastically changed by this new industry.

Around 1948 it was noticed an abnormally high amount of the workers were having health issues. Vomiting, severe headaches and shortness of breath were some of the symptoms they had.

Some men were treated for what they thought was tuberculosis  at the Sanatorium in St.John's, they got sent home apparently cured only to die shortly afterwards. Others were diagnosed with lung cancer and silicosis which began the discovery that the mine contained radon gas which is what was causing lung problems.  

 

Iron Springs shut down operations permanently in 1957 but other mines in the area received improved ventilation. By the 70's there was much competition from other sources and mining operations took a downturn. In 1978 shafts were sealed, buildings leveled and operations were completely shut down.

St.Lawrence Miner's song

 

A is for axes that cut up the props

B is for the buckets, which hoist up the muck

C is for captain the best man of all, and 

D is for danger, be careful don't fall

 

Chorus:

oh, so merry, so merry, so merry are we

We go down at seven and come up at three.

Hi derry, hi derry hi derry, ding-dong.

give the miner's good pay and there's 

nothing goes wrong

E is for explosives we use in the mine.

F is for fuses we light on good time.

G is for granite that breaks up our bits, and 

H is for the hoist man who hauls up the skip 

 

Chorus:

oh, so merry, so merry, so merry are we

We go down at seven and come up at three.

Hi derry, hi derry hi derry, ding-dong.

give the miner's good pay and there's 

nothing goes wrong

I is for the iron track we lay underground.

J is for jackhammer we use benching down

K is for killed, byes so mind what you're at, and 

L is for the lights that we wear on our hats,

 

Chorus:

oh, so merry, so merry, so merry are we

We go down at seven and come up at three.

Hi derry, hi derry hi derry, dins-dong.

give the miner's good pay and there's 

nothing goes wrong

M is for mucking, the first job you take

N is for night shift that keeps us awake 

O is for orders we have to go by, and 

P is for power that keeps the mine dry

 

Chorus:

oh, so merry, so merry, so merry are we

We go down at seven and come up at three.

Hi derry, hi derry hi derry, dins-dong.

give the miner's good pay and there's 

nothing goes wrong

 

Q is for the queer things you'll hear the boy's say

R is for the raises we climb twice a day 

S is for stopping, the best job of all, and 

T is for the timber that won't let you fall

 

Chorus:

oh, so merry, so merry, so merry are we

We go down at seven and come up at three.

Hi derry, hi derry hi derry, dins-dong.

give the miner's good pay and there's 

nothing goes wrong

U is for union, all miners belong

V is for the verses that make up this song.

W is for we four that make this song up.

And the other three letters got lost in the muck.

composed by: Gregory Edwards, Hugh Clarke,

and two others, c.1940