Inco Comes to Labrador


366 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography
ISBN 1-894463-75-7
DDC 338.7'6223485'097182





Christopher English is a professor of history at Memorial University of
Newfoundland. He is the author of A Cautious Beginning: The Emergence of
Newfoundland’s Supreme Court of Judicature in 1791–92.


At 360 pages of text (15 of endnotes, but no index), offering an endless
progression of memoranda and emails, this is a long and exhausting
profile of the factors—economic, commercial, political, and
personal—which have contributed to Inco’s corporate success story at
Voisey’s Bay, Labrador, since 1994.

Nickel is being mined, but where, for the long run, is it to be
refined? And for how long? Subsidiary but potentially deal-breaking
issues are unresolved: Aboriginal concerns, the political and economic
priorities and promises of the provincial government, the vagaries of
international markets, and rival corporate ambitions are reflected in
the fact that the corporate crocodile that was Inco is about itself to
be swallowed by larger, wealthier prey. Goldie offers a primer on two
fronts: an interim report on the discovery and exploitation of the raw
materials of Voisey’s Bay; and the arcane world of international
commodity markets—a mixture of economic models drawn from past mining
successes, political calculation, guesstimates, instinct, and
entrepreneurial risk.

Goldie is employed on Bay Street to chart and quantify these factors
and warns that it is an inexact science that may come off the rails at
any moment. He offers an informed, cheerful, occasionally humorous, and
self-deprecating account. He has seen plenty of large mining projects
around the world and explains that there is much more to them than
financing, production, processing, sale, and, at the end of the day,
profit. Profit, of course, there usually is, else developers will cut
and run, and shareholders may take a bath. His job is an attempt to
calculate the incalculable—a lesson for our time for those who might
be seduced by the vision and hope of huge industrial projects and the
“benefits” that may flow from them.


Goldie, Raymond., “Inco Comes to Labrador,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 12, 2024,