The impact of “boom-bust” industrial cycles and mine closure on mining communities is a subject of long standing in research on extractive industries. Relatively few studies incorporate a historical, longitudinal approach to the economic and demographic changes associated with these cycles at a community and regional scale. This paper revisits a series of classic studies undertaken in the 1980s of industrial cycles in the Québec-Labrador mining region of Canada, and updates them by tracing some of the impacts of the rapid rise and fall of iron prices since the early 2000s. Drawing from field observations, community interactions, and socio-economic data on several regional mining settlements, it considers the social impacts of these increasingly rapid industrial cycles on northern mining communities, as well as Indigenous communities. Using the conceptual lens of staples theory and political economy, the paper explores the influence of past episodes of closure and dislocation on contemporary industrial cycles in the region. It also accounts for the shifting institutional and political contexts affecting recent mining cycles, including the role of the state, environmental issues, and Indigenous rights. The results reveal that continued reliance on mining keeps these remote communities tied to global trends in iron ore and steel production, meaning they will continue to be exposed to the stresses and strains of industrial cycles to come. However, these impacts are experienced differently across the region, based on intraregional differences in local demography, economy, and settlement history.
Rodon, T., Keeling, A., & Boutet, J.-S. (2021). Schefferville revisited: The rise and fall (and rise again) of iron mining in Québec-Labrador. The Extractive Industries and Society, 101008. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exis.2021.101008