Eldorado Mining and Refining

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The Eldorado Mining and Refining Limited company was originally organized in 1927 as Eldorado Gold Mines Limited to develop a gold mine in Manitoba. Its president Gilbert LaBine later found radioactive deposits at Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories in 1930, which led to the development of the Eldorado Mine at Port Radium. They built a state-of-the-art refinery in Port Hope, Ontario in 1933. Radium production took place between 1933 and 1940 when World War II closed European markets for radium material. The other byproduct of the company was silver, copper, and uranium salts. Uranium was useless until scientists realized the enormous energy potential of the uranium atom. The company reopened the mine at Port Radium in 1942 to supply the United States military with uranium products. The Canadian Government took over the company by purchasing share control in 1943, and in early 1944 the name was changed to Eldorado Mining and Refining Limited.

In mid-1943 the District Engineer of the Manhattan Engineer District, Lt-Col Kenneth Nichols had several queries from Canada relating to contracts Canadian firms Eldorado Gold Mines and Consolidated Mining and Smelting (CMS) had for the secret atomic bomb project; CMS or Cominco was building a heavy water plant at Trail, British Columbia and Eldorado was mining and processing uranium ore. He phoned C. D. Howe in Ottawa and arranged to travel on the overnight train to Ottawa and see Howe the next day (June 14). On arriving at the address given Nichols was surprised to find that Howe was the minister of munitions and supply, and found him most friendly. Howe was told about the Manhattan Project, and Nichols was told that Eldorado was now a Crown company. [1]

The crown corporation held a monopoly on uranium prospecting and development in Canada until 1948.[2] Together with a discovery of the Port Radium deposits, the Eldorado company opened the Beaverlodge Mine at Uranium City, Saskatchewan. It entered production in 1953. In the 1960s the nature of sales changed when the United States military ceased purchasing of Canadian uranium ores for the purpose of atomic weapons, and from then on uranium was produced for power plants. During this period the name of the company was changed to Eldorado Nuclear Limited, with Eldorado Aviation Limited operating flights to Port Radium. The crown corporation was dismantled in 1988 and merged with assets of the Saskatchewan Mining Development Corporation (SMDC) to become Cameco Corporation. The old records of the company are housed in the National Archives of Canada.

Port Hope, Ontario[edit]

Port Hope has the largest volume of historic low-level radioactive wastes in Canada, created by Eldorado Mining and Refining Limited and its private sector predecessors.[3] By 2010 when it was projected that it would cost well over a billion dollars for the soil remediation project of the brownfield, it was the largest such cleanup in Canadian history. The effort is projected to be complete in 2022.[4]According to their 2014 report, the Canadian Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) noted that the liability for the Port Hope, Ontario contaminated site was $1 billion, whereas the Big Five other polluters had a combined liability of $1.8 billion.[5]

Former mine sites (partial list)[edit]


  1. ^ Nichols, Kenneth (1987). The Road to Trinity. New York: William Morrow. ISBN 068806910X. pp97-98
  2. ^ McBain, Lesley (2006). "Uranium City". Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
  3. ^ "Port Hope Area Initiative". Archived from the original on August 20, 2009. Retrieved January 13, 2009.
  4. ^ Carola Vyhnak (November 9, 2010). "Port Hope properties tested for radiation". Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  5. ^ Rod Story, Tolga Yalkin (10 April 2014). "Federal Contaminated Sites Cost" (PDF). Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO). Ottawa, Ontario. p. 41. Retrieved 5 September 2015.