During an expedition in 1900 along the east arm of Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories, James McIntosh Bell and Charles Camsell, both of the Geological Survey of Canada, noted the presence of iron, copper, uranium, and cobalt in the vicinity of Echo Bay. Bell made these findings public in 1901 in the Survey’s annual report.
Thirty years later, prospector Gilbert LaBine used this information to discover the high-grade uranium and silver deposits at what would become the Eldorado Mine, Canada’s first uranium mine. The mine began production as a radium mine in 1932, extracting radium from the uranium ores. Radium was highly valued at the time, with an average price of (US)$60,000 per gram.
In 1942, the company secured a contract with the United States military to supply uranium for the Manhattan Project, which produced the first atomic bomb. The Canadian Government expropriated Eldorado Mine in 1944 and renamed it Eldorado Mining and Refining Limited. This crown corporation became heavily involved in creating uranium exploration and mining advancements, in addition to medical, military, and energy applications of radioactive materials.