Project Scope

Bell Island Mine is an abandoned iron ore mine located in Conception Bay South,Newfoundland, Canada.

The mine was worked until the middle of the last century and now most of its several thousand metres of passages are flooded. These passages extend to depths beyond the operational limits of both open circuit scuba (OCS) and closed circuit rebreathers (CCR). They also spread out several kilometers from the main entry point, putting the maximum potential penetration beyond the endurance of divers using any conventional equipment. In other words, the possibilities for exploration are limitless.

In 2007, a team of cave divers visited Bell Island to explore the submerged mines located there. Over 16 square kilometers with 100 of kms of mine tunnels plunge beneath Bell Island and under the sea floor of Conception Bay where the WWII wrecks reside. Abandoned decades ago, these mine passages are now flooded. Exploration of these passages revealed a trove of artifacts and the cultural history of mining. The tunnels contain mining relics, pipes, heavy equipment and remarkable graffiti that tells the story of miners who died during their work on Bell Island.

In February 2016, a comprehensive expedition has been organized with cooperation from the Bell Island Historical Society. When the mine was flooded in 1966, there was no record of what remained in the mine. The Minequest project is planning exploration, survey and cartography, inventory and documentation of artifacts, human physiology testing for decompression stress, and studies to DNA type biology living within this environment. The goal of the team is to turn over visual assets to the Bell Island Historical Society and assist them in developing educational materials for the Museum at Mine #2. There are no plans to remove any artifacts for conservation at this time. Additionally, the team is developing an infrastructure and safe diving protocols that can be used by future visiting cave divers on Bell Island.