Gold in Canada: Everything You Need to Know

Gold in Canada - Facts, Statistics, History and More COVER
Home to the world’s seventh-largest reserves, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Canada is a major gold producer and exporter. The dense metal is mined in 10 provinces and territories across Canada, including out west in British Columbia, to the north in Nunavut, and the east on the island of Newfoundland. However, a majority (>72%) is currently produced in Ontario and Quebec [1].

Gold was first discovered in Canada in the 1820s along the shores of the Rivière Chaudière in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. In 1858, gold discoveries in the sands of B.C.’s Fraser River started what was known as the Cariboo Gold Rush, similar to the famous rushes in Australia and California during the same decade [2]. Another 40 years later, the discovery of gold in the Yukon caused the legendary Klondike Gold Rush, which ushered in one of the most productive periods of gold mining in the history of Canada [3].

Today, Canada stands as the fourth-largest gold producer in the world, with new mines and exploration continuing in provinces and territories across the country. To paint a clear picture of gold mining in Canada in the past, present and future, we’ve compiled several facts for you below.

12 Canadian Gold Mining Facts

Canada is the fourth-largest gold producer in the world

#1 - Gold is among Canada's most valuable mined commodities, with a production value of $13.2 billion in 2022 [1]

#2 – Gold is mined in 10 Canadian provinces and territories across Canada, with production shares as follows:

• 46% - Ontario

• 26% - Quebec

• 10% - British Columbia

• 2% - Yukon

• 2% - Manitoba

• 14% - Other provinces and territories

#3 - Ontario and Quebec together accounted for more than 72% of Canadian gold production in 2022 [1]

#4 – The top five gold-producing nations accounted for 43% of global output in 2022. Canada ranked fourth, with 6.6% of global mined production, behind China (10.6%), Australia (10.3%) and Russia (10.3%), but ahead of the United States (5.5%) and Ghana (4.2%) [1].

#5 – Canada was home to the world’s seventh-largest reserves in 2022, with 2,300 tonnes [1]

#6 – Canada’s gold exports were valued at $22.3 billion in 2022, a 4% increase from the previous year [1]

#7 – The United Kingdom accounted for 53% of Canada’s gold exports in 2022. The UK is a major importer due to its role as a global financial hub for gold trade, where investors purchase and sell gold on the London Bullion Market Association [1].

#8 - A majority of Canada’s known gold reserves are found in the Canadian Shield [6].

#9 - The Malartic Mine in Quebec is the largest operating gold mine in Canada, producing an estimated 647.89 thousand ounces of gold in 2022 [4]. Canada’s top five gold mines as of 2022, along with their production for the year:

(1) - Malartic Mine, Quebec – 647.89 thousand ounces

(2) - Detour Lake, Ontario – 628.59 thousand ounces

(3) - Meadowbank Complex – 372.61 thousand ounces

(4) - Meliadine Project, Nunavut – 359.3 thousand ounces

(5) - Brucejack Project, British Columbia – 298.39 thousand ounces

#10 - The U.S. Geological Survey estimated total global gold reserves to be 52,000 tonnes in 2022 [1]

#11 – About 90% of Canadian gold production comes from hard-rock underground and open-pit mines, the remainder from base-metal mines and placer mining [5].

#12 – Today, approximately 1,200 Indigenous communities are located within 200 kilometres of mineral and metal mining activities in Canada. Many First Nations are employed by gold mining operations as labourers, miners, truck drivers, equipment operators, and maintenance operators [5].

Where is Gold Found in Canada?

the canadian shield gold mines canada

Canadian Shield - Encyclopaedia Britannica

The Canadian Shield is home to most of Canada’s gold reserves. As the oldest and largest geological region in Canada – forming between 570 million to 4 billion years ago and encompassing several million square kilometres of land – it is where you’ll find several operating gold mines, including [6]:

  • Eskay Creek Mine and Myra Falls in B.C.
  • Thompson Mill and Rice Lake Gold in Manitoba
  • Garson Mine and Stobie Mine in Ontario
  • Mouska Mine and Sleeping Giant in Quebec

Most Canadian gold reserves are in the eastern provinces of Ontario and Quebec, accounting for more than 72% of the country’s total gold production in 2022.

Uses of Gold

what are the uses of gold?

Gold Contact Pins on a CPU Processor

For thousands of years, gold has been used as currency, to make jewellery, and in countless other applications. Today, it is used almost entirely for jewellery, technology, and banking purposes.

In 2022, roughly 47% of global gold demand was accounted for by jewellery, while another 7% was used in technological applications such as micro-circuitry. Central banks accounted for 23% of global gold demand in 2022, while investment accounted for 24% that same year [1].

Gold also has many medical applications, such as treating rheumatoid arthritis. Meanwhile, ongoing research is looking into the role that gold nanoparticle technology can play in cancer treatment.

Other uses of gold include:

  • To improve the efficiency of solar panels
  • As an effective fuel cell catalyst
  • To breakdown contaminants in groundwater
  • In satellites and other aerospace technology to reflect heat radiation
  • In certain building construction as an effective insulator
  • In alloys for dental applications

History of Gold in Canada

fraser river fraser valley BC

Fraser River, Fraser Valley, BC

The first individuals to prospect and mine in Canada were Indigenous peoples who used minerals – including gold – for use in tools, weapons, art and other objects. Apart from use by Indigenous Peoples hundreds, if not thousands of years ago, here is a brief timeline of the history of gold in Canada [5]:

1823  Gold was first documented as being discovered in Canada along the shores of the Rivière Chaudière in the Eastern Townships of Québec.

1858  Gold was discovered in the sands of the Fraser River in the interior of BC, starting the Cariboo Gold Rush from 1861–1867.

1897 – 1899  The Klondike Gold Rush in the Yukon brought one of the most productive periods in Canadian gold mining history.

Early 1900s – Numerous major gold-mining camps in northern Ontario, including Porcupine, Timmins, Larder Lake, Kirkland Lake and Red Lake.

Early 1900s - The gold rush of Ontario moved across the provincial border into northern Québec as gold was discovered at Bourlamaque, Val d'Or, Chibougamau and Malartic.

1929 – 1941: At the beginning of WWII, Canadian gold mining capacity was expanded to help pay for wartime expenses.

1981 – The discovery and development of the large Hemlo gold deposit in northern Ontario, followed by other discoveries and developments across Canada, increased gold production and its importance to the Canadian economy.

Today, Canada ranks as the fourth-largest producer of gold in the world with over 6% of global production in 2022 with a world-class record on sustainable mining initiatives.

Sustainable Gold Mining in Canada

Canadian minerals production by value in 2021

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) continually works to improve extraction and production methods to decrease the industry's environmental footprint. MAC’s Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) standard—introduced in 2004—is a great example of the sector’s social and environmental conscience.

TSM is a globally recognized sustainability program that supports not only Canadian mining companies, but also those abroad in managing key social and environmental risks. Today, other nations such as Finland, Spain, Norway, Argentina, Australia, Brazil and the Philippines have all adopted Canada’s TSM program as the standard in pursuit of more sustainable and environmentally conscious mining.

This Made-In-Canada initiative has brought global recognition to our mining industry as one of the most sustainable in the world.

Canadian companies continue to voluntarily apply sustainable mining practices outlined under the TSM in operations around the world – even when they don’t have to – which shows just how world-class our mining sector really is!

Join Us Today!

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Mining in Canada is an integral part of our economy and supports hundreds of thousands of families nationwide. We must continue to take the necessary steps to cement Canada’s status as a global mining leader and to ensure that the industry continues to create prosperity for all Canadians.

We invite you to join us and hundreds of thousands of fellow Canadians on social media to learn more about the positive influence resources have in our lives and how we should be a global supplier of choice for oil, natural gas, minerals, metals, forest products, agricultural products, and everything in between!


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