Graphite Mining in Canada: Everything You Need to Know

Graphite Mining in Canada: Everything You Need to Know

Graphite Mining in Canada Facts

Did you know that Canada is a global leader in graphite production?! Graphite is a non-metallic mineral with many applications due to its ability to conduct heat and electricity. It is a critical component of LEDs, lithium-ion batteries, semiconductors, and pencils – the last of which you're probably most familiar with.

With projected growing global demand for the mineral over the next several decades, Canada should be doing everything it can to provide the world with more graphite. According to the World Bank, global graphite demand will increase by up to 500 per cent between 2018 and 2050 as the mineral is a critical component in new technologies such as state-of-the-art batteries.

Canada, the world's tenth-largest producer, has an incredible opportunity to expand its graphite mining capabilities. As of 2020, Canada only had one operational graphite mine: the Lac des Iles mine in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

To paint a clearer picture of graphite mining in Canada, we've gathered several facts exploring its history, applications, and other related information surrounding this increasingly valuable mineral!

10 Canadian Graphite Mining Facts

Canada top producer of graphite in the world

#1 - Canada's graphite industry ranked as the 10th largest global producer with 12,000 tonnes of production in 2020, accounting for 1.2 per cent of production worldwide. In years past, it has ranked consistently in the top five. (NRC)

#2 - Canadian graphite shipments totalled 11,937 tonnes in 2020 (NRC)

#3 - Synthetic graphite can be produced from petroleum coke or coal tar (Aben Resources)

#4 - In 2020, Canada's graphite industry exported $31.6 million worth of product (NRC)

#5 - Natural graphite accounted for 46.7 per cent of the value of Canada's graphite exports, while synthetic graphite accounted for 53.3 per cent (NRC)

#6 - A Quebec-based company is developing a hydrometallurgical process that would successfully recover most raw materials in old batteries, including graphite (NRC)

#7 - The United States was the primary destination for Canadian graphite in 2020. (NRC)

#8 - There are ten graphite mining projects in Canada in the early stages of devolvement. (Osler)

#9 - Canada's first graphite mining operation was the Miller mine, located in Grenville, Quebec. (University of Waterloo)

#10 - Although graphite reserves are generally found in Ontario and Quebec, there is a past-producing graphite quarry in B.C. (Osler)

Where is Graphite Found in Canada?

Graphite rock

Graphite Rock

Graphite mining in Canada is typically seen in Ontario and Quebec, although there is also a producing quarry and plant located in British Columbia, operational since 2001.

Called the Black Crystal Quarry and Plant, this sole western Canadian graphite mining operation is in the Slocan Valley area of British Columbia, about 30 kilometres west of Nelson and 70 kilometres north of the U.S. border.

Today, Quebec is home to ten open pit graphite mines undergoing environmental assessments by Canada's Impact Assessment Agency, or have recently been approved.

Ontario is also a significant site of graphite mining in Canada. The mineral is found primarily among the rocks of the Precambrian Grenville in the eastern part of the province, a formation that formed roughly 1 to 1.5 billion years ago.

What is Graphite Used For?

growing global demand for lithium graphite cobalt nickel

Although graphite is a non-metallic mineral, it has properties comparable to metals with the ability to conduct heat and electricity.

Compared to synthetic graphite, purified natural graphite offers superior electrical and thermal conductivity and is preferred in global markets due to its lower cost.

Graphite has a plethora of uses for both personal and commercial aspects of our day-to-day lives, including:

  • Ceramic manufacturing
  • Batteries
  • Fuel-cells
  • Aerospace manufacturing
  • Baseball Bats
  • Semiconductors
  • Furnace Parts
  • Graphite Electrodes
  • Valves
  • Rotors
  • Lubricants
  • Nuclear reactor components
  • Resistors
  • Steel manufacturing

History of Canadian Graphite Mining

canadian mining sector jobs facts 2019

In 1889, graphite was first discovered on the shore of Whitefish Lake in Renfrew County, Ontario. Later on, this site became the province's most productive graphite mine, also known as the Black Donald Mine, which is now under the waters of Black Donald Lake.

Graphite was also found at the National Graphite Mine in the Monteagle Township near Bancroft, Ontario, operational from 1912 to 1919.

Graphite was also exposed by road construction on Halliburton County road about 3.6 kilometres south of Goderham, Ontario.

Today, graphite mining in Canada is poised to expand as several companies look to develop new operations and help supply global markets with the mineral seen as a critical material.

Canada ranks top five global producers for more than 17 minerals and metals

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As the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Given that Argentina, Finland, Spain, Botswana, and the Phillippines are just a few countries that have adopted Canada's mining standards, we should celebrate our positive impact on communities worldwide.

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