Mining in Canada
Everything we do is made possible by natural resources. Minerals and metals, for example, make a huge contribution to the lives of everyday Canadians from coast-to-coast - even those who do not work in the industry. How so, you might ask?
We all depend on mining for countless products ranging from the mundane to the complicated. From toothpaste and bicycles to sophisticated electronics like computers and smartphones, minerals and metals are the building blocks of modern society that provide us with the key components for our shelter, vehicles, transportation, medical instruments and even food production.
Let's also not forget that without minerals and metals, clean technologies that are vital to a greener and more sustainable world would be impossible.
Mining is one of Canada’s most important economic sectors and a major job creator. Canada’s rise as one of the wealthiest countries in the world, was thanks in part to major discoveries and development in the mining industry over the decades.
Canada's Mining Industry…
- employs hundreds of thousands of Canadians across our country
- plays an essential role in the transition to a low-carbon future by providing the building blocks of clean and low energy technologies
- undergoes a strict world-class regulatory environment ensuring that public health, public safety and the environment are protected
- is the largest private sector employer of Indigenous Peoples in Canada
- is world-class when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water use intensities
The impact of mining goes beyond mineral extraction and processing. Mining is linked to many other industrial sectors in the economy including transportation, construction, equipment manufacturing, environmental management, geological services, education and research, among others.
The industry also provides a major boost to our financial sector; the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) is the leading global mining exchange, listing more of the world's public mining companies and raising more mining equity capital than any other exchange.
Mining serves as the key to improving socio-economic circumstances and stimulating a diversified local economy that will flourish throughout the life of the mine and well beyond in countless communities across Canada.
In addition to providing jobs and enabling income creation, mining companies invest in infrastructure, education, vocational training, health care, cultural programs and environmental initiatives.
Mining in Canada: Facts
- The mining industry contributes greatly to Canada’s economic strength. The industry directly employs over 426,000 workers across the country in mineral extraction, smelting, fabrication and manufacturing, and indirectly employs an additional 208,000 (NRC)
- In 2018, the direct contribution of Canada's minerals sector to Canada's gross domestic product (GDP) was $72.4 billion, which represented 3.5% of Canada's total GDP. The indirect impacts from the minerals sector added a further $25.4 billion to GDP, for a total impact of $97.7 billion (Mining Canada)
- Canada is a top ten producer of several critical minerals and metals (see graphic above)
- Canada produces 60 minerals and metals that constitute key raw materials for goods that we rely on in our daily lives and for advanced technologies that will help sustain our living standards into the future
Mining in Our Daily Lives: Examples
> The nanotechnology boom has opened up a new frontier of early detection, diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Gold nanoparticle technology is being used to target and deliver antibodies directly into cancerous tumours. They are also being engineered to attach to cancer-related proteins to aid earlier detection
> Mining makes our favourite devices possible. More than 40 mined metals and rare earths are used to produce a single smartphone
> Mining keeps your electronics working. The appliances we use everyday, everything from the refrigerator to the washer and dryer, require metals to function. Copper, as just one example, is used in plumbing, industrial machinery and construction materials
> Made fresh in Canada, agriculture and agri-food contribute over $100 billion annually to Canada’s economy and the industry is responsible for the employment of 2.3 million Canadians. Farm fertilizers are actually a mix of phosphorous, nitrogen, potassium, sulfur and iron – all products of mining
> Mining is responsible for the most coveted hockey trophy in the world. The Stanley Cup was first awarded to the Montreal Hockey Club in 1893. The original Cup was made of silver, while the current Cup is made of a silver and nickel alloy. Hockey skates are also made out of chromium, carbon and iron
> Mining plays an important role in preventing infectious disease. Increasingly, health facilities are using antimicrobial copper to prevent Hospital Acquired Infections. Surgical instruments, hospital beds and monitors also all exist thanks to mining
> Mining makes space exploration and satellite technologies purposed for a range of functions possible
> Mining makes renewable energy generation possible
Mining Sector & Environmental Leadership
> The Canadian mining industry is committed to responsible environmental stewardship and is focused on supporting the transition to a lower carbon future and being a constructive partner in addressing climate change, reducing footprints and enhancing social and environmentally responsible practices by improving energy efficiencies and reducing GHG emission intensities
> Canada is well equipped to respond to the growing demand for commodities required in clean energy technologies as we are a key global producer of copper, nickel, and cobalt, and host to advanced mineral projects for rare earth elements, lithium, and graphite. These commodities are crucial in the production of solar cells, high-density batteries, and wind turbines
> Canada's mining industry produces minerals and metals used to build sustainable technologies. Mining is essential to a low-carbon future with clean energy and “green” products requiring metals and minerals as building blocks. In fact, 14 of the 19 metals and minerals used in solar PV panels come from Canadian mines
> Mining makes wind power generation possible. More than 220 tonnes of coal is required to build a wind turbine. When we explore for minerals and metals we are finding renewable sources of energy too: Way up in northern Quebec, Glencore’s Raglan Mine is replacing diesel fuel with wind power. The wind turbine and energy storage facility – the first in Canada – has helped reduce the mine’s greenhouse gas emissions and has the potential to transform the Arctic’s energy landscape
> Even before a mine opens for production, plans are in place for the future reclamation of the land. Every advanced exploration and mining project includes a closure plan to restore lands to a natural state upon completion of exploration and mining activities. After various stages of production, buildings are razed, trees and natural grasses planted and wildlife habitats restored. This temporary land use is one of mining's unique attributes. Mines are rarely permanent facilities.
> Canada’s mining industry is providing the responsibly-sourced minerals and metals that power the technologies of today and of the future. As environmental standards grow stricter, advances in technology are making it increasingly possible for mining companies to eliminate the negative impacts of their activities.
> Canada is an energy powerhouse. Electricity relies on minerals and metals to be realized. For example, copper is essential in both conducting electricity, and in the makeup of wind turbines which can provide a greener alternative to generate the electricity used by Canadians across the country.
Mining & Indigenous in Canada
Mining has always been a major contributor to our economy, especially in Northern and remote communities where it is the largest private sector employer of Indigenous peoples and a major partner with Indigenous businesses.
This can be partly attributed to the fact that roughly 1,200 Indigenous communities are within close proximity to mining operations. This serves as a foundation for relationship building between industry and Indigenous communities.
- The mining sector employs 16,600 Indigenous workers directly (NRC)
- There have been 455 mining agreements signed between Indigenous communities and governments and mining and exploration companies since 2000 (Mining Association of Canada)
The vast majority of Indigenous business procurement comes from the natural resources sector. For example:
- Cameco, a uranium company with operations in northern Saskatchewan and elsewhere, procured over $3 billion in services from northern and Aboriginal suppliers between 2004-16
- Suncor, an energy company with operations in the Alberta oil sands, procured almost $5 billion in goods and services from Indigenous businesses between 1999-2018.
By comparison, the entire federal government has only spent $3.3 billion on Aboriginal businesses since 1996.
Mining in Canada is an integral part of our economy and supports hundreds of thousands of families across our nation. We must ensure we 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.
Our Canadian companies are world-leaders when it comes to sustainable and environmentally conscious mining practices. We are also world-class when it comes to respecting local workers and building lasting, meaningful relationships with Indigenous communities.
We must continue to support the Canadian mining sector and those who have the means to provide for their families because of employment in this value-adding industry of ours. Let’s be proud of where Canada stands on the global scene and of all the technological advances it puts forward for the benefit of our planet.
We should celebrate our natural resources and our initiatives that help develop the quality of life that we as Canadians are known for. Are you with us?!
Return to Canada Action Home Page
Did you know that Ontario is a hotbed for mining activity in Canada? The industry is active in all parts of the province in a diverse set of communities including Sudbury, Windsor, Midland, Timmins, Perth, Marathon, North Bay and Attawapiskat to name a few. The further north y...
Any Canadian who’s remotely familiar with nuclear technology has probably heard of uranium. A little factoid: it's an essential part of nuclear reactors across the country and around the world, with about 15% of Canada's total production used to support CANDU reactors in Ontar...
So, what does the oil sands in Canada look like? You'd be surprised, especially considering this vast oil reserve is often incorrectly referred to as the "tar sands," and the photos we usually see in media nowadays are those of open mines. But just a small percent of the oil s...