Canadian Mining Assets

Information Bulletin, December 2014

(published in February 2015)

The Global Presence of Canadian Mining Companies

Canadian mining assetsFootnote 1 (CMA) totaled $233.9 billion in 2013, a 5% increase from the revised 2012 value of $222.6 billion. Canadian mining assets abroad (CMAA) totaled $153.2 billion, up from the revised 2012 value of $146.5 billion. CMAA as a percentage of CMA remained stable at 66% for both years.

Two broad factors had notable widespread influence on 2013 CMA values. On one hand, the lower value of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar increased the CMA values of firms that report in that currency. On the other hand, lower gold prices required many Canadian gold producers to record significant asset impairment charges.

The foreign presence of Canadian mining and exploration companies extended to 107 countries in 2013. The majority of CMAA (68%) was in the Western Hemisphere (the Americas). Table 1 displays the amount and percentage of CMAA by region and Figure 3 provides more regional details on a map. Almost every region experienced growth in 2013 with the exception of Oceania. A regional overview, highlighting notable changes and contributing events, is provided below.  

Following a significant reduction in CMAA in 2012, Africa experienced growth in 2013. The most notable changes were located in:

  • Zambia (+$2.0 billion): First Quantum Minerals was developing the Sentinel copper mine and expanding the Kansanshi mine, the largest copper mine in Africa;
  • Mauritania (-$0.7 billion): Kinross Gold recorded an impairment charge at its Tasiast gold mine; and
  • Tanzania (-$0.7 billion): Barrick Gold recorded an impairment charge at its Buzwagi gold mine.

In Latin America, the overall values grew by 3% and accounted for 55% of CMAA. The top three countries (Chile, Mexico, and Argentina) experienced reductions that were offset by gains elsewhere:

  • Panama (+$2.2 billion): First Quantum Minerals acquired Inmet Mining and continued to develop the Cobre Panama copper mine;
  • Brazil (+$1.9 billion): Silver Wheaton, a precious metals streaming company, acquired gold streams from Vale’s Salobo copper-gold mine;
  • Peru (+$1.4 billion): Hudbay was developing the Constancia copper-gold-molybdenum mine;
  • Mexico (-$1.3 billion): Goldcorp recorded an impairment charge at its Peñasquito gold-silver-lead-zinc mine; and
  • Argentina (-$0.9 billion) and Chile (-$0.5 billion): Barrick Gold recorded a significant impairment charge as a result of suspending the Pascua-Lama gold project, which straddles the border between these two countries. The reductions were partly offset by Goldcorp’s development of the Cerro Negro gold project in Argentina and Teck Resources’ investments in Chile.

In Asia, overall CMAA remained steady, although some fluctuations occurred at the country level. In the Philippines (+$0.9 billion), B2Gold acquired CGA Mining Limited of Australia and its Masbate gold mine while Barrick Gold recorded an impairment charge at its Jabal Sayid copper development project in Saudi Arabia (−$0.8 billion).

For the second consecutive year, Europe experienced the greatest CMAA gain in percentage terms. The additions largely reflected the fair value reassessment of operating assets in Finland and Spain by First Quantum following its acquisition of Inmet Mining.

The decline in CMAA value for Oceania was mostly attributable to impairment charges recorded by Barrick Gold at its Porgera Gold mine in Papua New Guinea and at multiple Australian properties.

Junior companiesFootnote 2 accounted for 90% of the total company count and for 9% of the CMA value in 2013. About half of their assets were located in Canada with another 35% located elsewhere in the Americas.  Senior companiesFootnote 2 held a smaller portion of their assets in Canada (33%), but also held a large portion of their assets in the rest of the Americas (45%). Figure 2 displays the geographical distribution of assets by company type.

Annual Variations

In comparing asset totals across years, it is important to understand the causes of variations. Additions mostly arise from mining asset development and construction. Subtractions arise from asset write-offs, impairments, depreciation, sales, and mine closures. The adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), exchange rate movements, mergers and acquisitions, and the relocation of company headquarters also contribute to annual variations.

Use of CMAA Statistics

When the question is asked “What is the value of Canadian mining investment in Country X?,” some care is required in answering. CMAA, as tracked by Natural Resources Canada, differ from Canadian Direct Investment Abroad (CDIA) figures estimated by Statistics Canada. CDIA is based on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as defined internationally, based on national systems of accounts. CMAA are based on financial accounting standards applied by Canadian public companies and auditors. Table 2 outlines the principal differences between these approaches.

For the 2013 reference year, a total of 1,777 companies were researched:

  • 1,621 were identified as having mining assets;
  • 28 (2%) had mining assets with a value in excess of $1 billion;
  • 166 (10%) had operating revenues;
  • 831 (51%) had interests outside of Canada; and
  • 593 (37%) had mining assets in at least two countries.

Figure 1
Percentage of CMAA by Country, 2013
Percentage of CMAA by Country, 2013

Source: Natural Resources Canada.

Text version

Figure 1
Percentage of CMAA by Country, 2013

Figure 1 is a pie chart that shows the leading countries with Canadian mining assets abroad in 2013. More than half of Canada's mining assets abroad are in four countries of the Western Hemisphere: Chile (14%), the United States (13%), Mexico (12%), Brazil (5%), and Argentina (9%). The other leading countries are the Dominican Republic, Peru, Zambia, China, and Madagascar, each with a share ranging from 3% to 4%.

Figure 2
CMA by Region and by Company Type, 2013
Figure 2 CMA by Region and by Company Type, 2013

Source: Natural Resources Canada.

Text version

Figure 2
CMA by Region and by Company Type, 2012

Figure 2 is a column chart that shows the geographic distribution of Canadian mining assets divided by junior and senior companies. Almost half (48%) of the Canadian mining assets of junior companies are located in Canada while 35% are in the rest of the Americas (excluding Canada), 11% are in Africa, 2% are in Oceania, 2% are in Asia, and 2% are in Europe. Canadian mining assets held by senior companies were less concentrated in Canada at 33%, but had a higher concentration in the rest of the Americas (excluding Canada) at 45%; the remainder were divided between Africa (10%), Europe (5%), Asia (4%), and Oceania (2%).

Figure 3
Geographical Distribution of Canadian Mining Assets in 2013
Geographical Distribution of Canadian Mining Assets in 2013
[larger file]

Source: Natural Resources Canada.
M = Million; B = Billion.
Notes: All amounts are in Canadian dollars. Company counts are for the 2013 reference year and do not add to totals since companies can be active in multiple jurisdictions. Figures for 2012 have been revised.

Text version

Figure 3
Geographical Distribution of Canadian Mining Assets in 2012

Figure 3 is a map of the world. The countries are colour coded according to a range of values for Canadian mining assets in each country (for example, countries in light green have Canadian mining assets in the range of $10 million to $100 million). For each continent and for Canada, the United States, and Mexico individually, the 2012 and 2013 asset values are listed along with the number of Canadian-based companies with assets in that region. Refer to Table 1 for the specific values for each region.

Table 1. CMA by Region, 2012 and 2013
Region 2012 (r) 2013 Change 
($ billions) ($ billions)  (%)
Africa 22.4 24.1 7.8
Americas (excluding Canada)  99.8 103.9 4.2
Asia 9.2 9.7 4.7
Europe 9.7 11.2 15.1
Oceania 5.5 4.3 -20.2
Total CMAA 146.5 153.2 4.6
Canada 76.1 80.7 6.0
Total CMA 222.6 233.9 5.1

Source: Natural Resources Canada.
(r) Revised.
Note: Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding.

Table 2. CDIA Compared to CMAA
Financing must come from Canadian sources Source of financing is immaterial
Examines assets and liabilities Considers non-current mining asset values only
Based on first destination (investment destined for Mexico through a U.S. subsidiary is allocated to the United States) Based on final destination (the transaction in the left column would be considered CMAA in Mexico)
Canadian company: minimum 10% control of investee, using Canadian financing Canadian company: headquarters in Canada and not foreign controlled
Country data are not available for mining CMAA can be found by country 

Source: Natural Resources Canada.

Annex 1. Canadian Mining Assets (CMA) by Country and Region, 2012 and 2013

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Natural Resources, 2015