In 2011, employment in the Canadian mining and mineral processing industry1 recovered to 320 0002 full-time equivalent jobs, an increase of over 12 000 from the previous year. The global economic recession of 2008/09 had curtailed Canadian mineral and processing production, resulting in mine closures and lower employment in 2009 and 2010 (Figure 1).

The mining and mineral processing industries accounted for 40.5% of the 791 000 natural resource (mining, forestry, and energy) workers in 2011.3 Employment in forestry declined for the eleventh consecutive year while employment in the mining and minerals sector grew by 4.1% and in the energy sector by 9.0%.

In the Canadian mining and quarrying industry, 2011 employment totaled almost 57 000 workers, a 7.9 % increase over 2010 (Table 1). Employment is considered a lagging indicator as it tends to respond slowly to economic downturns and recoveries, and changes only after the economy has already begun to establish a particular trend.4 Following smaller increases in 2010, employment picked up substantially in 2011 (especially in mining) as mineral prices continued to rise and mining companies increased production in response to rising demand.

Employment increased strongly in metal mining, increased marginally in nonmetal mining, and declined slightly for coal mining. Given the number of mine openings and re-openings within the metal mining sector in 2010 (Annex 1), a strong uptick in employment was to be expected in 2011. In fact, in 2011, two mines closed and seven suspended operations, while nine mines opened and another five re-opened. All regions of the country benefited from the fourteen openings and re-openings, while nonmetal mines in Nova Scotia accounted for five of the closed and suspended mines (Table 2).

As in previous years, wages and salaries in the mining and quarrying industry exceeded the Canadian industrial average. Average weekly earnings in 2010 reached $1469, the highest level on record and nearly $600 above the national average.5

The primary metal manufacturing industry, comprising establishments primarily engaged in the smelting and refining of ferrous and nonferrous metals, employed almost 62 000 workers in 2011, a 1.2% increase over 2010. Employment increased in 2010 and 2011 despite the closing of smelters in Manitoba (Flin Flon - copper) and Ontario (Kidd Creek - copper and zinc) in 2010. Over the longer term, however, employment has been trending downward and has dropped by more than 40% since 2000. Some of the decline can be accounted for by smelter closures, but much of it can be accounted for by increased labour productivity.6 Average weekly earnings in the industry, adjusted for inflation, were $1201, down slightly from $1249 in 2010.

The nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in the processing of stone, in the combining of nonmetallic minerals with additives, and in the heat-treating of nonmetallic mineral preparations. Employment in this sector declined marginally from 49 700 in 2010 to 49 400 in 2011, while average weekly earnings increased 5.4%.

The fabricated metal product manufacturing industry accounts for nearly half of all mining and mineral processing employment and comprises establishments primarily engaged in forging, stamping, forming, turning, and joining processes to produce ferrous and nonferrous metal products. In 2011, employment jumped 5.5% from the 2010 level and average weekly earnings increased by more than 6%, reflecting the slow growth of North American economies and a continuing recovery in manufacturing activity. Employment gains in this sector accounted for 63% of the increase in employment for the entire mining and mineral processing industry.

Since 2000, employment in Canadian mineral processing operations has declined by 23% (with a 40% drop in primary metal manufacturing). Over the same period, employment in the mining and quarrying sector declined to a low in 2005 before recovering to the levels reached in 2000 (Table 1).

The Mining Industry Human Resources Council7 notes the success of the industry, relative to others, in hiring Aboriginal people. Increased hiring of people from under-represented demographic groups will not be sufficient to compensate for significant labour shortages arising from retirements of an aging work force, even in a contractionary scenario.

If commodity demand and prices remain strong8 and advanced projects enter production, employment in Canada's mining industry should continue to grow. However, worsening labour shortages, and the projected forecasts for a strong Canadian dollar, will continue to be a challenge for Canada's mineral and metal manufacturing industries.


1The mining and mineral processing industries include those covered by NAICS codes 212 - mining and quarrying (excluding oil and gas), 327 - nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing, 331 - primary metal manufacturing, and 332 - fabricated metal product manufacturing.

2It is important to note that a breakdown of employment data in mining-related support activities, such as exploration, contract drilling, and transportation, is not available from Statistics Canada and these activities are therefore not accounted for in the Canadian mining total. However, these activities contribute to the creation of many direct and indirect jobs.

3The data reported for each of the natural resource sectors reflect the value of primary industries and related manufacturing industries. Values for Petroleum Product Wholesalers-Distributors (NAICS 4121), Gasoline Stations (NAICS 447), and Pipeline Transportation (NAICS 486) are not included.

4Ellis, Joseph H. (2005), Ahead of the Curve: A Commonsense Guide to Forecasting Business and Market Cycles, Cambridge: Harvard Business School Press.

5All wage information is extracted from Statistics Canada's Survey of Employment, Payroll and Hours.

6Labour productivity in the primary metals sector increased by 26% between 2000 and 2008 (real value-added per unit of labour; CANSIM Table 383-0022).

7Mining Industry Human Resources Council: Canadian Mining Industry Employment and Hiring Forecasts 2011.

8Strong, that is, in comparison with historical, pre-2005 prices.

Figure 1
Mining and Mineral Processing Employment by Industry, 2001-11

Figure 1: Mining and Mineral Processing Employment by Industry, 2001-11

Source: Statistics Canada, Survey of Employment, Payroll and Hours.
Note: Excludes oil and gas, and services incidental to mining.

[Text Version - Figure 1. Mining and Mineral Processing Employment by Industry, 2001-11]


Year Metal Mining Nonmetal Mining Coal Mining Total
1999 29 555 19 987 7 812 57 354
2000 29 468 20 031 7 199 56 698
2001 25 564 19 524 6 143 51 231
2002 22 585 19 497 5 811 47 893
2003 21 810 20 224 5 357 47 391
2004 21 374 19 907 4 705 45 986
2005 21 196 20 456 5 037 46 689
2006 22 007 21 487 5 336 48 830
2007 23 850 23 183 5 844 52 877
2008 28 074 23 988 6 443 58 505
2009 24 286 21 775 6 369 52 430
2010 23 311 22 051 7 170 52 532
2011 26 917 22 870 6 881 56 668

Source: Statistics Canada.
Note: Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding.


Source: Natural Resources Canada.


Source: Natural Resources Canada.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2012