Minerals and the economy

Canada is recognized as a leading mining nation. Our minerals sector, which includes exploration, mining and related support activities, primary processing, and downstream product manufacturing is a mainstay of the economy that supports jobs and economic activity in every region.

Find out what Canada is doing to advance the economy through minerals

Mineral production

Canada is the global leader in the production of potash and ranks among the top 5 global producers for cobalt, diamonds, gold, nickel, platinum group metals and uranium.

Canada also accounts for a significant proportion of the global production of primary aluminum, from imported bauxite and alumina.

Key facts

  • Canada produced some 60 minerals and metals at almost 200 active mines and 7,000 sand, gravel and stone quarries.
  • The total value of Canada’s mineral production was $40.8 billion in 2016.
  • Gold was the top-ranked commodity produced in Canada in 2016 by value of production, valued at $8.3 billion.
Canada's mineral production
Text version

This graphic shows the value of Canada’s mineral production: metals, $23 billion; non-metals, $14 billion; coal, $4 billion. It also shows Canada’s global ranking: potash, first; uranium, second; platinum group metals, third.

Mineral production by commodity group

The total value of Canadian mineral production in 2016 was $40.8 billion, 4.7% lower than the 2015 value of $42.8 billion. The value of metals and coal produced during 2016 increased, while the value of nonmetals declined.

Mineral production, by commodity group, 2007–2016 (p)

Text version

This stacked bar chart shows the value of mineral production by commodity group for each year from 2007 to 2016. Refer to the table Mineral production, by commodity group, 2007–2016 (p) for the specific values for each region.

Mineral production, by commodity group, 2007–2016 (p)
($ millions)
Commodity group 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 (p)
Metals 26,247 22,594 15,475 21,379 25,994 23,558 23,497 24,225 23,126 23,232
Nonmetals 11,588 19,376 11,552 14,700 17,840 16,471 15,477 15,779 16,520 13,971
Coal 2,735 4,986 4,406 5,541 7,471 5,881 4,887 3,897 3,126 3,555
Total 40,571 46,956 31,433 41,620 51,305 45,911 43,861 43,900 42,771 40,757

Canada’s top 5 mineral products by value for 2016 were gold, copper, potash, iron ore and coal. Their combined value was $24 billion, accounting for almost 60% of the total value of mineral production.

Leading minerals, by value of production, 2016 (p)

Text version

This bar chart shows the leading minerals by value of production as a percentage of the total, for 2016. The top 3 commodities were gold (20%), copper (11%) and potash (10%).

Canada’s mineral production by province and territory

Minerals are produced in every province and territory. The top 4 provinces, Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, accounted for three-quarters of Canada’s total value of mineral production in 2016. 

Mineral production, by province and territory, 2015 and 2016 (p)

Text version

This map of Canada has superimposed bar charts (2 bars for the years 2015 and 2016) showing the amount of mineral production (in current dollars) for each province and territory. The top jurisdictions by value of mineral production in 2016 were Ontario ($10.6 billion), Quebec ($8.3 billion) and British Columbia ($6.3 billion).

Mineral production, by province and territory, 2007–2016 (p)
($ millions)
Province/Territory 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 (p)
Newfoundland and Labrador 4,949 5,316 2,409 4,583 5,073 4,297 4,079 3,210 2,783 2,723
Prince Edward Island 4 3 4 3 3 4 4 4 5 7
Nova Scotia 328 357 271 241 238 238 221 198 231 230
New Brunswick 1,540 1,537 1,100 1,211 1,335 1,156 598 439 444 283
Quebec 5,540 6,192 5,628 7,140 8,465 8,024 8,062 8,490 7,552 8,295
Ontario 10,856 9,561 6,325 8,128 10,685 9,539 10,205 10,995 10,979 10,580
Manitoba 2,480 1,687 1,341 1,695 1,794 1,492 1,306 1,428 1,348 1,319
Saskatchewan 5,511 8,604 5,059 6,488 9,101 7,790 6,858 6,779 8,072 5,532
Alberta 1,812 3,952 1,926 2,305 2,696 2,720 2,662 2,615 2,465 3,038
British Columbia 5,611 7,403 5,622 7,166 8,982 7,826 7,112 6,815 6,186 6,332
Yukon 74 208 240 299 367 486 467 408 246 409
Northwest Territories 1,831 2,123 1,507 2,045 2,138 1,725 1,659 1,882 1,817 1,276
Nunavut 35 13 317 427 614 629 636 644 733
Total Canada 40,571 46,956 31,433 41,620 51,305 45,911 43,861 43,900 42,771 40,757
Average annual prices of select commodities, 2007–2016
Commodity U.S.
Currency
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Copper ¢/pound 322.8 315.5 233.7 341.8 400.1 360.6 332.3 311.1 249.5 220.6
Nickel $/pound 16.9 9.6 6.7 9.9 10.4 7.9 6.8 7.7 5.4 4.4
Zinc ¢/pound 147.0 85.0 96.3 98.0 99.5 88.3 86.6 98.1 81.5 94.9
Lead ¢/pound 117.0 115.3 78.0 97.4 108.9 93.2 97.2 95.0 81.4 84.8
Molybdenum $/pound 29.9 28.4 10.9 15.6 15.3 12.7 10.3 11.4 6.9 6.5
Gold $/troy ounce 696.7 871.7 973.0 1,224.7 1,568.6 1,668.8 1,411.1 1,266.1 1,160.1 1,248.3
Silver $/troy ounce 13.4 15.0 14.7 20.2 35.6 31.2 23.9 19.1 15.7 17.2
Platinum $/troy ounce 1,304.8 1,576.4 1,204.1 1,610.1 1,720.1 1,551.9 1,486.7 1,384.6 1,053.2 987.0
Palladium $/troy ounce 354.7 352.2 263.6 526.4 733.6 644.3 725.3 802.9 691.8 613.6
Uranium (U3O8) $/pound 99.3 61.7 46.1 46.8 56.4 48.4 38.2 33.2 36.5 25.6
Coal, metallurgical $/tonne f.o.b. 94.3 198.3 177.7 193.0 270.5 193.5 142.3 113.8 91.5 114.9
Coal, thermal $/tonne f.o.b. 52.5 93.8 81.3 90.9 106.5 98.0 93.1 79.0 65.9 60.2
Iron ore $/tonne 36.6 61.6 80.0 146.7 167.8 128.5 135.4 96.8 55.2 57.7
Potash $/tonne f.o.b. 162.2 358.0 470.1 325.6 398.8 431.8 353.6 273.1 299.3 220.8

Service suppliers

Canadian cities provide regional bases for supporting exploration, mining, and allied industries through specialized equipment and service suppliers. Large urban areas such as Toronto and Vancouver are also recognized as global hubs for mining and mineral exploration, financing and legal services.

In 2016, more than 3,000 firms in Canada were available to provide technical, legal, financial, accounting, environmental and other expertise to the mining and exploration industry.

Transportation plays a key enabling role for the minerals sector, not only in delivering mineral products to markets, but also in bringing equipment and supplies to mining operations. The transportation industries benefit from a vibrant mining sector—mostly rail, as mining accounts for over half of Canada’s rail-freight tonnage annually.

Learn more about Canadian mineral production.

Principal mineral areas, producing mines, and oil and gas fields in Canada

The map displays the locations of significant metallic, nonmetallic and industrial mineral mines; oil sands mines; and gas fields across Canada.

Learn more about the available mining and minerals maps.

Mineral exploration

Mineral exploration is the search for materials in the earth’s crust where the concentration and quantity allow them to be extracted and processed at a profit.

Key facts

  • Preliminary figures for 2016 indicate that mining and mineral exploration companies spent $1.6 billion on exploration and deposit appraisal projects in Canada, compared to $1.8 billion in 2015.
  • Spending intentions of $1.8 billion for 2017, if realized, would signal a potential turning point, marking the first increase since 2011.
  • Precious metals, particularly gold, remained the leading target for exploration spending ($0.9 billion), accounting for 60% of total spending in 2016.
  • Canadian-headquartered mining and exploration companies accounted for the largest portion of worldwide nonferrous exploration budgets, reaching 30.6% in 2016.
  • Canada remained the world’s top destination for nonferrous mineral exploration in 2016, attracting 14.1% of global exploration budgets.

Learn more about exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures in Canada:

Exploration and deposit appraisal percentage of expenditures, by mineral commodity group, 2007 and 2016 (p)

Text version

This set of 2 pie charts shows exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures by mineral commodity group for 2007 and 2016. In 2007, precious metals accounted for 36% of the spending, base metals 25% and uranium 15%. In 2016, precious metals accounted for 60% of the spending, base metals 13% and uranium 11%. Refer to the table Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by mineral commodity group, 2007–2017 (si) for specific values by commodity group for individual years.

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by mineral commodity group, 2007–2017 (si)
($ millions)
Commodity Group 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 (p) 2017 (si)
Precious metals 1,025.2 1,161.4 989.3 1,443.9 2,277.3 1,842.7 1,103.6 849.4 857.5 928.4 1,109.4
Base metals 711.5 842.1 296.6 551.9 734.1 633.0 419.3 420.0 382.0 209.7 258.7
Iron ore 118.6 224.4 61.4 110.1 307.0 358.6 130.7 69.1 28.1 7.6 25.6
Uranium 413.3 409.0 205.1 190.4 197.6 205.1 167.4 184.4 170.2 173.9 139.3
Diamonds 321.6 221.6 70.0 106.8 91.9 74.6 72.9 109.9 119.3 72.3 51.9
Other metals 175.3 189.6 99.1 141.8 260.8 230.9 191.9 125.3 68.7 45.4 87.2
Nonmetals 31.1 179.4 165.9 168.8 214.2 313.6 116.5 136.0 124.8 75.0 80.8
Coal 34.2 51.9 57.1 58.1 144.5 216.6 149.8 123.4 91.8 46.9 91.6
Total 2,830.8 3,279.5 1,944.4 2,771.9 4,227.4 3,875.1 2,355.2 2,017.4 1,842.4 1,559.0 1,844.1

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by province and territory, 2015–2017 (si)

Canada's mineral production
Text version

This map of Canada has superimposed bar charts (3 bars for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017) showing the amount of exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures for each province and territory. Each bar is subdivided into 2 segments: 1 for exploration and 1 for deposit appraisal. The top spending jurisdictions in 2016 are expected to be Ontario ($371 million), Quebec ($280 million) and Saskatchewan ($232 million).

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures and metals and minerals price index, 1997–2017 (si)

Exploration and deposit appraisal
Text version

This line chart displays exploration and deposit appraisal spending on the left vertical axis and the Bank of Canada’s metals and minerals price index on the right vertical axis from 1997 to 2017. Peak years for both variables were in 2008 and 2011.

Exploration and deposit appraisal share of expenditures, by junior and senior companies, 2007–2017 (si)

Exploration and deposit appraisal
Text version

This bar chart shows the percentage distribution of exploration and deposit appraisal spending between junior and senior companies from 2007 to 2017 (spending intentions). In 2007, junior companies accounted for 67% of the expenditures while in 2016 they accounted for 37%. Refer to the table Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by junior and senior companies, 2007–2017 (si) for specific values by junior and senior companies for individual years.

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by junior and senior companies, 2007–2017 (si)
($ millions)
Company Type 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 (p) 2017 (si)
Senior 926 1,162 834 1,225 2,180 2,028 1,390 1,203 1,265 977 1,058
Junior 1,904 2,118 1,111 1,547 2,048 1,847 965 814 578 583 786
Total 2,831 3,280 1,944 2,772 4,227 3,875 2,355 2,017 1,842 1,559 1,844

There are two types of companies that work in mineral exploration:

  • Senior companies normally derive recurring operating revenues from mining or other business segments (they do not need to be mining companies).
  • Junior companies have no internally generated revenue (i.e., do not have an operating mine) and mostly rely on equity markets to raise the capital necessary to conduct their exploration programs.

Junior mining companies tend to specialize in early-stage exploration activities, while senior companies are more likely to bring the mine into production.

Junior companies play a critical role in the discovery and advancement of mineral projects in Canada, projects that represent the next generation of Canadian mines. In 2016, junior mining companies spent $0.6 billion on exploration and deposit appraisal activities, which is a modest 1% increase from 2015.

Learn more about Canadian mineral exploration.

Canadian mining assets

Canadian mining and exploration companies are active across the globe. The extent of that presence can be determined by examining the value and location of Canadian mining assets.

The total value of Canadian mining assets increased 3.5% in 2015, while the portion located outside of Canada increased by 2.6%.

Key facts

  • Canadian mining assets totalled $259.1 billion in 2015.
  • Canadian mining assets abroad totalled $170.8 billion in 2015.
  • In 2015, assets located abroad accounted for 66% of total assets.

Canada’s presence abroad

In 2015, two-thirds of the value of Canadian mining assets abroad were in the Americas, where values remained consistent with the previous year. Asia and Africa saw a growth in the value of their assets, while values in Oceania and Europe declined.

In total, $171 billion in assets was located in 102 foreign countries in 2015. The top 5 countries were:

  • United States ($24.8 billion)
  • Mexico ($19.4 billion)
  • Chile ($19.0 billion)
  • Argentina ($12.8 billion)
  • Peru ($9.3 billion).
Share of Canadian mining assets abroad, by country in 2015
Ranking Country Percentage
1 United States 15%
2 Mexico 11%
3 Chile 11%
4 Argentina 8%
5 Peru 6%
6 Zambia 5%
7 Brazil 5%
8 Panama 4%
9 Dominican Republic 4%
10 China 3%
- Other 28%

Canadian mining assets, 2015 (p)

Text version

This map of the world has the countries colour coded according to a range of values for Canadian mining assets (e.g., 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 asset values are listed. Refer to the table Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by junior and senior companies, 2007–2017 (si) for the specific values for each region.

Canadian mining assets, by global region, 2014–2015 (p)
Region 2014 ($ billions) 2015 (p) ($ billions) Variation ($ billions) Variation (%)
Africa 27 31 4.3 15.9
Americas (excluding Canada) 113 113 -0.1 -0.1
Asia 9 11 1.7 18.2
Europe 12 11 -0.9 -8.0
Oceania 5 4 -0.6 -12.2
Canadian mining assets abroad 166 171 4.4 2.6
Canada 84 88 4.3 5.2
Total Canadian mining assets 250 259 8.7 3.5

The top 10 companies accounted for almost two-thirds of total Canadian mining assets, with a combined value of $163.5 billion.

Learn more about the global presence of Canadian mining companies.

Indigenous participation

Indigenous representation in the natural resources sector has increased in the last decade, especially in the minerals and mineral processing industry.

Key facts

  • More than 11,000 Indigenous people were employed in the minerals sector in 2016.
  • Indigenous people accounted for around 8% of the mining industry’s labour force in 2011, making it the largest private sector employer on a participation basis.
  • In the last 10 years, about 370 agreements were signed between mining and exploration companies and Indigenous communities and governments.

Natural Resources Canada’s Lands and Minerals Sector (LMS) is committed to promoting Indigenous participation in mining activities throughout Canada by encouraging dialogue and sharing information to support informed decision-making, build partnerships and promote capacity-building.

Learn more about our tools and information products on Indigenous participation in exploration and mining.

Indigenous employment

Indigenous people accounted for approximately 8% of the mining and quarrying industry’s labour force in 2011, more than double the all-industry average representation of 3.4%.

In 2016, close to 30,000 Indigenous people living off reserves were employed in Canada’s natural resources sector, with approximately 11,000 employed in mining and mineral processing industries.

Nearly half of the Indigenous employment in the mining and mineral processing industry was in the upstream mining subsector. These numbers do not account for people living on reserves and settlements; thus the number of Indigenous people employed in minerals and metals may be underestimated.

Agreements between companies and Indigenous peoples

Agreements have helped secure benefits for Indigenous communities and businesses, and improved certainty for exploration and mining companies.

An estimated 498 agreements (active and expired agreements at the exploration, development and post-development stages) have been signed since 1974 for 312 mining and exploration projects. 

  • Around 400 agreements were still active in 2016.
  • More than half of active agreements are in Ontario and British Columbia.

The number of exploration-stage agreements signed doubled between 2006 and 2016.

Furthermore, there has been an overall increase in agreements for exploration, development and post-development stages, with:

  • 51 prior to 2000
  • 447 between 2000 and 2016

The increase is due to both a higher level of mining and exploration activity and a growing focus on building mutual understanding between Indigenous communities and mining companies.

Number of agreements signed between mining and exploration companies and Indigenous communities or governments, 2000–2016

Text version

This stacked bar chart shows the number of Indigenous mining and exploration agreements signed each year from 2000 to 2016 for exploration-stage and post-exploration-stage mining projects. It indicates increases in both the total number and the portion of agreements for exploration-stage projects signed each year from 2000 to 2012. From 2013 to 2016, the rate of agreements signed decreased relative to previous years, but the portion of exploration-stage agreements remained high.

Distribution of active agreements signed between mining and exploration companies and Indigenous communities or governments, by province and territory, 2016

Text version

This map of Canada shows the percentage of all active agreements in each province and territory in 2016. The majority were in Ontario (33.1%) and British Columbia (20.0%). The Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan each accounted for 8.8%, followed by Quebec with 7.5%. Nunavut, Yukon and the combined Atlantic provinces each accounted for around 6%. The remaining active agreements were in Manitoba (1.8%) and Alberta (1.5%).

Nominal GDP in the minerals sector

In 2016, the direct contribution of Canada’s minerals sector to Canada’s GDP was $64.4 billion, which represented 3.4% of Canada’s total GDP. The indirect impacts from the minerals sector added a further $22.8 billion to GDP, for a total impact of $87.2 billion.

Minerals sector nominal gross domestic product, by subsector and product group, 2016

Text version

This pie chart shows the dollar value of direct gross domestic product by minerals sector subsector for 2016. Stacked bars show a further breakdown by product group.

Employment in Canada’s minerals sector

The minerals sector offers well-paid, high-quality jobs for Canadians across the country, including in many northern and remote locations.

In 2016, the minerals sector directly employed 403,000 individuals and indirectly employed an additional 193,000, for a total of 596,000 individuals.

At $115,000, the average annual total compensation per job in the mining industry is nearly twice the all-industry average of $60,000.

Minerals sector direct employment by subsector and product group, 2016

Text version

This pie chart shows the number of direct jobs in the minerals sector subsectors. Stacked bars show a further breakdown by product group for 2016. Refer to the table Minerals sector employment, by subsector and product group, 2007–2016 for the specific values for each subsector and product.

Employment by subsector, by product group and by year
Minerals sector employment, by subsector and product group, 2007–2016
(000 jobs)
Subsector/Commodity group 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Primary 189 193 169 181 197 196 192 196 194 194
Extraction 49 53 47 51 55 56 54 58 58 58
Coal 5 5 5 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
Metallic minerals 26 27 23 24 27 30 30 34 34 35
Nonmetallic minerals 19 20 19 20 21 20 18 18 18 18
Services 28 30 26 30 38 41 38 37 35 34
Primary manufacturing 112 110 96 100 103 99 101 101 101 101
Primary metallic mineral products 60 61 50 53 57 51 53 52 52 553
Primary nonmetallic mineral products 52 49 46 47 47 48 48 49 49 48
Downstream 238 223 198 198 209 211 212 210 210 209
Secondary metal products 29 29 23 25 27 25 30 29 29 30
Tertiary metal products 138 131 120 116 121 126 128 126 125 123
Miscellaneous metal products 40 35 29 32 35 35 34 35 36 36
Services and custom work 31 29 25 25 25 24 21 20 20 20
Total minerals sector 427 416 367 379 405 407 404 407 405 403
Employment by industry and by year
Minerals sector employment, by industry, 2007–2016 (p)
(000 jobs)
Industry 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 (r) 2014 (r) 2015 (r) 2016 (p)
Mining and quarrying (except oil and gas) 51 55 49 53 56 58 66 74 72 71
Mining-related support
activities
20 22 19 22 30 33 29 26 26 25
Nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing 58 55 52 54 53 54 55 56 56 55
Primary metal manufacturing 82 83 66 71 79 68 69 66 65 65
Fabricated metal product manufacturing 191 180 164 161 165 170 166 164 162 159
Total 401 395 350 361 384 384 385 385 380 374
Compensation per job, by industry and by year
Minerals sector average annual total compensation per job, by industry, 2007–2016 (p)
(dollars)
Industry 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 (r) 2014 (r) 2015 (r) 2016 (p)
Mining and quarrying (except oil and gas) 92,664 98,303 107,745 107,030 109,682 112,462 120,880 116,759 115,941 115,174
Mining-related support
activities
94,616 98,718 95,674 98,280 102,357 103,435 104,491 107,649 106,961 104,917
Nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing 62,284 64,189 62,775 63,000 63,620 65,122 67,010 67,409 68,966 70,636
Primary metal manufacturing 88,742 85,955 87,084 88,751 87,439 95,192 96,413 99,306 105,547 102,277
Fabricated metal product manufacturing 58,946 62,011 60,368 59,676 62,359 65,374 68,643 70,053 70,109 71,280
Canadian all-industry average 48,859 50,335 50,813 51,440 53,195 54,919 56,341 58,015 59,107 59,903

Learn more about the employment in the minerals sector.

Financing

The Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and TSX Venture Exchange (TSX-V) are the world's primary listing venues for mining and mineral exploration companies, with more than 1,200 issuers, accounting for almost 50% of global listings in 2016.

In 2016, one-third ($9.4 billion) of the world’s total equity capital for these activities was raised by companies listed on the TSX or TSX-V, which also accounted for 57% of the number of mining equity financings for mineral exploration and mining globally. Canada is number one globally in equity financing raised for mining and mineral exploration.

Text version

This graphic shows that the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and the TSX Venture Exchange are the world’s primary listing venues for mining and mineral exploration companies. It also shows that these companies account for 50% of public mining and exploration companies, globally, and 57% of total financings, which raised almost $9 billion.

Government revenues

From 2011 to 2015, the mining and select manufacturing sectors (mining and quarrying, primary metal manufacturing and nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing) paid an average of $2.6 billion in corporate income taxes and royalties annually. Mining taxes and royalties paid to provinces and territories account for 60% of the value, while the remainder is paid in the form of corporate income taxes to the federal, provincial and territorial governments.

Text version

This graphic illustrates that Canadian governments receive taxes and royalties from the mining and select manufacturing sectors.

Read more on taxes relevant to the minerals and metals industries.

Trade

In 2016, Canada’s mineral imports and exports, which include ores, concentrates, and semi- and final-fabricated mineral products, recorded a balance of trade of +$15.8 billion.

Canadian mineral trade, by trading partner, 2016
($ billions)
Trading partner Domestic exports
(excluding re-exports)
Total
exports
Total
imports
Balance
of trade
United States 48.9 52.3 38.2 14.1
EU-28 19.2 19.5 6.4 13.1
China 4.2 4.3 8.4 -4.1
Japan 3.2 3.2 1.7 1.5
South Korea 2.4 2.4 1.1 1.3
India 1.8 1.8 0.8 1.0
Mexico 1.3 1.4 3.9 -2.5
Norway 1.2 1.2 0.1 1.0
Brazil 0.9 0.9 1.9 -1.0
Taiwan 0.7 0.7 1.1 -0.5
Other countries 4.9 5.2 13.3 -8.2
Total Canada 88.6 92.9 77.0 15.8

Exports

Valued at $88.6 billion in 2016, Canada’s domestic mineral exports accounted for 18.9% of its total exports.

Text version

This graphic shows that domestic mineral exports accounted for 19% of total exports. It also shows Canada’s main mineral export destinations: the United States, 55% ($49 billion); the European Union, 22% ($19 billion); China, 5% ($4 billion).

Canadian domestic mineral exports, by commodity, 2007–2016
($ billions)

Commodity
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Gold 6.1 8.9 9.3 15.1 18.3 16.9 17.7 17.9 17.6 18.4
Iron and steel 13.7 16.1 9.7 11.9 12.6 12.8 12.1 13.7 13.6 12.9
Aluminum 12.2 11.7 7.6 9.2 9.9 8.6 8.7 9.8 10.5 10.7
Copper 6.5 6.6 4.0 5.2 6.4 5.9 6.1 7.0 6.9 6.1
Coal 3.1 6.3 5.0 6.2 8.3 6.6 5.8 4.5 3.8 4.7
Potash and potassium compounds 3.0 6.3 3.7 5.2 6.7 6.1 5.8 5.2 6.9 4.7
Nickel 11.0 7.4 3.4 5.0 6.7 5.2 4.7 5.4 5.4 4.2
Iron ore 1.9 3.1 3.4 3.2 4.2 4.2 4.6 4.4 3.6 3.8
Diamonds 1.9 2.7 1.8 2.6 2.6 2.2 2.1 2.6 2.4 2.0
Uranium and thorium 2.9 1.8 1.5 1.8 2.4 1.7 2.0 1.4 1.7 2.0
All other minerals 17.7 19.3 13.2 14.8 17.9 17.9 17.2 17.6 19.7 19.2
Total 80.1 90.2 62.7 80.2 95.9 88.1 86.9 89.6 92.0 88.6

Learn more about Canada’s mineral imports and exports.

Minerals sector investment

In 2016, the minerals sector invested $13.2 billion in new capital construction and in machinery and equipment, accounting for 6% of the Canadian total.

Text version

This graphic shows that the minerals sector accounted for 6% of non-residential capital investment in Canada, and that it invested $13 billion in new capital construction (mining and related support activities, $9 billion; mineral processing, $4 billion).

Minerals sector capital expenditures, by industry, 2007–2017 (si)
($ billions)
Industry 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 (p) 2017 (si)
Mining and quarrying (except oil and gas) 5.8 7.3 6.2 9.1 12.2 16.9 15.1 11.1 10.2 8.8 7.4
Mining-related support activities 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.3 0.6 0.6 0.7 0.4 0.4 0.2 0.2
Nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 1.0 1.1 1.2 0.6
Primary metal manufacturing 1.3 1.6 0.9 1.8 2.9 3.9 3.5 3.3 3.2 2.3 2.2
Fabricated metal product manufacturing 0.7 0.7 0.8 0.6 0.7 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.7 0.7 0.8
Total 8.9 10.8 8.9 12.5 17.1 22.5 20.3 16.5 15.7 13.2 11.2

Learn more about capital investment by Canada’s minerals sector.

Major natural resource projects

In 2017, current and potential investment in major mining-related projects (e.g., mine constructions, redevelopments, expansions and processing facilities) was estimated at $80 billion in capital expenditures over the next 10 years, across 101 projects. This is compared to 97 projects and $90 billion in 2016.

Learn more about major natural resource projects that are planned and under construction over the next 10 years. (PDF, 3.69 MB)

Green technologies and clean energy applications

Developing Canada’s natural resources sector in clean and sustainable ways will ensure that it can continue to contribute to the Canadian economy for years to come.

Adoption of advanced green technologies

Mining ranked among the top industries for the adoption of advanced green technologies in 2014 (most recent year available). The sector was also among the highest reporting a strong likelihood of adopting green technologies within the next two years.

Text version

This graphic shows mining’s rank in adoption of the following types of advanced green technologies: water technologies, third; energy technologies, fourth; waste technologies, eighth; and air and emission technologies, ninth.

Learn more about the Green Mining Initiative.

Clean energy applications

Canada is primed to respond to increased demand for both traditional and emerging commodities needed in the production of clean technology applications.

The country is a key global producer of copper, nickel and cobalt, and hosts a number of 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.

Learn more about enabling clean energy applications.

Notes and sources

(p) preliminary

(si) spending intentions

(r) revised

f.o.b. free on board

Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding.

Mineral production

  • Canada’s mineral production, global ranking
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada; U.S. Geological Survey; World Nuclear Association
  • Mineral production, by commodity group, 2007–2016 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
  • Mineral production, by commodity group, 2007–2016 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
  • Leading minerals, by value of production, 2016 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
    • Potash, excludes shipments to potassium sulphate plants
    • Sand and gravel, excludes shipments of sand, gravel and stone to Canadian cement, lime and clay plants
    • Cement, includes exported clinker
    • The uranium value was calculated using spot market prices
  • Mineral production, by province and territory, 2015 and 2016 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
  • Mineral production, by province and territory, 2007–2016 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
  • Average annual prices of select commodities, 2007–2016
    • Platts Metals Week for base metals, molybdenum and precious metals (base metals are based on London Metal Exchange [LME] Settlement prices, molybdenum on the MW Means, gold on the London Final, silver on Handy+Harman, and platinum and palladium on the PM Fix)
    • Cameco Corporation for uranium (uranium price is the U.S. spot price)
    • IndexMundi for iron ore, metallurgical coal and thermal coal
    • Potash prices are based on the realized price of Canadian potash exports to offshore markets and are calculated by Natural Resources Canada.

Mineral exploration

  • Exploration and deposit appraisal percentage of expenditures, by mineral commodity group, 2007 and 2017 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada, based on the annual Survey of Exploration, Deposit Appraisal and Mine Complex Development Expenditures
    • “Precious metals” include gold, silver and platinum group metals (iridium, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhodium and ruthenium). “Base metals” refer to nonferrous metals such as copper, lead, nickel and zinc. “Other metals” refers to all other metals not captured under the precious metals, base metals, uranium and iron ore categories.
  • Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by mineral commodity group, 2007–2017 (si)
    • Natural Resources Canada, based on the annual Survey of Exploration, Deposit Appraisal and Mine Complex Development Expenditures
    • “Precious metals” include gold, silver and platinum group metals (iridium, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhodium and ruthenium). “Base metals” refer to nonferrous metals such as copper, lead, nickel and zinc. “Other metals” refers to all other metals not captured under the precious metals, base metals, uranium and iron ore categories.
  • Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by province and territory, 2015–2017 (si)
    • Natural Resources Canada, based on the annual Survey of Exploration, Deposit Appraisal and Mine Complex Development Expenditures
    • Exploration and deposit appraisal activities include all activities carried out to search for, discover, characterize and define in detail a mineral deposit for the pre-feasibility and final feasibility studies that will support a production decision and the investment required. Expenditures include on-mine-site and off-mine-site activities, field work, overhead costs, engineering, economic and pre-production or production feasibility studies, and environment and land access costs.
  • Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures and metals and minerals price index, 1997–2017 (si)
    • Natural Resources Canada, based on the annual Survey of Exploration, Deposit Appraisal and Mine Complex Development Expenditures
  • Exploration and deposit appraisal share of expenditures, by junior and senior companies, 2007–2017 (si)
    • Natural Resources Canada, based on the annual Survey of Exploration, Deposit Appraisal and Mine Complex Development Expenditures
  • Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by junior and senior companies, 2007–2017 (si)
    • Natural Resources Canada, based on the annual Survey of Exploration, Deposit Appraisal and Mine Complex Development Expenditures

Canadian mining assets

  • Share of Canadian mining assets abroad, by country in 2015
    • Natural Resources Canada 
  • Canadian mining assets, 2015 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • Canadian mining assets, by global region, 2014–15 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada 
    • Canadian mining asset values are those reported in company financial reports, nearest to December 31, 2015, for public companies headquartered in Canada that are not under foreign control. Mining assets, in this context, reflect non-current assets, including mineral properties, deferred mineral exploration expenses, royalties, investments in non-Canadian mining companies, and other non-current assets related to mining that can be reconciled to a specific geographic location. Canadian mining assets include values for all countries including Canada, while Canadian mining assets abroad include values for all countries except Canada.

Indigenous participation

  • Number of agreements signed between mining and exploration companies and indigenous communities or governments, 2000–2016
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • Distribution of active agreements signed between mining and exploration companies and indigenous communities or governments, by province and territory, 2016
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • The Indigenous employment numbers presented in this section are from Statistics Canada’s 2016 Labour Force Survey (LFS). The LFS excludes persons living on reserves and settlements. Although the LFS produces employment estimates for the territories, it uses a different methodology from the one used for the provinces and does not provide estimates at the industry level required for this report. Consequently, the data included in this section are incomplete and may underestimate the number of Indigenous people employed in the mining sector.
  • Indigenous representation in the mining industry is based on data from the 2011 National Household Survey.

Nominal GDP in the minerals sector

  • Minerals sector nominal gross domestic product, by subsector and product group, 2016
    • Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Satellite Account, CANSIM Table 388-0010

Employment in Canada’s minerals sector

  • Minerals sector employment, by subsector and product group, 2016
    • Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Satellite Account, annual average, CANSIM Table 388-0010
  • Minerals sector employment, by subsector and product group, 2007–2016
    • Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Satellite Account, annual average, CANSIM Table 388-0010
  • Minerals sector employment, by industry, 2007–2016 (p)
    • Statistics Canada, CANSIM Table 383-0031
  • Minerals sector average annual total compensation per job, by industry, 2007–2016 (p)
    • Statistics Canada, CANSIM Table 383-0031

Financing

  • Key facts
    • TMX group

Government revenues

  • Key facts
    • Statistics Canada; Natural Resources Canada, based on provincial/territorial public accounts

Trade

  • Canadian mineral trade, by trading partner, 2016
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
    • Mineral trade includes ores, concentrates, and semi- and final-fabricated mineral products. Includes coal. European Union (EU-28): Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
  • Exports key facts
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
  • Canadian domestic mineral exports, by commodity, 2007–2016
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
  • Mineral trade include ores, concentrates, and semi- and final-fabricated mineral products.

Minerals sector investment

  • Key facts
    • Natural Resources Canada calculations, based on Statistics Canada data
  • Minerals sector capital expenditures, by industry, 2007–2017 (si)
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada, CANSIM Table 029-0045

Green technologies and clean energy applications

  • Key facts
    • Statistics Canada

Minerals sector

The minerals sector refers to the following North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industries:

  • Mining:
    • NAICS 212—mining and quarrying (except oil and gas)
  • Mining-related support activities:
    • NAICS 213117—contract drilling (except oil and gas)
    • NAICS 213119—other support activities for mining, including mineral exploration
  • Mineral processing:
    • NAICS 327—nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing
    • NAICS 331—primary metal manufacturing
    • NAICS 332—fabricated metal product manufacturing

The mining-related support activities subsector includes exploration and drilling companies, and service companies operating on a fee or contract basis. It does not include all mining industry suppliers as some entities service multiple sectors (e.g., transportation, construction, finance and legal).

Gross domestic product and employment values are based on the Statistics Canada Natural Resources Satellite Account (NRSA), which estimates the contribution of resource-related activities to the Canadian economy. The NRSA defines natural resource activities as products and services originating from naturally occurring assets, such as minerals, used in economic activity. In this way, the NRSA goes beyond an industry perspective of natural resources and seeks to identify natural resource activities and products within the Canadian economy. For the NRSA-based indicators, the minerals sector includes activities involved in:

  • Extracting and initial processing of mineral products (also referred to as primary production):
    • Extraction of coal, metallic (e.g., copper, gold, lead, nickel, silver and zinc) and nonmetallic (e.g., diamonds, potash, salt and stone) minerals
    • Services for mining and quarrying, and exploration
    • Primary metallic mineral products (e.g., aluminum and aluminum-alloy ingots and billets, iron and steel basic shapes and ferro-alloy products, and refined precious and base metals)
    • Primary nonmetallic mineral products (e.g., clay products, glass and glass products, and cement)
  • Downstream processing and manufacturing of metal products, which use a large portion of metal products as inputs:
    • Secondary metal products (e.g., iron and steel pipes and foundry products)
    • Tertiary metal products (e.g., cutlery and forged and stamped products)
    • Miscellaneous metal products (e.g., communication and energy wire and cable, and motor vehicle metal stamping)
    • Services and custom work (e.g., coating, engraving and heat treating)

Statistics Canada, The Natural Resources Satellite Account: Feasibility Study