Minerals Sector Employment

Information Bulletin, 2016

(published in August 2017)

Canada’s minerals sector is a pillar of the national economy, supporting jobs, economic activity, and high living standards in all regions of the country. Data from Statistics Canada’s recently instituted Natural Resources Satellite Account (NRSA)Footnote 1 indicate that Canada’s minerals sector (including mining and extraction, support services, and downstream mineral processing and mineral product manufacturing) directly employed 403,000 individuals in 2016, which is comparable to employment levels in 2015. Over half of all minerals sector employment was concentrated in downstream processing and manufacturing activities (Figure 1).

In addition, through the purchase of goods and services, the minerals sector generates significant economic activity and employment in other sectors of the Canadian economy, which, in 2016, represented an estimated 193,000 indirect jobs.Footnote 2 These jobs are part of Canada’s minerals sector business ecosystem and have contributed to establishing the country’s global reputation as a mineral industry leader. Such employment is widespread across the economy and in the more than 3,000 suppliers of mining equipment and services, in industries such as finance, legal, engineering, transportation, and construction. Thus, in 2016, the minerals sector directly and indirectly employed approximately 596,000 individuals.

Based on data from Statistics Canada’s System of National Accounts labour statistics,Footnote 3Footnote 4 total direct employment in the Canadian minerals sector fell 6.7% between 2007 and 2016, representing a loss of 27,000 jobs. Employment gains of over 25,000 jobs in upstream activities (including mineral exploration and extraction) were offset by a decrease of over 52,000 jobs in downstream activities (including mineral processing and manufacturing) during this same 10-year period (Figure 2). This trend highlights Canada’s natural resources wealth, its strength in mineral extraction, and changing patterns of production and use along value chains.

Employment in the Minerals Sector by Industry

In the mining and quarrying industry,Footnote 5 employment totaled 71,380 workers in 2016, a marginal decrease (-0.8%) from 2015 (Figure 2). These stable employment values are the result of mine openings and re-openings (Table 1) that offset closures during the year. Employment remained flat in the metal mining subsector in 2016 with employment losses in iron ore mining (-3.1%), base-metal mining (-9.6%), and other metal mining (-3.9%), offset by gains in gold and silver mining (+12.0%). Employment grew in nonmetal mining (+1.3%) in 2016, led by increases in sand and gravel mining (10.7%), stone mining and quarrying (4.8%), and diamond mining (2.1%), which negated losses in the potash industry (-8.7%) from the closure of Potash Corporation’s Picadilly operation in New Brunswick. Coal mining experienced a decline of 16.3%, continuing a downward trend that began in 2014. Total compensation per job of $115,174 in the mining and quarrying industry was nearly double the Canadian all-industry average ($59,903).

In 2016, employment in the mining support activities industry,Footnote 6 which includes exploration activities, decreased 3.1% to 24,730, marking the fourth consecutive year of decline in this important industry (Figure 2). This industry was hit hard by the global economic recession in 2009, which forced companies to significantly curtail mineral exploration and development activities. As a result, employment fell to a cyclical low of 18,810 jobs that year. Buoyed by an unexpectedly quick recovery, employment values trended upward in subsequent years to reach over 33,000 jobs in 2012 before beginning their descent. Optimism is returning to the global minerals sector, which could translate into increased exploration activity; early indications point to upward movements in employment levels in this subsector over the first few months of 2017.Footnote 7 Total compensation per job in the industry for 2016 was approximately $104,917, down marginally from the previous year, but still among the highest values on record.

The nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in lime, cement, concrete, glass, and other nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing. Employment in this industry decreased 2.8% to 54,685 in 2016, marking the first year-over-year decrease since 2011 (Figure 2). Despite employment declines, total compensation per job has increased for seven consecutive years to reach $70,636 in 2016.

The primary metal manufacturing industry, comprised primarily of facilities engaged in the smelting and refining of ferrous and nonferrous metals, employed 64,740 workers in 2016, up marginally (0.1%) from 2015 (Figure 2). Over the longer term, employment has trended downward with 2016 employment values 20.8% lower relative to 2007 and down 36.9% compared to 2000. Employment losses reflect changes in downstream manufacturing activity, slower growth, productivity improvements, and lower metal output as a result of domestic mine closures and competition for feed. Total compensation per job in 2016 was $102,277, a 3.1% decrease from 2015.

The fabricated metal product manufacturing industry accounts for nearly half of all minerals sector employment and comprises establishments primarily engaged in forging, stamping, forming, turning, and joining processes to produce ferrous and nonferrous metal products. Employment decreased 2.0% in 2016 to 187,700, continuing the long downward trend in this industry (Figure 2). Total compensation per job increased 1.7% in 2016 to $71,280.

Employment in the Minerals Sector by Region

Two-thirds of total minerals sector employment is concentrated in Ontario and Quebec, which is largely attributable to the presence of a significant downstream manufacturing industry in these jurisdictions. Year over year, employment fell in all jurisdictions except Nunavut, which experienced increases in gold-and-silver ore mining, and New Brunswick, which saw an increase in employment levels in the support activities for the mining subsector.

Future Hiring Requirements

Going forward, the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR) forecasts cumulative hiring requirements for the mining industry ranging from approximately 43,000 to 130,000 for the period 2018-27. Footnote 8Footnote 9These requirements would mostly stem from workers leaving the industry for reasons such as retirement. Moreover, the MIHR compared these requirements to a forecast of available talent in a number of occupations. The largest potential gaps identified were in professional and physical science occupations, supervisors, coordinators, foremen, and technical occupations. As the mining industry becomes increasingly reliant on advanced machinery and technology, the educational structure of its workforce will continue to evolve.

Workforce Diversity

With respect to labour force diversity, the minerals sector is an important employer of Indigenous Peoples, providing jobs to over 11,000 individuals, mainly in the upstream mining and quarrying industry.Footnote 10 The MiHR highlighted the mining industry’s success, relative to other industries, in employing Indigenous Peoples, who comprise 6% of the mining industry workforce compared to 4% in other industries. However, it noted that Indigenous Peoples remain underrepresented in certain occupational categories, particularly those related to mining-specific jobs such as engineering managers and geological engineers.

As it pertains to women, the MiHR noted some of the mining industry’s limitations. Nationally, women comprise 48% of the Canadian workforce, but only 17% of the mining labour force. An examination of mining-specific jobs reveals a wider gap for women, who represent only 12% of employment in these occupations. Low representation of women is not exclusive to the mining industry, but persistent in resource-based industries and other industries such as construction. By working to close these gaps, the minerals sector could simultaneously address its anticipated skilled labour hiring challenges and add diverse skillsets and perspectives to the workforce.

Note: Information in this bulletin was current as of June 16, 2017.


Figure 1
Minerals Sector Employment, 2016

Minerals Sector Employment, 2016

Source: Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Satellite Account.

  • Text Version - Figure 1


    Figure 1. Minerals Sector Employment, 2016
    Indirect 196,000
    Direct 403,000
       Mining  (including services) 92,541
       Primary manufacturing 101,208
       Downstream 209,330

    Source: Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Satellite Account.





Figure 2
Minerals Sector Direct Employment, 2007-16

Minerals Sector Direct Employment, 2007-16

Source: Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Satellite Account.

  • Text Version - Figure 2


    Figure 2. Minerals Sector Direct Employment, 2007-16
    Year Mining and Quarrying Support Activities for Mining Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing Primary Metal Manufacturing Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing Total
    2007 50,925 19,515 58,250 81,740 190,680 401,110
    2008 54,780 21,850 55,070 82,960 180,030 394,690
    2009 48,830 18,810 52,215 66,015 164,250 350,120
    2010 52,670 22,350 54,150 70,570 161,075 360,815
    2011 56,330 29,985 53,490 78,980 165,465 384,250
    2012 58,420 33,395 54,390 68,480 169,570 384,255
    2013 66,235 29,425 54,645 69,065 165,550 384,920
    2014 73,590 25,960 55,670 66,180 163,795 385,195
    2015 71,960 25,525 56,275 64,650 162,020 380,430
    2016 71,380 24,730 54,685 64,740 158,770 374,305

    Source: Statistics Canada, System of National Accounts.



Table 1. Mine Openings and Closings in 2016
Mine Name Month Province/Territory Primary Commodity
Little Narrows September Nova Scotia Gypsum
Picadilly January New Brunswick Potash, salt
Harper Ranch October British Columbia Limestone
Benson Lake June British Columbia Limestone
Quinsam January British Columbia Coal (thermal)
Rabbit Lake April Saskatchewan Uranium
Colonsay July Saskatchewan Potash, salt
Huckleberry August British Columbia Copper, molybdenum, gold
Caribou July New Brunswick Zinc, lead, copper, silver
Elder January Quebec Gold, silver
Renard December Quebec Diamonds
Sleeping Giant August Quebec Gold, silver
Brule October British Columbia Coal (metallurgical)

Source: Natural Resources Canada.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Natural Resources, 2017