Canadian Mining Assets

Information Bulletin

(published in February 2018)

The Global Presence of Canadian Mining Companies

(Note: All values are in Canadian dollars.)

Canada is home to approximately half of the world’s publicly listed mining and exploration firmsFootnote 1. Many of these companies not only are active domestically but also have sizeable operations abroad. Therefore, the Canadian mining assetsFootnote 2 (CMA) provide important insight on the breadth and depth of the global presence of Canadian mining and mineral exploration companies.

Total CMA, held by 1,344 companies, amounted to $254.4 billion in 2016, a 1.4% decline from the 2015 value of $258.0 billion. Of this total, 651 companies had Canadian mining assets abroad (CMAA) worth $163.9 billion, down 3.1% from the 2015 value of $169.1 billion. Canadian companies were present in 101 foreign countries in 2016, which is relatively stable compared to 102 countries in 2015, but down from a peak of 110 in 2011. CMAA accounted for about two thirds of total CMA for both years.

Although 2016 marks the first year-over-year decline of CMA and CMAA values, the positive trend of the last few years had largely been enabled by the appreciation of the U.S. dollar. Between 2013 and 2015, the value of the U.S. dollar rose almost 30% from C$1.064 to C$1.371Footnote 3 and had a notable impact on the value of assets for firms that report their financial results in U.S. dollars, which account for almost 80% of the total value of CMA. More recently, exchange rates have stabilized, declining by 2.8% during 2016. Had the exchange rate remained constant over the last five years (2012–16), the value of CMA would have declined on a yearly average by 1.6% rather than increasing by 3.7%.

CMAA by Region

CMAA in all regions experienced declines in value in 2016, while growth occurred domestically. Table 1 displays the value and percentage distribution of CMAA by region. Figure 1 identifies the percentage of CMAA for the top 10 countries, and Figure 4 provides more regional details on a map. Below is a regional overview that highlights notable changes in the value of assets and some of the principal contributing events.

The overall value of CMA in Africa declined 5.5% in 2016. The top three countries by value (Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo [DRC], and Madagascar) experienced declines, with the most significant occurring in the DRC, which was partly offset by gains in Mali and South Africa. Key developments included:

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (-$1.3 billion): Lundin Mining recorded an impairment loss as a result of a definitive agreement to sell its indirectly held interest in the Tenke Fungurume copper-cobalt mine, which was completed in April 2017.
  • Mali (+$308 million): B2Gold has a majority interest in the Fekola Gold project, which was under construction in 2016 and is slated to start production at the end of 2017.
  • South Africa (+$401.5 million): Platinum Group Metals was ramping up the Maseve platinum mine.

The majority of CMAA (68.6%) were located in the Western Hemisphere (the Americas) where the value of assets slightly declined compared to the previous year. Latin America and the Caribbean accounted for 54% of CMAA with a value of $88.0 billion in 2016. The total value in the region changed very little compared to the previous year since increases in assets held in Panama, Brazil, and Peru were offset by declines in Chile and Mexico. Key developments included:

  • Brazil (+$808.1 million): Wheaton Precious Metals (formerly Silver Wheaton), a precious metals streaming company, increased its interest in Vale’s Salobo copper-gold mine again in 2016.
  • Chile (-$1.6 billion): Yamana Gold recorded an impairment loss in 2016 at its El Peñón gold-silver mine.
  • Mexico (-$1.1 billion): Aurcana sold its La Negra silver mine to a foreign interest. Yamana Gold sold its Mercedes gold mine to Premier Gold Mines, another Canadian company, but the asset was recorded at a lower value. Primero Mining recorded an impairment loss at its San Dimas gold mine.
  • Panama (+$1.3 billion): First Quantum Minerals continued to develop its Cobre Panama copper mine, which was reported to be 46% complete at the end of 2016 and is scheduled to commence production in 2018. Capital expenditures for the project are anticipated to total $7.3 billion.
  • Peru (+$531.8 million): Franco-Nevada acquired a precious metals stream from Glencore’s Antapaccay copper mine.

In the United States, almost 250 Canadian mining and exploration companies had mineral interests with a cumulative value of $24.5 billion, which accounted for 15% of the total and remained relatively unchanged compared to the previous year.

After having experienced the greatest growth in CMAA last year, Asia experienced the greatest decline in percentage terms (-19.4%) in 2016. The decline was mostly the result of the sale by Eldorado Gold of its gold interests in China, which included the Jinfeng gold mine, the White Mountain gold mine, the Tanjianshan gold mine, and the Eastern Dragon gold project.

In Europe, CMAA declined by 8.5% in value in 2016, a similar amount compared to last year. The decline occurred mostly in Finland (-$1.2 billion), where First Quantum Minerals sold its Kevitsa nickel-copper-platinum group elements mine.

CMAA in Oceania fell by 4.2% to $4.1 billion in value in 2016. Almost three quarters of the total value in this region is located in Australia (-$246 million), where Cameco decided to write off the full value of its Kintyre uranium project.

CMA by Company Type

The 2016 overall value of CMA held by junior companiesFootnote 4 of $15.5 billion remained relatively unchanged compared to the previous year. However, the number of junior companies has declined by 6%, from 1,268 companies in 2015 to 1,188 in 2016. Some companies were the subject of a merger or acquisition, while others left the industry, became dormant, or ceased to exist.

Junior companies accounted for almost 90% of the total company count and for approximately 6% of the total value in CMA in 2016. The largest share of the value of their assets (40%) was located in Canada, with another 38% situated elsewhere in the Americas. Figure 2 provides an overview of junior companies’ CMA by region.

In 2016, the total value of CMA for senior companiesFootnote 4 declined 1.6% to $254 billion. Senior companies accounted for over 90% of the value of CMA, while the top 10 companies accounted for over 60% of the total with a cumulative value of $158.5 billion. Senior companies held a smaller portion of their assets by value in Canada (35%), but held a large portion of their assets in the rest of the Americas (45%). Figure 3 provides an overview of the value of senior companies’ CMA by region.

Annual Variations

In comparing changes in asset totals across years, it is important to consider the causes of variations. Additions to the stock of assets arise mostly from mining asset development and construction. Reductions occur from asset write-offs, impairments, depreciation, sales, and mine closures. Exchange rate movements, changes in accounting methods, mergers and acquisitions, and the relocation of company headquarters can also contribute to annual variations in the value.

Use of CMAA Statistics

CMAA is intended to provide a picture of the global presence of Canada’s mining and exploration companies, and the scope of that presence in any given country. Some care is required when answering the question “What is the value of Canadian mining investment in Country X?” 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.


Figure 1
Percentage of CMAA by Country, 2016 (p)



Source: Natural Resources Canada.
(p) Preliminary.

Text version

Figure 1
Percentage of CMAA by Country, 2016

Figure 1 is a pie chart that shows the leading countries with Canadian mining assets abroad in 2016. More than half of Canada's mining assets abroad are in five countries of the Western Hemisphere: the United States (15%), Mexico (11%), Chile (11%), Argentina (8%) and Brazil (6%). The other leading countries are Peru, Zambia, Panama, the Dominican Republic and China, each with a share ranging from 2% to 6%.

Figure 2
Junior Company CMA, by Region, 2015 and 2016 (p)



Source: Natural Resources Canada.
(p) Preliminary.

Text version

Figure 2
Junior Company CMA, by Region, 2015 and 2016

Figure 2 is a column chart that shows the geographic distribution of Canadian mining assets of junior companies in 2015 and 2016. Those in Canada are worth about $6 billion, having increased slightly in 2016. Those elsewhere in the Americas have decreased slightly in 2016 to just under $6 billion. Those in Africa are valued around $2 billion, a slight decrease from 2015. Those in Oceania, Asia, and Europe are valued at around $0.5 billion, $0.3 billion, and $0.3 billion respectively, and have not changed appreciably from 2015.

Figure 3
Senior Company CMA, by Region, 2015 and 2016 (p)



Source: Natural Resources Canada.
(p) Preliminary.

Text version

Figure 3
Senior Company CMA, by Region, 2015 and 2016

Figure 3 is a column chart that shows the geographic distribution of Canadian mining assets of senior companies in 2015 and 2016. In the Americas (except Canada) they were worth approximately $106 billion in 2015 and 2016. In Canada they were worth about $83 billion in 2015 and 2016. The value of those in Africa was about $26 billion, both years. In Europe and Asia the value was about $10 billion, both years. And in Oceania the value was about $4 billion, both years.

Figure 4
Geographic Distribution of CMA in 2016 (p)



Source: Natural Resources Canada.
(p) Preliminary; M million; B billion.
Notes: All amounts are in Canadian dollars. Company counts are for the 2016 reference year and do not add to totals since companies can be active in multiple jurisdictions.

Text version

Figure 4
Geographic Distribution of CMA in 2016

Figure 4 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 2015 and 2016 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, 2015 and 2016 (p)
Region 2015 2016 (p) Change
($ billions) (%)
Africa 30.3 28.6 -5.5
Americas (excluding Canada) 112.8 112.5 -0.3
Asia 11.0 8.9 -19.4
Europe 10.7 9.8 -8.5
Oceania 4.3 4.1 -4.2
Total CMAA 169.1 163.9 -3.1
Canada 88.8 90.4 1.8
Total CMA 258.0 254.4 -1.4

Source: Natural Resources Canada.
(p) Preliminary.
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 all assets and liabilities Examines only non-current mining asset values
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: incorporated in Canada with foreign affiliates Canadian company: headquarters in Canada and not foreign controlled
Limited data by region for mining CMAA are available by country

Source: Natural Resources Canada.

Annex 1. Canadian Mining Assets (CMA) by Country and Region, 2015 and 2016

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Natural Resources, 2018