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 five global producers for cadmium, cobalt, diamonds, gemstones, gold, graphite, indium, nickel, niobium, platinum group metals, salt, titanium concentrate 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 mines and 6,500 sand, gravel and stone quarries
  • The total value of Canada's mineral production reached $47.0 billion in 2018
  • Gold was the top-ranked commodity by value of production in Canada in 2018 with a value of $9.6 billion
Canada's mineral production
Text version

This graphic shows the value of Canada's mineral production: metals, $26.2 billion; non-metals, $14.4 billion; coal, $6.4 billion. It also shows Canada's global ranking for potash (first), gemstones (second) and platinum group metals (third).

Mineral production by commodity group

The total value of Canadian mineral production in 2018 was $47.0 billion, 4.3% higher than the 2017 value of $45.1 billion. All commodity groups recorded gains in value, but results for individual commodities varied, with potash recording the largest year-over-year increase at 25.7% or $1.1 billion.

Mineral production, by commodity group, 2009–2018 (p)

Mineral production, by commodity group, 2009–2018
Text version

This bar graph shows the value of mineral production by commodity group for each year from 2009 to 2018(p). Refer to the table Mineral production, by commodity group, 2009–2018 (p) for the specific values for each region.

Mineral production, by commodity group, 2009–2018 (p)
($ millions)
Commodity group 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 (p)
Metals 15,475 21,379 25,994 23,558 23,497 24,225 23,126 23,299 25,485 26,200
Non-metals 10,138 13,187 16,253 14,850 13,858 14,086 14,830 12,121 13,304 14,398
Coal 4,406 5,541 7,471 5,881 4,887 3,897 3,126 4,009 6,281 6,408
Total for Canada 30,019 40,107 49,718 44,289 42,242 42,208 41,082 39,429 45,070 47,007

Canada's top five mineral products by value for 2018 were gold, coal, potash, iron ore and copper. Their combined value was $31 billion, accounting for 66% of the total value of mineral production.

Leading minerals, by value of production, 2018 (p)

Leading minerals, by value of production, 2018
Text version

This bar graph shows the leading minerals by value of production as a percentage of the total for 2018. The top three commodities were gold (20%), coal (14%) and potash (12%).

Canada's mineral production by province and territory

Minerals are produced in every province and territory. The top four provinces, Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan, accounted for over three-quarters of Canada's total value of mineral production in 2018.

Mineral production, by province and territory, 2017 and 2018 (p)

Mineral production, by province and territory, 2017 and 2018
Text version

The bar graphs superimposed on this map of Canada show the amount of mineral production (in current dollars) for each province and territory for the years 2017 and 2018(p). The top jurisdictions by value of mineral production in 2018 were Ontario ($10.1 billion), Quebec ($10.0 billion) and British Columbia ($9.7 billion).

Mineral production, by province and territory, 2009–2018 (p)
($ millions)
Province/Territory 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 (p)
Newfoundland and Labrador 2,409 4,583 5,073 4,297 4,079 3,210 2,783 2,697 3,513 2,817
Prince Edward Island 4 3 3 4 4 4 5 6 5 5
Nova Scotia 232 198 197 193 188 168 192 206 248 372
New Brunswick 1,100 1,211 1,335 1,156 598 439 444 375 397 345
Quebec 5,271 6,795 8,095 7,695 7,733 8,112 7,204 7,797 8,923 9,987
Ontario 5,803 7,574 10,124 8,933 9,633 10,392 10,338 10,051 10,099 10,060
Manitoba 1,341 1,695 1,794 1,492 1,306 1,428 1,347 1,418 1,659 1,504
Saskatchewan 5,059 6,488 9,101 7,790 6,858 6,779 8,072 5,537 5,838 6,737
Alberta 1,634 1,958 2,347 2,361 2,278 2,246 2,108 2,321 1,930 2,032
British Columbia 5,418 6,943 8,717 7,543 6,812 6,503 5,882 6,424 8,996 9,657
Yukon 240 299 367 486 467 408 246 391 318 217
Northwest Territories 1,507 2,045 2,138 1,725 1,659 1,882 1,817 1,507 2,105 2,111
Nunavut 317 427 614 629 636 644 700 1,039 1,164
Total for Canada 30,018 40,109 49,718 44,289 42,244 42,207 41,082 39,430 45,070 47,007

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 2018, more than 3,700 firms in Canada were available to provide technical, legal, financial, accounting, environmental and other expertise to the exploration and mining 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

This map displays the locations of significant metallic, non-metallic 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 concentration and quantity allow for extraction and processing at a profit.

Key facts

  • Preliminary figures for 2018 indicate that mining and mineral exploration companies spent $2.3 billion on exploration and deposit appraisal projects in Canada, compared with $2.2 billion in 2017
  • 2019 expenditures are expected to be similar to 2018 at $2.2 billion, based on reported spending intentions
  • Canadian-headquartered exploration and mining companies accounted for the largest portion of worldwide non-ferrous exploration budgets, reaching 37% in 2018
  • Canada remained the world's top destination for non-ferrous mineral exploration in 2018, attracting 15% of global exploration budgets

Spending on mineral exploration and deposit appraisal activity depends largely on market conditions and commodity prices. Over the last decade, mineral and metal prices fluctuated significantly, reaching a historic high in 2011, which was followed by a period of decline that ended in 2016, when the prices of most precious and base metals began to rise again. The recovery of mineral prices continued until the first half of 2018 but the remainder of 2018 saw prices steadily decline.

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures and metals and minerals price index, 1998–2019 (si)

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures and metals and minerals price index, 1998–2019
Text version

This line graph 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 1998 to 2019. Peak years for both variables were in 2008 and 2011.

Mineral exploration by commodity

Canada benefits from a diversified mineral endowment that includes traditional commodities, such as gold, base metals and diamonds, as well as commodities used in highly clean energy applications and advanced technologies, such as rare earth elements, graphite and lithium.

Precious metals, particularly gold, remained the leading target for exploration spending ($1.4 billion), accounting for 61% of total spending in 2018. This represents one of the highest ratio and underscores the importance of rising gold prices in recent overall trends.

Base metals and diamonds saw significant increases in expenditures in 2018 by 23.5% and 35.4% respectively. Spending for other metals continues to increase into 2018 however more modestly compared to previous years. Other metals include cobalt and lithium, which have garnered significant attention as a result of increased demand associated with their use in electric vehicle batteries.

Exploration and deposit appraisal percentage of expenditures, by mineral commodity group, 2009 and 2018 (p)

Exploration and deposit appraisal
Text version

This set of two circular charts shows exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures by mineral commodity group for 2009 and 2018. In 2009, precious metals accounted for 51% of spending, base metals 15% and uranium 11%. In 2018, precious metals accounted for 61% of the spending, base metals 16% and uranium 7%. Refer to the table Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by mineral commodity group, 2009–2018 (p) for specific values by commodity group for individual years.

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by mineral commodity group, 2009–2018 (p)
($ millions)
Commodity Group 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 (p)
Precious metals 989.3 1,443.9 2,277.3 1,842.7 1,103.6 849.4 857.5 952.6 1,430.5 1,423.2
Base metals 296.6 551.9 734.1 633.0 419.3 420.0 382.0 236.7 322.2 363.3
Iron ore 61.4 110.1 307.0 358.6 130.7 69.1 28.1 22.5 9.1 24.7
Uranium 205.1 190.4 197.6 205.1 167.4 184.4 170.2 163.9 137.4 164.6
Diamonds 70.0 106.8 91.9 74.6 72.9 109.9 119.3 77.7 83.2 106.8
Other metals 99.1 141.8 260.8 230.9 191.9 125.3 68.7 48.0 89.0 102.9
Non-metals 165.9 168.8 214.2 313.6 116.5 136.0 124.8 81.2 58.4 63.8
Coal 57.1 58.1 144.5 216.6 149.8 123.4 91.8 46.2 55.7 69.5
Total 1,944.4 2,771.8 4,227.4 3,875.1 2,352.1 2,017.5 1,842.4 1,628.8 2,185.5 2,318.8

Mineral exploration by province and territory

In 2018, Ontario was the leading jurisdiction in terms of spending on mineral exploration, followed by Quebec and British Columbia. These three jurisdictions accounted for 62.6% of total exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures.

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by province and territory, 2017–2019 (si)

Canada's mineral production
Text version

The bar graphs superimposed on this map of Canada show the amount of exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures for each province and territory for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019. Each bar is subdivided into two segments: one for exploration and one for deposit appraisal. The top spending jurisdictions in 2018 were Ontario ($583 million), Quebec ($498 million) and British Columbia ($370 million).

Mineral exploration by company type

Two types of companies work in mineral exploration:

  • Senior companies normally derive recurring operating revenues from mining or other business segments. These are not necessarily mining companies.
  • Junior companies have no internally generated revenue (i.e., they do not have an operating mine) and rely mostly 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 mines 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 2018, junior mining companies spent $998 million on exploration and deposit appraisal activities, a 7% decrease over 2017. However, senior company expenditures increased 18.7% from 2017.

Exploration and deposit appraisal share of expenditures, by junior and senior companies, 2008–2019 (si)

Exploration and deposit appraisal share of expenditures, by junior and senior companies, 2008–2019
Text version

This bar graph shows the percentage distribution of exploration and deposit appraisal spending between junior and senior companies from 2009 to 2019 (spending intentions). Junior companies accounted for 57% of the expenditures in 2009 but only 43% in 2018. Refer to the table Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by junior and senior companies, 2009–2019 (si) for specific values by junior and senior companies for individual years.

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by junior and senior companies, 2009–2019 (si)
($ millions)
Company Type 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 (p) 2019 (si)
Senior companies 834 1,225 2,178 2,028 1,388 1,203 1,267 996 1,113 1,321 1,200
Junior 1,111 1,547 2,049 1,847 964 814 576 633 1,073 998 961
Total 1,944 2,772 4,227 3,875 2,352 2,017 1,842 1,629 2,186 2,319 2,161

Learn more about Canadian mineral exploration.

Canadian mining assets

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

In 2017, the total value of Canadian mining assets increased by 1.1% from last year, with the portion located outside of Canada increasing by 1.4%.

Key facts

  • Canadian mining assets totalled $260 billion in 2017
  • Canadian mining assets abroad totalled $163.9 billion in 2017
  • In 2017, assets located abroad accounted for 65% of total assets

Canada's presence abroad

In 2017, 70% of the value of Canadian mining assets abroad were in the Americas, where the value of assets increased 3.1% from the previous year. Africa experienced the greatest decline in percentage terms (-3.5%) in 2017. The overall value of Canada’s 2017 mining assets in Europe and Oceania declined by 3.2% and 2.4%, respectively, while values in Asia grew 1.8%.

In total, $168.7 billion in assets was located in 101 foreign countries in 2017. The top five countries were:

  • United States ($24.9 billion, +1.1%)
  • Mexico ($18.4 billion, +2.8%)
  • Chile ($17.9 billion, +3.6%)
  • Argentina ($13.2 billion, -8.1%)
  • Panama ($11.6 billion, +27.9%)
Share of Canadian mining assets abroad, by country, 2017
Ranking Country Percentage
1 United States 15%
2 Mexico 11%
3 Chile 11%
4 Argentina 8%
5 Panama 7%
6 Brazil 6%
7 Peru 6%
8 Zambia 5%
9 Dominican Republic 4%
10 China 2%
- Other 25%

Canadian mining assets, 2017 (p)

Canadian mining assets, 2017
Text version

This map of the world shows 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 $100 million to $1 billion). The asset values are listed for each continent and individually for Canada, the United States and Mexico. Refer to the table Canadian mining assets, by global region, 2016–2017 (p) for the specific values for each region.

Canadian mining assets, by global region, 2016–2017 (p)
Region 2016 ($ billions) 2017 (p) ($ billions) Variation ($ billions) Variation (%)
Africa 27.2 26.3 -1.0 -3.5
Americas (excluding Canada) 114.4 117.9 3.5 3.1
Asia 10.0 10.2 0.1 1.8
Europe 10.0 9.7 -0.3 -3.2
Oceania 4.7 4.6 -0.1 -2.4
Canadian mining assets abroad 166.4 168.7 2.3 1.4
Canada 90.8 91.4 0.6 0.7
Total Canadian mining assets 257.2 260.1 2.9 1.1

Learn more about the global presence of Canadian mining companies.

Indigenous participation

The Natural Resources Canada's Lands and Minerals Sector is committed to promoting Indigenous participation in mineral exploration and mining activities by sharing information to support informed decision-making that builds partnerships and promotes community capacity building.

Indigenous representation in the minerals sector has increased in the last decade, especially in the mining industry.

Key facts

  • More than 16,500 Indigenous people are employed in the minerals sector
  • Indigenous people account for 12% of the mining industry's labour force, making it the second-largest private sector employer on a participation basis
  • Since 2009, approximately 309 agreements between exploration and mining companies and Indigenous communities and governments have been signed.

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

Indigenous employment

In 2016, over 16,500 Indigenous people were employed in Canada's mining and mineral processing industries. Over half of the Indigenous employment was in the upstream mining subsector, where Indigenous people accounted for 12% of the industry's labour force, more than double the all-industry average representation of 4% and up from 8% in 2011.

Agreements between companies and Indigenous peoples

Agreements between mineral exploration and mining companies and Indigenous communities or governments have helped secure benefits for many Indigenous communities and businesses and improved certainty for exploration and mining companies.

More than 500 agreements (active and expired agreements at the exploration, development and post-development stages), for 340 exploration and mining projects, have been signed since 1974. Around 400 (417) of these agreements were still active in 2018. More than half of the active agreements are in Ontario and British Columbia. The number of exploration-stage agreements signed doubled between 2006 and 2018. Furthermore, there has been an overall increase in agreements for exploration, development and post-development stages, with:

  • 51 prior to 2000
  • 468 between 2000 and 2018

The increase is due to both a higher level of exploration and mining activity and a growing focus on building mutual understanding between Indigenous communities and the mining industry. However, for the past few years, there has been a steady decline in agreements for exploration, development and post-development stages with the reduced number of projects.

Number of agreements signed by exploration and mining companies and Indigenous communities or governments, 2000–2018

Number of agreements signed by exploration and mining companies and Indigenous communities or governments, 2000–2018
Text version

This bar graph shows the number of Indigenous exploration and mining agreements signed each year from 2000 to 2018 for exploration-stage and post-exploration-stage mining projects. It shows 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 2018, the rate of agreements signed decreased relative to previous years.

Distribution of active agreements signed by exploration and mining companies and Indigenous communities or governments, by province and territory, 2018

Distribution of active agreements signed by exploration and mining companies and Indigenous communities or governments, by province and territory, 2018
Text version

This map of Canada shows the percentage of all active agreements between exploration and mining companies and Indigenous communities or governments in each province and territory in 2018.

Active agreements signed by exploration and mining companies and Indigenous communities or governments, by province and territory, 2018
Province Agreements %
Ontario 135 32.4%
British Columbia 88 21.1%
Northwest Territories 38 9.1%
Saskatchewan 33 7.9%
Quebec 29 7.0%
Nunavut 27 6.5%
Yukon 25 6.0%
Newfoundland & Labrador 18 4.3%
Manitoba 11 2.6%
Alberta 6 1.4%
New Brunswick 4 1.0%
Nova Scotia 3 0.7%
Total 417 10%

Nominal GDP in the minerals sector

In 2018, the direct contribution of Canada's minerals sector to Canada's gross domestic product (GDP) was $72.4 billion, which represented 3.5% of Canada's total GDP. The indirect impacts from the minerals sector added a further $25.4 billion to GDP, for a total impact of $97.7 billion.

Minerals sector nominal gross domestic product, by subsector and product group, 2018

Text version

This circular chart shows the dollar value of direct gross domestic product by subsector of the minerals sector for 2018. 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 many in northern and remote locations.

In 2018, the minerals sector directly employed 409,000 individuals and indirectly employed an additional 217,000, for a total of 626,000 individuals.

At $119,000, 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, 2018

Minerals sector direct employment, by subsector and product group, 2018
Text version

This circular chart shows the number of direct jobs in the subsectors of the minerals sector. Stacked bars show a further breakdown by product group for 2018. Refer to the table Minerals sector employment, by subsector and product group, 2009–2018 for the specific values for each subsector and product.

 

Learn more about the employment in the minerals sector.

 

Employment by subsector, by product group and by year
Minerals sector employment, by subsector and product group, 2009–2018
(000 jobs)
Subsector/Commodity group 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018(p)
Metallic minerals 22 24 27 29 31 32 29 30 34 36
Non-metallic minerals 19 20 21 19 23 27 30 27 26 27
Coal 5 6 6 6 9 7 5 5 6 7
Total Extraction 46 50 54 55 62 67 65 62 67 70
Services 25 29 38 40 37 31 30 28 30 28
Primary metallic minerals products 49 52 56 51 51 48 43 43 43 43
Primary non-metallic minerals products 45 45 46 47 47 47 49 47 47 48
Total Primary manufacturing 94 97 101 98 98 94 92 91 90 91
Secondary metal products 23 25 27 25 27 26 26 24 25 27
Tertiary metal products 118 114 120 125 128 131 130 123 126 129
Miscellaneous metal products 29 32 35 35 36 35 40 40 40 40
Services and custom work 25 25 25 24 21 23 23 22 23 23
Total Downstream 194 195 207 209 212 215 218 209 213 220
Total Minerals Sector 360 372 400 401 410 407 405 390 399 409
Employment by industry and by year
Minerals sector employment, by industry, 2008–2018 (p)
(000 jobs)
Industry 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018(p)
Mining and quarrying (except oil and gas) 49 53 56 58 66 68 63 67 71 73
Mining-related support activities 19 22 30 33 27 22 22 20 22 23
Non-metallic mineral product manufacturing 52 54 53 54 54 51 55 53 52 47
Primary metal manufacturing 66 71 79 68 67 66 65 61 62 62
Fabricated metal product manufacturing 164 161 165 170 167 169 165 157 160 162
Total 350 361 384 384 381 377 370 358 367 368
Compensation per job, by industry and by year
Minerals sector average annual total compensation per job, by industry, 2008–2018 (p)
(dollars)
Industry 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018(p)
Mining and quarrying (except oil and gas) 101,293 102,208 106,762 114,766 113,607 120,190 122,183 118,918 121,195 124,814
Mining-related support activities 95,856 98,664 103,250 103,528 106,688 110,564 108,492 104,790 105,879 107,801
Non-metallic mineral product manufacturing 64,355 66,151 65,397 66,833 69,114 71,225 72,356 72,881 75,966 79,649
Primary metal manufacturing 89,252 90,476 89,949 96,036 99,419 98,849 102,172 103,984 108,987 113,026
Fabricated metal product manufacturing 62,099 61,436 63,407 66,478 69,450 71,326 72,016 70,198 70,104 74,039
Canadian all-industry average 50,650 51,279 53,092 54,811 56,243 58,017 59,175 58,562 59,846 61,662

Learn more about the employment in the minerals sector.

Financing

The Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV) 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 2018.

In 2018, nearly one-third ($6.5 billion) of the world's total equity capital for these activities was raised by companies listed on the TSX or TSXV, which also accounted for 49% 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.

TSX Accounting
Text version

This graphic shows the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and the TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV) as the world's primary listing venues for mining and mineral exploration companies. It also shows these exchanges as accounting for 49% of public exploration and mining companies, globally, and 34% of total financings, which raised $6.5 billion in 2018.

Government revenues

From 2013 to 2017, the mining and select manufacturing sectors (mining and quarrying, primary metal manufacturing and non-metallic mineral product manufacturing) paid an average of $2.1 billion in corporate income taxes and royalties annually. Mining taxes and royalties account for 65% 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 the fact 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 2018, Canada's mineral imports and exports, which include ores, concentrates, and semi- and final-fabricated mineral products, recorded a balance of trade of over $21.1 billion.

Canadian mineral trade, by trading partner, 2018
($ billions)
Trading partner Domestic exports
(excluding re-exports)
Total
exports
Total
imports
Balance
of trade
United States 54.6 57.4 41.2 16.2
EU-28 20.3 20.7 8.0 12.7
China 5.4 5.5 10.8 -5.3
Japan 4.6 4.6 1.7 2.9
South Korea 3.3 3.3 1.4 1.9
India 2.8 2.8 1.2 1.6
Norway 2.0 2.0 0.2 1.8
Mexico 1.4 1.4 4.6 -3.1
Brazil 1.2 1.2 3.3 -2.1
Taiwan 0.9 1.0 1.6 -0.6
Other countries 5.9 6.2 13.2 -7.0
Total for Canada 104.6 108.4 87.3 21.1

Exports

Valued at $104.6 billion in 2018, Canada's domestic mineral exports accounted for 19% of its total merchandise exports.

Text version

This graphic shows domestic mineral exports as accounting for 19% of total exports. It also shows Canada's main mineral export destinations: United States, 52% ($55 billion); European Union, 19% ($20 billion), and China, 5% ($5 billion).

Canadian domestic mineral exports, by commodity, 2009–2018
($ billions)
Commodity 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Gold 9.3 15.1 18.3 16.9 17.7 17.9 17.6 18.4 18.6 17.3
Iron and steel 9.7 11.9 12.6 12.8 12.1 13.7 13.6 12.9 14.9 16.5
Aluminum 7.6 9.2 9.9 8.6 8.7 9.8 10.5 10.7 12.7 13.0
Copper 4.0 5.2 6.4 5.9 6.1 7.0 6.9 6.1 7.2 7.6
Coal 5.0 6.2 8.3 6.6 5.8 4.5 3.8 4.7 7.1 7.9
Potash and potassium compounds 3.7 5.2 6.7 6.1 5.8 5.2 6.9 4.7 5.1 6.4
Nickel 3.4 5.0 6.7 5.2 4.7 5.4 5.4 4.2 3.8 4.2
Iron ore 3.4 3.2 4.2 4.2 4.6 4.4 3.6 3.8 4.6 5.3
Diamonds 1.8 2.6 2.6 2.2 2.1 2.6 2.4 2.0 2.6 2.9
Uranium and thorium 1.5 1.8 2.4 1.7 2.0 1.4 1.7 2.0 1.6 1.6
All other minerals 13.2 14.8 17.9 17.9 17.2 17.6 19.7 19.2 19.2 21.9
Total 62.7 80.2 95.9 88.1 86.9 89.6 92.0 88.6 97.5 104.6

Learn more about Canada's mineral imports and exports.

Minerals sector investment

In 2018, the minerals sector invested $13 billion in new capital construction and in machinery and equipment, accounting for 5% of the Canadian total.

Minerals sector investment
Text version

This graphic shows the minerals sector as accounting for 5% of non-residential capital investment in Canada, with investments of $13 billion in new capital construction (mining and related support activities, $10 billion; mineral processing, $3 billion).

Minerals sector capital expenditures, by industry, 2009–2019 (si)
($ billions)
Industry 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 (p) 2019 (si)
Mining and quarrying (except oil and gas) 6.2 9.1 12.2 16.9 15.1 11.1 10.2 9.6 8.1 9.0 9.8
Mining-related support activities 0.4 0.3 0.6 0.6 0.7 0.4 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.3
Non-metallic mineral product manufacturing 0.6 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 1.0 1.1 1.2 0.9 0.5 0.6
Primary metal manufacturing 0.9 1.8 2.9 3.9 3.5 3.3 3.2 2.3 1.5 2.0 2.1
Fabricated metal product manufacturing 0.8 0.6 0.7 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.7 0.7 0.9 0.8 0.9
Total 8.9 12.5 17.1 22.5 20.3 16.5 15.7 14.1 11.9 11.5 13.0

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

Major natural resource projects

In 2019, current and potential investment in major mining-related projects (e.g., mine constructions, redevelopments, expansions and processing facilities) over the next 10 years was estimated at $80 billion in capital expenditures, across 114 projects, compared with $72 billion and 108 projects in 2018.

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 minerals sector in clean and sustainable ways will ensure that it can continue to contribute to the Canadian economy for years to come.

Advanced green technologies

The Green Mining Initiative, led by Natural Resources Canada in close partnership with provincial/territorial governments, industry, academia, non-governmental organizations and other interested stakeholders, such as the Canada Mining Innovation Council, aims to improve the minerals sector's environmental performance and create green technology opportunities.

Learn more about Green Mining Innovation.

Minerals and metals in 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

Totals may be different because of rounding.

Mineral production

  • Canada's mineral production, global ranking
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada; U.S. Geological Survey;
      World Nuclear Association; Kimberley Process Rough Diamond Statistics
  • Mineral production, by commodity group, 2009–2018 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
  • Mineral production, by commodity group, 2009–2018 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
  • Mineral production, by commodity group, 2009–2018 (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 value for uranium is calculated using spot market prices
  • Mineral production, by province and territory, 2017 and 2018 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
  • Mineral production, by province and territory, 2009–2018 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada

Mineral exploration

  • Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures and metals and minerals price index, 1998–2019 (si)
    • Natural Resources Canada, based on the annual Survey of Exploration, Deposit Appraisal and Mine Complex Development Expenditures
    • Annual Bank of Canada commodity price index, Metals and Minerals
  • Exploration and deposit appraisal percentage of expenditures, by mineral commodity group, 2009 and 2018 (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" refers to non-ferrous 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, 2009–2019 (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" refers to non-ferrous 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, 2017–2019 (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 share of expenditures, by junior and senior companies, 2009–2019 (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, 2009–2019 (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, 2017 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • Canadian mining assets, 2017 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • Canadian mining assets, by global region, 2016–2017 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada
    • Canadian mining asset values are those reported in company financial reports, nearest to December 31, 2016, 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 by exploration and mining companies and Indigenous communities or governments, 2000–2018
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • Distribution of active agreements signed by exploration and mining companies and Indigenous communities or governments, by province and territory, 2018
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • The Indigenous representation and employment numbers presented in this section are from Statistics Canada's 2016 Census

Nominal GDP in the minerals sector

  • Minerals sector nominal gross domestic product, by subsector and product group, 2018
    • Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Satellite Account, Table 38-10-0285-01

Employment in Canada's minerals sector

  • Minerals sector direct employment, by subsector and product group, 2018
    • Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Satellite Account, annual average, Table 38-10-0285-01
  • Indirect jobs
    • Natural Resources Canada estimates, based on Statistics Canada data

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, 2018
    • 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, 2009–2018
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
  • Mineral trade includes 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, 2009–2019 (si)
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada, Table 34-10-0035-01

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