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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

Critical minerals

Canada is primed to capitalize on the rising global demand for critical minerals and materials that will power the clean energy transition and advanced manufacturing. Canada is a key global producer of copper, nickel and cobalt and hosts advanced mineral projects for rare earth elements, lithium, graphite and vanadium. Canada plans to leverage its strong environmental, social and good governance credentials, and mining prowess. The intent is to create competitive supply chains for critical minerals and value-added products, processes and technologies. The products, processes and technologies range from zero emission vehicles (including Li-ion batteries, permanent magnets and speciality alloys) to wind turbines and hydrogen fuel cells, to information and communication technologies (including semi-conductors).

For more information: Critical minerals

Greenhouse gas emissions and advanced green technologies

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.

Greenhouse gas emissions

Canadian mines have relatively low intensities of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across a range of commodities. Canada’s carbon competitiveness stems from a host of advantages, including access to clean energy sources and significant investments in research, development and adoption of green technologies. Canadian mines and processing facilities continue to invest to lower their emissions through electrification of equipment and vehicle fleets and through the development of new technologies. This includes mines in remote off-grid locations that have few alternative energy sources. Some of these remote sites have chosen to install wind turbines to reduce their dependency on diesel fuel.

Advanced green technologies

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

Learn more about green mining innovation.

Mineral production

Canada is the global leader in the production of potash and ranks among the top five global producers for diamonds, gemstones, gold, indium, niobium, platinum group metals, titanium concentrate and uranium.

Canada is also the world’s fourth-largest primary aluminum producer.

Key facts

  • Canada produced 60 minerals and metals at almost 200 mines and 6,500 sand, gravel and stone quarries.
  • The value of Canada's mineral production reached $43.8 billion in 2020.
  • Gold was the top-ranked commodity by value of production in Canada in 2020 with a value of $12.3 billion.
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This graphic shows the value of Canada's mineral production: metals, $28.5 billion; non-metals, $11.4 billion; coal, $3.9 billion. It also shows Canada's global ranking for potash (first), uranium (second) and platinum group metals (third).

Mineral production by commodity group

The 2020 value of Canadian mineral production was $43.9 billion, 8.1% lower than the 2019 value of $47.7 billion. Metals’ value of production decreased slightly by 1.4% from the previous year, while non-metals and coal declined 13.4% and 29.6%, respectively.

Mineral production, by commodity group, 2011–2020 (p)

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This bar graph shows the value of mineral production by commodity group for each year from 2011 to 2020 (p). See the table Mineral production, by commodity group, 2011–2020 (p) for the specific values for each region.

Mineral production, by commodity group, 2011–2020 (p)
($ millions)
Commodity group 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 (p)
Metals 25,994 23,558 23,497 24,225 23,126 23,299 25,485 27,059 28,924 28,516
Non-metals 16,253 14,850 13,858 14,086 14,830 12,121 13,304 15,531 13,173 11,396
Coal 7,471 5,881 4,887 3,897 3,126 4,009 6,281 6,459 5,625 3,958
Total 49,718 44,289 42,242 42,208 41,082 39,429 45,070 49,049 47,722 43,870

Canada's top five mineral products by value for 2020 were gold, iron ore, coal, copper and potash. Their combined value was $29.5 billion, accounting for two thirds of the total value of mineral production.

Leading minerals, by value of production, 2019 (p)

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This bar graph shows the leading minerals by value of production as a percentage of the total for 2019. The top three commodities were gold (28%), iron ore (13%) and coal (9%).

Canada's mineral production by province and territory

Minerals are produced in every province and territory. Four provinces, Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan, accounted for over three quarters of Canada's total value of mineral production in 2020.

Mineral production, by province and territory, 2020 and 2021 (p)

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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 2019 and 2020 (p). The top jurisdictions by value of mineral production in 2019 were Quebec ($11.6 billion), Ontario ($10.7 billion) and British Columbia ($7.3 billion).

Mineral production, by province and territory, 2010–2019 (p)
($ millions)
Province/territory 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 (p)
Newfoundland and Labrador 5,073 4,297 4,079 3,210 2,783 2,697 3,513 2,885 3,180 2,965
Prince Edward Island 3 4 4 4 5 6 5 3 3 3
Nova Scotia 197 193 188 168 192 206 248 416 479 507
New Brunswick 1,335 1,156 598 439 444 375 397 398 411 198
Quebec 8,095 7,695 7,733 8,112 7,204 7,797 8,923 10,423 11,466 11,649
Ontario 10,124 8,933 9,633 10,392 10,338 10,051 10,099 11,019 10,880 10,722
Manitoba 1,794 1,492 1,306 1,428 1,347 1,418 1,659 1,588 1,069 862
Saskatchewan 9,101 7,790 6,858 6,779 8,072 5,537 5,838 6,842 6,154 4,712
Alberta 2,347 2,361 2,278 2,246 2,108 2,321 1,930 2,357 2,003 1,409
British Columbia 8,717 7,543 6,812 6,503 5,882 6,424 8,996 9,783 8,841 7,295
Yukon 367 486 467 408 246 391 318 218 76 337
Northwest Territories 2,138 1,725 1,659 1,882 1,817 1,507 2,105 2,080 1,527 1,152
Nunavut 427 614 629 636 644 700 1,039 1,037 1,632 2,070
Total for Canada 49,718 44,289 42,244 42,207 41,082 39,430 45,070 49,049 47,723 43,880

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.

Thousands of firms in Canada are 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 – such as rail – because 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 2020 indicate that mining and mineral exploration companies spent $2.1 billion on exploration and deposit appraisal projects in Canada, compared with $2.3 billion in 2019.
  • 2021 expenditures are expected to increase significantly to $2.7 billion – an increase of about 30%, based on reported spending intentions.
  • Exploration and mining companies that have their headquarters in Canada accounted for the largest portion of worldwide non-ferrous exploration budgets, reaching 34% in 2020.
  • Canada was among the world's top destinations for non-ferrous mineral exploration in 2019, attracting 15.5% of global exploration budgets.

The amount spent on mineral exploration and on deposit appraisal activity depends largely on market conditions and commodity prices. Over the last decade, mineral and metal prices fluctuated significantly, reaching a cyclical peak in 2011 that was driven by rapid growth in China and other emerging market economies. Prices subsequently decreased as supply outpaced demand.

Prices began to recover later in 2016, a trend that continued into the last half of 2019, but shifted for most metals in early 2020 because of the economic lockdowns implemented in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic. Metal prices recovered later in 2020 as supply diminished and demand recovered.

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures and metals and minerals price index, 1998–2021 (si)

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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 2021. 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, Canada has commodities used in 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 ($1.4billion), which represents a 15% increase over the previous year and accounts for 65.3% of total spending in 2020.

Exploration and deposit appraisal percentage of expenditures, by mineral commodity group, 2011 and 2020 (p)

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This set of two circular charts shows exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures by mineral commodity group for 2011 and 2020. In 2011, precious metals accounted for 54% of spending, base metals 17% and uranium 5%. In 2020, precious metals accounted for 65% of the spending, base metals 19% and uranium 4%. See the table Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by mineral commodity group, 2011–2020 (p) for specific values by commodity group for individual years.

Exploration and deposit appraisal percentage of expenditures, by mineral commodity group, 2011 to 2021 (si)
($ millions)
Commodity group 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 (p) 2021 (i)
Precious metals 2,277.3 1,842.7 1,103.6 849.4 857.5 952.6 1,430.5 1,522.8 1,187.8 1,367.0 2,015.6
Base metals 734.1 633.0 419.3 420.0 382.0 236.7 322.2 376.6 400.2 400.0 501.9
Iron ore 307.0 358.6 130.7 69.1 28.1 22.5 9.1 18.4 20.8 31.6 22.8
Uranium 197.6 205.1 167.4 184.4 170.2 163.9 137.4 169.7 162.7 88.4 94.9
Diamonds 91.9 74.6 72.9 109.9 119.3 77.7 83.2 108.8 111.8 38.7 38.9
Other metals 260.8 230.9 191.9 125.3 68.7 48.0 89.0 140.7 69.7 35.4 86.8
Non-metals 214.2 313.6 116.5 136.0 124.8 81.2 58.4 78.6 58.9 33.1 41.2
Coal 144.5 216.6 149.8 123.4 91.8 46.2 55.7 69.5 75.3 97.1 74.6
Total 4,227.4 3,875.1 2,352.1 2,017.5 1,842.4 1,628.8 2,185.5 2,485.2 2,087.3 2,091.3 2,876.7

Mineral exploration by province and territory

In 2020, Ontario was the leading jurisdiction in terms of spending on mineral exploration, followed by Quebec and British Columbia. These three jurisdictions accounted for 74% of total exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures.

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by province and territory, 2019–2021 (si)

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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 2019, 2020 and 2021. Each bar is subdivided into two segments: one for exploration and one for deposit appraisal. The top spending jurisdictions in 2020 were Ontario ($569.6 million), Quebec ($511.2 million) and British Columbia ($457.4 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 2020, junior mining companies spent $1,029 million on exploration and deposit appraisal activities, a 7.5% increase over 2019. Senior company expenditures declined 20% from 2019.

Exploration and deposit appraisal share of expenditures, by junior and senior companies, 2011–2021 (si)

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This bar graph shows the percentage distribution of exploration and deposit appraisal spending for junior and senior companies from 2011 to 2021 (spending intentions). Junior businesses accounted for 48.5% of spending in 2011 and maintained nearly the same percentage at 49.2% in 2020. See the table Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by junior and senior companies, 2011–2021 (si) for specific values by junior and senior companies for individual years.

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, by junior and senior companies, 2011–2021 (si)
($ millions)
Company type 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 (p) 2021 (si)
Senior companies 2,178 2,028 1,388 1,203 1,267 996 1,109 1,364 1,329 1,062 1,495
Junior companies 2,049 1,847 964 814 576 633 1,076 1,121 957 1,029 1,381
Total 4,227 3,875 2,352 2,017 1,842 1,629 2,186 2,485 2,286 2,091 2,877

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 2019, the total value of Canadian mining assets decreased by 1% from the previous year, with the portion located in Canada decreasing by 7%. The decrease in Canada was due primarily to the acquisition of Goldcorp by U.S.-based Newmont Corporation. Outside of Canada, the value of Canadian mining assets increased by 2%.

Key facts

  • Canadian mining assets totalled $263.2 billion in 2019.
  • Canadian mining assets abroad totalled $177.8 billion in 2019.
  • In 2019, assets located abroad accounted for 67.5% of total assets.

Canada's presence abroad

In 2019, 67% of the value of Canadian mining assets abroad were in the Americas, where the value of assets decreased 5% from the previous year. Oceania experienced the greatest decline in percentage terms (-11.6%) in 2019. The value of Canada’s 2019 mining assets in Africa increased by 44% because of the acquisition by Barrick Gold of U.S-based Randgold Resources, which owned several mines in Africa. In total, $178 billion in assets was located in almost 100 foreign countries in 2019. The top 10 countries are presented in the following table.

Share of Canadian mining assets abroad, by country, 2019
Ranking Country Percentage
1 United States 20.3%
2 Chile 10.4%
3 Panama 9.0%
4 Brazil 6.2%
5 Zambia 5.7%
6 Peru 5.3%
7 Mexico 4.5%
8 Argentina 4.4%
9 Mali 4.4%
10 Democratic Republic of the Congo 3.4%

Canadian mining assets, 2019 (p)

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The countries on this map of the world are colour-coded to indicate a range of values for Canadian mining assets. For example, 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. See the table Canadian mining assets, by global region, 2016–2017 (p) for the specific values for each region.

Canadian mining assets, by global region, 2018–2019
Region 2018 2019 (p) Change Change (%)
($ billions)
Africa 26.2 37.8 11.6 44.2%
Americas (except Canada) 125.0 118.7 -6.3 -5.0%
Asia 8.8 8.6 -0.2 -2.4%
Europe 10.0 9.0 -1.0 -10.2%
Oceania 4.3 3.8 -0.6 -13.0%
Canadian mining assets abroad 174.3 177.8 3.5 2.0%
Canada 91.6 85.6 -6.0 -6.6%
Total Canadian mining assets 266.0 263.2 -2.5 -1.0%

Learn more about the global presence of Canadian mining companies.

Indigenous participation

NRCan’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 and metals sector.
  • Indigenous people account for 12% of the upstream mining industry's labour force, making it the second-largest private sector employer on a participation basis.
  • Since 2000, over 500 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. Fostering the relationship between industry and Indigenous businesses builds the capacity for Indigenous businesses to capitalize on economic opportunities happening in or near their communities. It also allows industry to create reliable, local supply chains and the social licence to operate in a community.

More than 571 agreements (active and expired agreements at the exploration, development and post-development stages) for 379 exploration and mining projects, have been signed since 1974. Approximately 412 of these agreements were still active in 2020. More than half of the active agreements are in Ontario (137) and British Columbia (93). Between 2006 and 2019, the number of exploration-stage agreements that were signed doubled. Furthermore, there has been an increase in agreements for exploration, development and post-development stages:

  • 51 prior to 2000
  • 501 between 2000 and 2020

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 have been fewer agreements for exploration, development and post-development stages with the reduced number of projects.

Agreements signed by exploration and mining companies and Indigenous communities or governments, 2000–2019

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This bar graph shows the number of agreements signed each year from 2000 to 2019 for exploration-stage and post-exploration-stage mining projects. It shows an increase in the number of agreements from 2000 to 2012. The number of agreements signed subsequently declined until 2018. In 2019, the number of agreements increased to 21, including 8 at the exploration stage and 13 at the post exploration stage. In 2020, the number of agreements signed decreased to 9, including 5 at the exploration stage and 4 at the post-exploration stage.

Distribution of active agreements signed by exploration and mining companies and Indigenous communities or governments, by province and territory, 2020

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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 2020.

Active agreements signed by exploration and mining companies and Indigenous communities or governments, by province and territory, 2020
Province Agreements %
Ontario 137 33.3%
British Columbia 93 22.6%
Northwest Territories 34 8.3%
Saskatchewan 30 7.3%
Quebec 31 7.5%
Nunavut 23 5.6%
Yukon 21 5.1%
Newfoundland & Labrador 18 4.4%
Manitoba 11 2.7%
Alberta 6 1.5%
New Brunswick 4 1.0%
Nova Scotia 4 1.0%
Total 412 100.0%

Nominal GDP in the minerals sector

In 2020, the direct contribution of Canada's minerals and metals sector to Canada's gross domestic product (GDP) was $70 billion, which represented 3% of Canada's total GDP. The indirect effects from the minerals and metals sector added a further $37 billion to the GDP, for a total contribution of $107 billion.

Minerals sector contribution to Canada’s gross domestic product, 2020

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This chart shows the direct and indirect contribution of the minerals and metals sector to Canada's gross domestic product (GDP) accounted for 5% of the total in 2020. Indirect GDP for the minerals sector was $37 billion, while direct was $70 billion. The direct value is further subdivided between mining and related support activities with $33 billion and minerals processing with $37 billion.

Minerals sector nominal gross domestic product, by subsector and product group, 2020

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This chart shows the dollar value of direct GDP by subsector of the minerals sector for 2020. Stacked bars show a further breakdown by product group. Mining accounts for 48% of the values, followed by downstream manufacturing with 30% and primary processing with 22%.

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 2020, the minerals and metals sector directly employed 377,000 individuals and indirectly employed an additional 315,000, for a total of 692,000 individuals.

At $127,300, the average annual total compensation per job in the mining industry is twice the all-industry average of $68,759.

Minerals sector direct employment, by subsector and product group, 2020

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This chart shows the number of direct jobs in the subsectors of the minerals sector. Stacked bars show a further breakdown by product group for 2020. See the table Minerals sector employment, by subsector and product group, 2011–2020 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, 2011–2020
(thousand jobs)
Subsector/Commodity group 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 20019 2020 (p)
Metallic minerals 29 29 37 36 32 36 36 40 40 41
Non-metallic minerals 19 17 21 21 22 22 23 25 26 24
Coal 7 7 9 7 6 7 7 8 9 8
Total Extraction 54 54 67 65 60 65 67 72 75 74
Services 38 41 37 31 29 28 30 31 31 24
Primary metallic minerals products 55 51 50 47 44 43 42 42 41 42
Primary non-metallic minerals products 45 46 46 46 49 46 46 41 41 42
Total Primary manufacturing 100 97 97 93 93 88 88 83 83 84
Secondary metal products 27 25 26 26 26 22 24 24 24 21
Tertiary metal products 119 124 127 131 129 121 122 124 127 124
Miscellaneous metal products 35 34 36 34 39 37 35 34 34 31
Services and custom work 25 24 21 23 23 22 23 23 24 20
Total downstream manufacturing 205 207 210 215 217 202 204 205 209 196
Total minerals sector 399 400 412 403 399 382 390 388 392 377
Employment by industry and by year
Minerals sector employment, by industry, 2010–2019 (p)
(000 jobs)
Industry 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 (p)
Mining and quarrying (except oil and gas) 54 56 56 70 69 63 68 70 79 77
Mining-related support activities 22 30 33 29 23 21 21 22 19 22
Non-metallic mineral product manufacturing 52 52 53 53 51 54 52 52 53 55
Primary metal manufacturing 68 74 65 65 64 64 62 63 64 63
Fabricated metal product manufacturing 153 160 162 164 168 162 161 160 169 174
Total minerals sector 348 371 368 381 373 364 364 367 385 391
Compensation per job, by industry and by year
Minerals sector average annual total compensation per job, by industry, 2010–2019 (p)
(dollars)
Industry 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 (p)
Mining and quarrying (except oil and gas) 110,548 117,767 114,200 119,507 122,453 121,012 121,055 125,921 126,830 127,353
Mining-related support activities 101,941 105,264 106,377 109,494 109,758 104,695 109,032 111,698 109,813 110,201
Non-metallic mineral product manufacturing 65,734 67,327 69,296 72,064 74,042 73,836 74,347 78,457 79,317 85,279
Primary metal manufacturing 93,652 100,038 102,503 102,579 103,465 102,721 106,830 110,868 112,421 112,162
Fabricated metal product manufacturing 64,553 68,481 69,283 71,910 73,402 71,185 71,438 74,064 75,923 81,175
Canadian all-industry average 53,119 54,842 56,277 58,054 59,195 58,558 59,786 62,012 63,539 68,759

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 1,160 issuers in 2020, accounting for 43% of global listings.

In 2020, over a third ($7.5 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.

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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 that these exchanges account for 48% of public exploration and mining companies, globally, and 48% of the financings, which raised 56% of the capital in 2019.

Government revenues

From 2015 to 2019, the mining and select manufacturing sectors (mining and quarrying, primary metal manufacturing and non-metallic mineral product manufacturing) paid an average of $2.4 billion in corporate income taxes and royalties annually. Mining taxes and royalties account for 63% of that amount, while the remainder is paid in the form of corporate income taxes to the federal, provincial and territorial governments.

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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 2020, Canada's mineral imports and exports, which include ores, concentrates, and semi- and final-fabricated mineral products, recorded a balance of trade of over $15.7 billion.

Canadian mineral trade, by trading partner, 2020
($ billions)
Trading partner Domestic exports
(excluding re-exports)
Total
exports
Total
imports
Balance
of trade
United States 52.1 54.6 41.0 13.5
United Kingdom 16.1 16.2 1.5 14.8
China 6.5 6.6 9.8 -3.2
Japan 3.6 3.6 1.5 2.1
Germany 2.6 3.0 2.2 0.8
South Korea 2.8 2.8 1.3 1.4
Netherlands 1.9 2.4 0.4 2.0
India 2.1 2.1 1.2 0.9
Norway 2.1 2.1 0.1 2.0
Belgium 1.3 1.3 0.5 0.8
Other countries 11.7 12.1 31.6 -19.4
Total for Canada 102.6 106.8 91.1 15.7

Exports

Valued at $102.6 billion in 2020, domestic mineral exports accounted for 21% of Canada's total merchandise exports.

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This graphic shows that domestic mineral exports account for 21% of total exports. It also shows Canada's main mineral export destinations as the United States, 51% ($52.1 billion); the United Kingdom, 15.7% ($16.1 billion), and China, 6.3% ($6.5 billion).

Canadian domestic mineral exports, by commodity, 2010–2019
($ billions)
Commodity 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 (p)
Gold 18.3 16.9 17.7 17.9 17.6 18.4 18.6 17.3 22.3 23.6
Iron and steel 12.6 12.8 12.1 13.7 13.6 12.9 14.9 16.4 14.5 13.1
Aluminum 9.9 8.6 8.7 9.8 10.5 10.7 12.7 13.0 11.0 11.2
Iron ore 4.2 4.2 4.6 4.4 3.6 3.8 4.6 5.3 6.6 7.6
Copper 6.4 5.9 6.1 7.0 6.9 6.2 7.2 7.6 7.0 7.3
Potash and potassium compounds 6.7 6.1 5.8 5.2 6.9 4.7 5.1 6.4 6.6 6.1
Coal 8.3 6.6 5.8 4.5 3.8 4.7 7.1 7.9 7.5 4.9
Nickel 6.7 5.2 4.7 5.4 5.4 4.2 3.8 4.2 4.1 3.9
Platinum group metals 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.6 1.2 1.2 0.8 1.2 1.6 2.7
Zinc 1.7 1.5 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 2.1 2.6 2.3 2.0
All other minerals 20.9 20.0 19.3 19.4 20.8 20.1 20.5 22.4 22.6 20.3
Grand Total 95.9 88.1 86.9 89.6 92.0 88.7 97.4 104.3 106.0 102.6

Learn more about Canada's mineral imports and exports.

Minerals sector investment

In 2020, the minerals sector invested $12.6 billion in new capital construction and in machinery and equipment, accounting for 5% of the Canadian total.

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This graphic shows the minerals sector accounts for 5% of non-residential capital investment in Canada, with investments of $12 billion in new capital construction (mining and related support activities, $9 billion; mineral processing, $3 billion).

Minerals sector capital expenditures, by industry, 2010–2020 (si)
($ billions)
Industry 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 (p) 2021 (si)
Mining and quarrying (except oil and gas) 12.2 16.9 15.1 11.1 10.2 9.6 9.0 10.0 10.9 8.6 9.5
Mining-related support activities 0.6 0.6 0.7 0.4 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.2
Non-metallic mineral product manufacturing 0.7 0.6 0.5 1.0 1.1 1.2 0.9 0.6 0.7 0.6 0.6
Primary metal manufacturing 2.9 3.9 3.5 3.3 3.2 2.3 1.5 1.8 2.3 1.6 1.5
Fabricated metal product manufacturing 0.7 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.7 0.7 0.9 0.9 1.1 0.9 0.7
Total 17.1 22.5 20.3 16.5 15.7 14.1 12.5 13.6 15.2 12.0 12.6

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

Major natural resource projects

In 2020, 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 $82 billion in capital expenditures, across 120 projects, compared with $80 billion and 114 projects in 2019.

Learn more about major natural resource projects that are planned and under construction over the next 10 years.

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, 2011–2020 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
  • Leading minerals, by value of production, 2019 (p)
    • Natural Resource Canada; Statistics Canada
  • Mineral production, by province and territory, 2020 and 2021 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
  • Mineral production, by province and territory, 2011–2020 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada

Mineral exploration

  • Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures and metals and minerals price index, 1998–2021 (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, 2011 and 2020 (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, 2011–2021 (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, 2019–2021 (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, fieldwork, 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, 2011–2021 (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, 2011–2021 (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, 2019 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • Canadian mining assets, 2019 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • Canadian mining assets, by global region, 2018–2019 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada
    • Canadian mining asset values are those reported in company financial reports, nearest to December 31, 2019, 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, 2000–2020
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • Distribution of active agreements signed by exploration and mining companies and Indigenous communities or governments, by province and territory, 2020
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • The Indigenous representation and employment numbers presented in this section are from Statistics Canada's 2016 Census.
  • Active agreements signed by exploration and mining companies and Indigenous communities or governments, by province and territory, 2020
    • Natural Resources Canada

Nominal GDP in the minerals sector

  • Minerals sector nominal gross domestic product, by subsector and product group, 2020
    • 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, 2020
    • Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Satellite Account, annual average, Table 38-10-0285-01
  • Indirect jobs
    • Estimated by Statistics Canada

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, 2020
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
  • Exports key facts
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
  • Canadian domestic mineral exports, by commodity, 2011–2020
    • 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, 2011–2021 (si)
    • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada, Table 34-10-0035-01

Minerals and metals sector

The minerals and metals sector (or 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 – non-metallic 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 because some entities service multiple sectors (e.g. transportation, construction, finance and legal).
The GDP 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 and metals sector includes activities involved in:

  • Extracting and initial processing of mineral products (also referred to as primary production):
    • Extraction of coal, metallic minerals (e.g. copper, gold, lead, nickel, silver and zinc), and non-metallic minerals (e.g. diamonds, potash, salt and stone)
    • 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, ferro-alloy products, and refined precious and base metals)
    • Primary non-metallic 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)

For more information on the NRSA, consult Statistics Canada, The Natural Resources Satellite Account: Feasibility Study.

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