Canada is a mining nation.
From the Rockies to the Canadian Shield, and from the Plains and to the North, the variety of geology that exists in the country is immense – and this has created a large and unique opportunity for groundbreaking mineral discoveries.
As a result, Canada is one of the world’s largest exporters of minerals and metals, supplying approximately 60 different mineral commodities to over 100 countries.
An Intro to Canadian Mining
Today’s infographic comes to us from Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan and it highlights an industry that has given Canada a competitive advantage in the global economy.
The mineral sector brings jobs, investment, and business to Canada.
This impact stems from the whole lifecycle of mining, including exploration, extraction, primary processing, design, and manufacturing processes.
Last year, the minerals sector contributed $72 billion to Canada’s GDP.
Here are the major minerals produced in Canada in 2017, along with their dollar value:
|Rank||Mineral||Value (2017)||Production (2017)|
|#5||Iron Ore||$3,800,000,000||49,009,000 tonnes|
According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, more non-ferrous mineral exploration dollars come to Canada than to any other country. In 2017, roughly $1.1 billion – or about 14% of global exploration spending – was allocated to Canada, which edged out Australia for the top spot globally.
Mining and Communities
From mining in remote communities to the legal and financial activities in urban centers such as Vancouver or Toronto, mining touches all Canadian communities.
According to a study commissioned by the Ontario Mining Association, the economic impact of one new gold mine in Ontario can create ~4,000 jobs during construction and production, and can contribute $38 to $43 million to the economy once operating.
Further, more than 16,500 Indigenous peoples were employed in the mineral sector in 2016, accounting for 11.6% of the mining industry labor force, making it the second largest private sector employee.
Innovation Drives Canadian Mining
Canada has an established network of academic thinkers, business associations, financial capital, and government programs that support and promote new technologies that can help set a standard for mining worldwide.
Here are a few examples of innovation at work:
- CanmetMINING is currently researching the implementation of hydrogen power to replace the use of diesel fuel in operating underground mines. Once this technology adopted, it could reduce the GHG emission footprint of underground mines by 25% and improve the health of workers in mines by reducing their exposure to diesel exhaust.
- New technology is turning what was once mine waste into a potential source for minerals. In the past three decades, six billion tonnes of mine tailings have accumulated with a potential value of US$10 billion. Reprocessing this waste can produce significant recoveries of rare earth elements, gold, nickel, cobalt and other valuable minerals.
- Artificial intelligence and new remote-control technology can be deployed to operate mining equipment and find new discoveries.
All these innovations are going to change the nature of working in mines, while creating high-paid jobs and demand for an educated labor force.
Opportunity for Future Generations
A large number of Canadian miners are expected to retire over the next decade. In fact, Canada’s Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR) forecasts 87,830 workers at a minimum will have to be hired over the next ten years.
With game-changing technologies on the horizon, there will be plenty of opportunities for a new generation of high-tech miners. The future bodes well for Canadian mining.
The Critical Minerals to China, EU, and U.S. National Security
Ten materials, including cobalt, lithium, graphite, and rare earths, are deemed critical by all three.
The Critical Minerals to China, EU, and U.S. Security
Governments formulate lists of critical minerals according to their industrial requirements and strategic evaluations of supply risks.
Over the last decade, minerals like nickel, copper, and lithium have been on these lists and deemed essential for clean technologies like EV batteries and solar and wind power.
What are Critical Minerals?
There is no universally accepted definition of critical minerals. Countries and regions maintain lists that mirror current technology requirements and supply and demand dynamics, among other factors.
These lists are also constantly changing. For example, the EU’s first critical minerals list in 2011 featured only 14 raw materials. In contrast, the 2023 version identified 34 raw materials as critical.
One thing countries share, however, is the concern that a lack of minerals could slow down the energy transition.
With most countries committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the total mineral demand from clean energy technologies is expected to double by 2040.
U.S. and EU Seek to Reduce Import Reliance on Critical Minerals
Ten materials feature on critical material lists of both the U.S., the EU, and China, including cobalt, lithium, graphite, and rare earths.
|Mineral / Considered Critical||🇺🇸 U.S.||🇪🇺 EU||🇨🇳 China|
Despite having most of the same materials found in the U.S. or China’s list, the European list is the only one to include phosphate rock. The region has limited phosphate resources (only produced in Finland) and largely depends on imports of the material essential for manufacturing fertilizers.
Coking coal is also only on the EU list. The material is used in the manufacture of pig iron and steel. Production is currently dominated by China (58%), followed by Australia (17%), Russia (7%), and the U.S. (7%).
The U.S. has also sought to reduce its reliance on imports. Today, the country is 100% import-dependent on manganese and graphite and 76% on cobalt.
After decades of sourcing materials from other countries, the U.S. local production of raw materials has become extremely limited. For instance, there is only one operating nickel mine (primary) in the country, the Eagle Mine in Michigan. Likewise, the country only hosts one lithium source in Nevada, the Silver Peak Mine.
Despite being the world’s biggest carbon polluter, China is the largest producer of most of the world’s critical minerals for the green revolution.
China produces 60% of all rare earth elements used as components in high-technology devices, including smartphones and computers. The country also has a 13% share of the lithium production market. In addition, it refines around 35% of the world’s nickel, 58% of lithium, and 70% of cobalt.
Among some of the unique materials on China’s list is gold. Although gold is used on a smaller scale in technology, China has sought gold for economic and geopolitical factors, mainly to diversify its foreign exchange reserves, which rely heavily on the U.S. dollar.
Analysts estimate China has bought a record 400 tonnes of gold in recent years.
China has also slated uranium as a critical mineral. The Chinese government has stated it intends to become self-sufficient in nuclear power plant capacity and fuel production for those plants.
According to the World Nuclear Association, China aims to produce one-third of its uranium domestically.
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