Canadian Mining Facrs Essay, Research Paper
Canadian Mining Facts
In 1997, Canadian mining was hard hit by the current metal downturn that
began with a dramatic drop in the price of gold. However, despite a
larger-than-expected number of mine closings, the year ended with 21 mine
openings (11 mines and 10 re-openings) and 20 mine closings (9 suspensions and 11 closures). Overall, Canadian mines incurred a substantial net gain of some 31 485 t of daily ore production capacity and some 25 mining jobs in 1997 through mine openings and closings. In 1997, the mining and mineral processing industries directly employed 368 000 Canadians. Of these, 64 000 were employed in mining, 68 000 in smelting and refining, and 236 000 in the manufacture of mineral and metal products. In 1997 Canada’s coal mining industry provided about 9000 direct jobs. Average weekly earnings in the mining, quarries and oil wells industry in 1997 were $1057, one of the highest levels of any industry in the Canadian economy. Average weekly earnings in the mining industry itself were $1036. In 1990, the mining industry required roughly 4.2 employees to generate $1 million of production. In the smelting and refining industry the number was 4.1. Across the Canadian economy in general, 9.2 employees were necessary to generate $1 million of production.
In 1996, 3 193 617 m of surface exploration drilling were carried out in Canada, up by 21% from the 2 641 649 m drilled in 1995. Diamond drilling
(3 040 573 m) constituted 95% of the total metres of surface drilling. Quebec, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, in decreasing order of importance, were the busiest provinces and territories jointly
accounting for 70% of total surface drilling activity. Underground exploration drilling (both diamond drilling and other types of underground exploration drilling) totalled 872 978 m, up by 38% from the 631 648 m drilled in 1995. Ontario (326 331 m), Quebec (265 908 m), British Columbia (92 224) and Manitoba (86 217 m) together accounted for 88% of total underground exploration drilling. In 1996, 629 companies (excluding prospectors) operated Canadian non-petroleum mineral exploration projects, down from 663 companies in 1995. Overall, exploration expenditures in 1996, which include both general and mine-site expenditures, totalled $895 million, up from $718 million in 1995. General exploration expenditures totalled $795 million in 1996, an increase of 26% from $631 million in 1995. The amount spent on mine-site exploration in 1996 was $100 million, up by 15% from $86 million in 1995. Mine-site exploration expenditures normally represent between 12% and 15% of overall exploration expenditures (the total of general and minesite exploration). Junior and senior companies both contributed strongly to the 1997 performance. Junior companies spent an estimated $298 million, or 37 percent, of total expenditures. In 1996, $351 million was spent in the search for precious metals; $295 million for base metals; $154 million for diamonds; $36 million for other metals; $31 million for uranium; $14 million for coal and $14 million for other minerals. In 1997, Canada ranked second in the world in terms of exploration investment, ahead of all other countries except Australia. (Former Soviet
Union countries are excluded.) In 1996, companies spent $139 million on diamond exploration in the Northwest Territories, which amounts to 90% of the total $154 million spent on this commodity in all of Canada. Some $5 million (3%) of this total was spent in each Ontario and Saskatchewan and $3 million (2%) in Quebec. The remaining $2 million was spent in Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia and Newfoundland (Labrador). The first diamond mine at Lac de Gras, the Ekati Diamond Mine, is scheduled to start producing late in 1998. Expenditures dedicated to diamond exploration for each of the years from 1993 to 1998 have accounted for between 15% and 20% of total Canadian exploration expenditures. By the end of this six-year period, a total of $744 million will have been spent on diamond exploration, including $154 million in 1996, and estimated totals of $93 million for 1997 and $125 million for 1998. In 1996, 49 companies (39 juniors and 10 seniors) were operators of diamond exploration projects, down from the 61 operators reported in 1995. Even though the number was lower, project operators spent a total of $154 million in 1996, up slightly from the $147 million spent in the previous year. The $804 million spent in 1997 represents the second highest level of exploration spending in Canada in the 1990s. With spending of $895 million, the year1996 retains the record for this decade. Preliminary figures show that mineral exploration spending in 1997 totalled $804 million. Of this amount, $644 million was attributable to the location and first delineation of new deposits (grass-roots exploration) with $160 million to the acquisition of more information on the delineated deposits (deposit appraisal). The mining industry is a vital contributor to the Canadian economy. In 1997, the mining and mineral processing industries contributed $26.2 billion to the Canadian economy, an amount equal to 3.8% of the national Gross Domestic Product.
In 1993, for each dollar of non-petroleum mineral production, the mineral
industry invested 21 cents at mine sites; of this amount, roughly 11 cents was
for repairs, 5 cents for development, 3 cents for machinery and equipment,
and 1 cent for structures. Over the decade ending in 1997, labour productivity in the mining industry increased by 8% and in the smelting and refining industry by more than 51%. The area of new mineral claims staked in Canada in 1997 was 44 million hectares (ha), 232% more than the area staked in 1996. This constitutes the biggest area ever staked surpassing the 33 million ha and the 27 million ha staked during 1992 and 1993 respectively, following major diamond discoveries. In 1997, five Canadian provinces produced 78 million tonnes of coal valued at $1.9 billion. In 1997 more than 60% of the value of Canadian non-fuel minerals were produced by Ontario (29%), Quebec (17%) and British Columbia (16%). Producing mines are found in all provinces and territories except Prince Edward Island. In 1997, the western provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia produced 76 million tonnes of coal, about 97% of the Canadian total. Western Canada’s coal production was worth $1.8 billion. In 1997, there were some 300 metal, nonmetal and coal mines and some 3000 stone quarries and sand and gravel pits operating in Canada. There were also some 50 nonferrous smelters, refineries and steel mills. The value of minerals (including coal, petroleum and gas) produced in Canada reached $49.8 billion in 1997. Excluding petroleum and natural gas, the value was about $19.0 billion. Canada’s per capita mineral production amounted to $1646 in 1997; excluding petroleum and natural gas, the value was $629 per capita. Canada is a leading producer of primary aluminum from imported bauxite
and alumina, producing about 2.3 million tonnes in 1997. In 1996, Canada led the world in the production of potash, uranium, zinc and cadmium, placed second in the world in the production of nickel, elemental sulphur and asbestos, was the third largest producer of aluminum, salt, platinum group metals, titanium concentrate, copper and gypsum, and the fourth largest producer of cobalt, gold, lead and molybdenum. The four most important metals in terms of 1997 Canadian production value were gold ($2.50 billion), copper ($2.07 billion), zinc ($1.88 billion) and nikel ($1.77 billion). Mine openings in 1997 are expected to contribute significantly to the total mineral and metal production in Canada. At full capacity, production from
new and re-opened mines in 1997 is expected to be some 22 t (710 000 oz ) of gold, 85.6 t (2.75 Moz) of silver, 53 000 t of copper, 21 000 t of nickel, 132 000 t of zinc, 35 000 of lead, 4 000 t of antimony, 670 t of molybdenum, 330 t of cobalt, 50 000 t of wollastonite and 1.5 Mt of salt anuually. Potash is the most important commodity in the nonmetals category. Canadian potash shipments in 1997 totalled 9.3 million tonnes valued at $1.47 billion. Canadian reserves of gold, molybdenum and copper in ores increased during 1996. Gold reserves were higher than at any time since the peak year of 1988. There were at least 99 precious-metal deposits undergoing appraisal in Canada in early 1997, up from 84 in early 1996. There were more than 1724 tonnes of gold contained in Canadian mine reserves in December 1996. This represents an increase of more than 12% from December 1995, and continues the upward trend that began in 1994. In early 1997, 60% of all deposits actively being appraised were precious-metal deposits. At the end of 1997, companies of all sizes listed on Canadian stock exchanges held more than 4600 mineral properties in Canada, about 7% less than in 1996, but about the same number as they held in the early 1990s. In 1996, mining companies listed on Canadian stock exchanges raised over $6 billion in equity financing. As a result, the number of Canadian- based companies that planned to spend more than $4 million on exploration around the world grew to 141 during 1997, up from 94 in 1996 and only 55 in 1995. In 1995, metal and other mining companies intended to spend more than $80 million on research and development (R&D), slightly less than 1% of company sales. When services related to mining and crude petroleum and natural gas industries are included, the expenditure level rises to $145 million. Canada accounts for about 40% of world trade in sulphur.
Increases in Canadian trade over the last three years have been the most
significant factor in the creation of jobs for Canadians. The minerals industry
has been, and continues to be, an important contributor to this – exports in
the minerals industry increased 28% from 1994 to 1997 from $35 billion in
1994 to over $44 billion in 1997. Canada is the world’s fourth largest coal exporter. In 1997, Canada exported more than 36 million tonnes of coal (46% of Canada’s total production) valued at approximately $2.7 billion.
Can one of the world’s largest exporter of minerals and mineral
products. In 1997, minerals and mineral products provided 15.9% of
Canada’s total exports and contributed $7.1 billion to the Canadian trade
Some 80% of Canada’s mineral and metal production is exported.
The transportation of mineral products is vital to Canadian railways,
providing 55% of total revenue in freight in 1996.
Some 61% of the volume of all products loaded at Canadian ports in
international trade in 1996 was mineral-related products.
The Canadian mining industry is a world leader in environmentally safe and
clean mining practices.
Canada is a world leader in mining technology. Mining companies spend
over $100 million annually in Canada on research and development. Over
85% of the work force uses advanced technology, including electronics,
advanced materials, expert systems, and telecommunications.
For every job created in the mining industry, more than one other job is
indirectly created in the Canadian economy.
Mining is the mainstay of employment in over 128 communities, mostly in
rural and remote areas of Canada.
As the face of mining has changed, so have the faces of those it employs.
The old image of miners and prospectors with picks and shovels has been
replaced by workers using robotics, computers and the most modern
high-tech equipment. Women today are employed as mining engineers,
equipment operators, technicians, environmental specialists and geologists.
They work underground and in laboratories, smelters, exploration sites and
head offices. 1998, in fact, is the 77th anniversary of the Women’s
Association of Mining in Canada.
Excluding the petrochemical industry, the Canadian industrial sector,
including manufacturing, forestry, construction and mining, accounts for
approximately 35% of total end use energy demand. The mining industry
itself accounts for about 13% of Canadian industrial energy demand.
Base metals (principally zinc, copper, lead and nickel) and precious metals
(gold, silver and the platinum group metals) are the principal targets for
For generations, couples have been saying it with diamonds, making the
ultimate commitment with gold and sealing it all with a kiss. As the world’s
fourth leading producer of gold, Canada’s mining industry is frequently an
honoured guest at the traditional exchange of gold wedding bands. Indeed,
our role in the romance of others may be on the rise. The amount spent on
exploration for diamonds has increased to more than $100 million a year,
and Canada may soon be a leading international diamond producer.
Less than 0.03% of Canada’s land area has been used for mining since metal
mining began more than 150 years ago. This intensive use of a small land
area produces all of the mineral materials we use every day. Today mining
represents a temporary land use, disrupting relatively small areas of land for
a specific (usually short) period of time. Once the ore deposit is depleted,
the land is reclaimed for other uses, including recreation.
Out of a total land area of 2.49 billion acres, less than 1 million acres (an
area less than half the size of Prince Edward Island) are used for mining for
Remove mining’s contribution to your home and about the only thing you’d
have left is the mortgage. Even building a home would be impossible without
the saw, hammer and nails made possible by mining.
The principal components of your home’s foundation are all minerals,
including limestone, sand and gravel. Clays are used to manufacture bricks
and tiles. Copper pipes carry water throughout the home. Gypsum is used in
drywall. Barium, manganese, titanium pigments and talc are found in paint.
Linoleum contains calcium carbonate while lime is found in carpets.
Windows contain silica. And as the world’s third leading producer of copper
– some $2.0 billion in 1996 – we help to put a lot of roofs over a lot of
Beach-lovers around the world can thank Canada for providing them with
the protection they need from the sun’s rays. We are the world’s largest
producer of zinc, an essential ingredient in sunscreen. Zinc is used to
galvanize beach chairs to protect them from rust. And if those beach-goers
like the photographs they snapped during their vacation in the sun, they
should thank us a second time. We’re a leading producer of silver, a major
component in developing and printing pictures.
Mining is a rich vein running through the lives of all Canadians. Not a day
passes that we are not healthier, richer and better informed because of the
treasures we extract from the earth. From minerals and metals, we create
television sets and CDs to entertain us; telephones and computers to keep us
in touch; cars, trains and bicycles to transport us; food to sustain us; and
medecine and vitamins to keep us well.
Mining is plugged into the electrical needs of Canadians. Coal and uranium
provide one-third of our electrical requirements every day. We are the
world’s largest producer of uranium, exporting about 85% of what we
produce to nuclear electric utility customers in Japan, Europe and the United
States. Alberta, meanwhile, which produces almost half of the coal mined in
Canada, relies on coal for 84% of its electric power. Copper is used in the
wiring that distributes the power to our homes and offices. On a lighter note,
bulbs contain silica.
In years past, Canadians who strived for hockey medals did so on blades of
steel. Now, on skates comprised of complex alloys, players pass and shoot
with sticks of graphite. Young baseball players swing for the fences with
aluminum bats while skateboarders soar for the skies on wheels with
aluminum bearings. Golfers shave strokes with graphite drivers. At local
clubs and neighbourhood courts, tennis players call on the services of
graphite-fibre and aluminum racquets to drive the ball beyond the reach of
opponents. The resource industries, and mining in particular, lead all other
industrial sectors in productivity, the most important factor in determining the
national standard of living.
Canada has a well-established, effective metal recycling industry. The
Canadian scrap metal recycling industry comprises over 1000 companies
and provides direct employment to approximately 20 000 persons.
What mining removes from the earth, we often use to protect it. We rely on
lime to treat industrial waste water and control air pollution. Our water is
purified because of manganese and activated carbon. The emissions from
cars and trucks are controlled by platinum. Mining is at work in our gardens
as well. We are the world’s largest exporter of peat, used to condition soil.
In fact, mining has developed a bit of a green thumb of its own. In a
mined-out chamber of a zinc-copper mine in Manitoba, roses, orchids,
tomatoes and a wide variety of trees and bushes occupy a thriving garden
some 365 metres below the earth’s surface.
Responding to the industry’s domestic environmental requirements has
helped to foster environmental expertise inCanada and to export this
expertise. For example, Canadian-based consulting, engineering and
environmental technologies and service companies are enjoying rapid
international growth in South America and elsewhere.
Television probably wouldn’t turn you on without the 35 minerals and metals
required to make it work. Without barite, there would be no tube. Lead is
required to manufacture the glass for the screen while rare earths give the
colours their richness. Mining strikes a vital note in the music industry as
well. Vibrating magnets lend quality to the sound produced by your
speakers. Aluminum is found in compact discs while brass, a copper-zinc
alloy, is used in a wide variety of instruments such as trumpets and
If the future of mining is looking up, it is in part because of its ability to look
down. The mining industry today employs specially equipped planes,
helicopters and satellites that can pinpoint potential mining sites to within a
few metres. Prospectors use hand-held locational devices that identify exact
positions using satellites. In all, mining companies spend more than $1 billion
a year on exploration, research and development. Sophisticated technologies
are already being used by 85% of those employed in mining, and the use of
computers is standard practice.
The average work experience of mine workers in Canada is 21 years,
significantly higher than the total population average of 14.5 years (for
workers aged 15-69) and second only to workers in the religious
The federal Department of Mines (now known as Natural Resources
Canada) was created in 1907.
Construction of a gas pipeline from Alberta to Quebec began in 1956.
In 1945, Dominion Magnesium Ltd. was the first company in Canada to
produce calcium commercially.
In 1931, selenium was produced for the first time in Canada by Ontario
Refining Co. Ltd.
In 1930, Canada became the world’s second largest gold producer. Canadian