Canada’s potential as a mining nation hasn’t been fully realized
The mineral and metals industry contributes to Canadian prosperity and delivers socio-economic benefits to communities in which it operates. That said, its full potential has not been realized. Large areas, particularly in the North, contain a diverse range of mineral deposits, but these areas are under-explored and under-developed.
Learn more about challenges and opportunities for unlocking Canada’s resource potential
Exploration is key to sustaining mineral production. This activity: discovers new deposits; identifies areas for further exploration; advances existing projects; creates jobs; supports the development of communities and regions; and attracts partners, investors or buyers that enable projects to move towards production.
Mineral exploration is often conducted by small firms called “junior mining companies.” In fact, Canada hosts the largest junior mining sector in the world. These companies act as project generators for larger producing companies and help fill the pipeline of future mineral production.
Federal, provincial and territorial governments support programs and policies that promote a competitive exploration sector. Public geoscience provides information that is made widely available for the exploration industry and others. Investments in public geoscience reduce investment risk by allowing explorers to focus their work on the areas with the highest probability of success.
They also leverage financial mechanisms to further support the competitiveness of the exploration industry, for example, by providing tax credits and tax deductions to help junior mining companies attract investment to finance their activities.
Land access for mining-related activities is an issue that directly relates to Canada’s competitive position, as the availability of prospective land influences investment decisions by private companies. Governments may decide to withdraw areas from potential mining activity for reasons related to ecological and cultural protection, or Indigenous land claim negotiations.
Infrastructure is a key element of a vibrant mining industry. It allows workers and supplies to reach production sites, delivers products to market (road, rail, port), enables communications (high-speed telecommunications), powers mines and other facilities (transmission lines), and supports local communities (all of the above).
Infrastructure also brings other socio-economic benefits, particularly in remote, isolated and northern areas; however, a lack of infrastructure in these communities can hinder further mineral development. Closures of Canadian smelting and refining facilities over the past decades has meant that much of the value created from processing Canadian products is being captured by other economies. Further, decreased domestic processing capacity can place additional pressure on Canadian mining operations, who would benefit from a domestic processing facility purchasing its products. This may impact the business case for mining in Canada.