OTTAWA - World interest in Canadian minerals and metals reached a record high in 2011 as measured by exploration spending, according to the Mining Association of Canada's (MAC) new Facts & Figures 2012 report. Exploration investment in Canada reached $3.9 billion in 2011, with spending for 2012 expected to have climbed even higher.
"The growth in exploration spending in Canada over the past decade has been remarkable," said MAC president and CEO Pierre Gratton. "Despite challenges, such as reduced access to capital for some miners, buoyant mineral prices have increased company willingness to invest significantly in the location and development of certain minerals and metals in Canada."
The report found that from 2002 to 2011, exploration spending grew by 585%. Worldwide in 2011, Canada was the top destination for exploration spending, hosting 18% of global investment. Canada's three territories together received 22% of total 2011 exploration spending. This amount, more than three times the territories' share of production value, reflects growing interest in Canada's northern mineral potential.
Canadian mineral production value rose 21% to a record $50.3 billion in 2011 as mineral prices went up. While well established mining provinces continued to dominate in mineral production, with Ontario ($10.6 billion), Saskatchewan ($9.2 billion), British Columbia ($8.5 billion) and Quebec ($7.7 billion) seizing the top four spots, there were notable increases in other regions. For example, Newfoundland and Labrador's mineral production value reached $5.1 billion in 2011 – a six-fold increase over the last decade.
The industry exported a record $101.9 billion worth of metals, non-metals and coal in 2011, accounting for 22.8% of Canada's total exports. The same year, the industry contributed $35.6 billion to the national GDP, paid over $9 billion in taxes and royalties to Canadian governments and employed 320,000 workers across the country.
"As exploration activity and mineral production are intrinsically linked, the Canadian mining industry could see a dramatic expansion in the years to come," said Gratton. "While some volatility is anticipated, the larger determinant in capitalizing on the opportunities before us is to ensure the industry has access to the right investment and regulatory environments it needs to support development."
In looking to 2013, the report stressed that despite challenges, the Canadian mining industry's economic prospects are strong. "Regardless of concerns over the growth rates of China and other emerging markets, it is widely held that growth, even if at a moderately reduced pace, is likely to remain strong over the long term," said Gratton.
The Mining Association of Canada (Mining.ca) is the national organization for the Canadian mining industry. Its members account for most of Canada's production of base and precious metals, uranium, diamonds, metallurgical coal, mined oil sands and industrial minerals and are actively engaged in mineral exploration, mining, smelting, refining and semi-fabrication.