Mining in Canada’s North Could Almost Double by 2020: Report


"The annual gross domestic product of mining in the North, which was CA$4.4B in 2011, is expected to reach CA$8.5B in 2020, according to the report 'The Future of Mining in Canada's North.'"

Northern Canada map
Overall metal and non-metallic mineral production is expected to grow by 91% from 2011 to 2020. With a compound annual growth rate of 7.5%, says a new report by the Conference Board of Canada.

The annual gross domestic product of mining in the North, which was C$4.4 billion in 2011, is expected to reach C$8.5 billion in 2020, according to the report, The Future of Mining in Canada's North.

This forecast assumes the current business environment in the North will be similar throughout the forecast period, with its current taxation and regulatory regimes and its current trend in addressing infrastructure and skilled labor constraints.

"Mining is the future economic driver of Canada's North," said Anja Jeffrey, director, Centre for the North. "To fully reap the benefits of this potential, we must find the right balance between risk and opportunity."

Among mining's significant challenges are: improvements to regulatory processes; inadequate or non-existent infrastructure, including for transportation, energy, and connectivity; skilled labor shortage; improved engagement of local and Aboriginal communities; environmental stewardship; and clarity surrounding mine closure.


Northern Newfoundland and Labrador's mining output will expand by 41% from 2011 to 2020 with an annual compound growth rate of 3.7%. By 2020, there will be 3,050 Northern Newfoundland and Labrador residents working in mines, 534 more than 2011.

Mining production in Northern Quebec "is expected to pick up strongly, supported by high mineral prices and increased exploration activity. The average annual compound growth rate in mining output is expected to be 13% over the 2011-20 forecast period," said the report.

Two large mines are expected to open in Northern Quebec next year including the Eleonore gold mine and the Bloom Lake iron ore mine. Stornway's Renard Diamond project, the first diamond mine in Quebec, is expected to begin production in 2016.

Northern Ontario's mining outlook is anticipated to expand by 66% from 2011 to 2020 at a compound annual growth rate of 5.8%. "This is due to important new mineral developments," said the report, which include the Detour Lake gold project, the Cochenour gold mine, the Hammond Reef gold project, and the Eagle's Nest nickel, copper, gold, platinum and palladium mine.

Mining production in Northern Manitoba is expected to increase 157% from 2011 to 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of 11.1%. By 2020, nearly 1,000 Northerners in Manitoba are expected to have mining jobs.

"A solid turnaround is expected" in Northern Saskatchewan mining with a 100% increase from $190 million in 2011 to $388 million in 2020, says the report. The La Ronge gold project has started, while the Goldfields gold mine project is expected to begin production in 2014. The Cigar Lake uranium mine is expected to commence production this year.

It is anticipated that the total number of Northerners employed in Saskatchewan mining will be 3,537 in 2020.

"Northern British Columbia is expected to see the fastest expansion of mining output of all the Northern regions of the forecast period," said the Conference Board of Canada. "Starting in 2013, mining production will begin a rapid ascent due to the opening of many new mines."

"Northern British Columbia's mining output will increase by an impressive 300% between 2011 and 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of 17%," said the report. The Mount Milligan copper and gold project is expected to begin full production in 2014, while the Avanti molybdenum project is forecast to begin operation in the new few years. It is anticipated that the Galore Creek gold, silver and copper mine will start production in 2020.

By 2020, 4,826 Northern British Columbians are expected to be employed in mining.

Meanwhile mining production in the Yukon will continue to grow, reaching about $268 million. The mining boom will increase mining employment in the territory to 1,282 workers.

The Northwest Territories has benefitted from diamond mining, but metal mining output is expected to grow substantially. Three new mines will open in 2015, the NICO gold, bismuth and cobalt project; the Prairie Creek lead, zinc and silver project; and the Nechalacho total rare earth oxides mine. While mining employment in the NWT is expected to decline to 700 people by 2014, it is expected to reach 1,322 by 2020.

For the remainder of the decade, Nunavut's mining output will more than double to reach $352 million in 2020 with a compound annual growth rate of 8.8%. With the new mining activity expected over the long-term there will be 790 Nunavummiut employed in mining by 2020.

"Furthermore, there is greater mining potential is Canada's North than what is presented in the long-term forecast," said the report. "For example, Northern Quebec's future mining projects in rare earths, lithium and graphite have not been included."

"The Ring of Fire in Northern Ontario also holds greater potential than what is currently project. Similarly, the territories have a number of promising sites that could be developed over and above those included in the outlook. Important and undeveloped mineral deposits such as uranium, diamonds, and gold still remain in various Northern regions of Canada," said the Conference Board of Canada.

Dorothy Kosich

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