By the Numbers: Reversing the decline in Canada’s mining sector through innovation

Mark Mann
July 29, 2020

As Canada’s mining sector shows signs of slipping, companies and innovation leaders are calling for more dedicated federal funding and the development of a national strategy that would link regional clusters. Steering the sector to growth will require increased reliance on innovation and commitment to sustainable practices. 

“Mining companies and suppliers and others recognize innovation is really necessary, not only just to compete globally, but also with the longer-term recovery from COVID.” – Carl Weatherell, executive director and CEO, Canada Mining Innovation Council


A Portrait of Canada’s Mining Sector

409,000 - Number of workers directly employed in mineral extraction, smelting, fabrication and manufacturing

No. 1 - The largest private-sector employer of Indigenous peoples, providing over 16,500 jobs

$69.5 billion - Amount contributed to Canada’s real GDP in 2018 (a 19% increase year-over-year) 

$9.4 billion - Amount invested in mine complex development in Canada in 2018

20% - Percent of the overall value of Canadian goods exported in 2018 ($104.5 billion)

34% - Percent of the world’s total mining equity capital in 2018 ($6.5 billion raised)

$271.8 billion - Combined market value of Canada’s mining firms listed on the TSX 

Top 5 - Canada’s rank among countries in the global production of 15 minerals and metals, including No. 1 in potash, gemstones and titanium concentrate

Mining Hubs Across Canada

Vancouver: The world’s leading cluster of mining exploration companies, with 700 firms

Toronto: The global centre for mining finance — the Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange are the world’s No.1 mining and exploration listing venues

Montreal: Home to major aluminum and iron ore firms

Edmonton: The centre for oil sands mining expertise

Saskatoon: A centre of expertise in mining uranium and potash.

Canada’s Global Mining Leadership in Decline

50% -   Decrease in the total projected value for Canadian mining projects planned and under construction from 2019 to 2029, down to $80 billion from $160 billion since 2014 

43% - Decrease over consecutive years in capital investment in the Canadian mining sector since the 2012 peak of $19.5 billion.

Stagnant: Mining foreign direct investment into Canada has remained stagnant, rising only slightly from $23.5 billion to $24.5 billion.

Slipping: Since last year, Canada has lost its top-five ranking in production of nickel and cobalt, and no longer holds the position as top producer of copper, zinc, molybdenum, lead and cadmium.

Surpassed: Australia’s mining supply sector has surpassed Canada’s and now has about 700 firms more than Canada. Canada spends about $550 million annually on mining R&D and innovation, compared with $2.8 billion in Australia.


“Mining is at a bit of a crossroads in Canada. Innovation and new technologies are rapidly reshaping the sector, while environmental and social expectations continue to grow. At the same time, we are seeing consolidation in the industry as companies look to find synergies and drive down costs.” – Heather Cheeseman, partner, Energy and Natural Resources for KPMG in Canada


Opportunities and challenges for growth

The projected global growth for metals needed for battery production by 2028 is massive, including:

  • Nickel +1,237%
  • Cobalt +256%
  • Lithium +575%
  • Graphite +530%

Canada has 14 of the 19 metals and minerals needed to make a solar PV panel.

Canada’s mining industry will need to hire 79,680 new workers over the next decade.

Women accounted for only 15% of mining’s labour force in 2018, down 2% from 2011.



Other News

Events For Leaders in
Science, Tech, Innovation, and Policy

Discuss and learn from those in the know at our virtual and in-person events.

See Upcoming Events

You have 1 free article remaining.
Don't miss out - start your free trial today.

Start your FREE trial    Already a member? Log in


By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies.
We use cookies to provide you with a great experience and to help our website run effectively
in accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.