April 2019

Country Snapshot: Canada

  • By Ryan Leaver, Marketing and Editorial Assistant, AusIMM

One of the world’s mining powerhouses, Canada enjoys a prosperous and stable industry that is the envy of many nations around the world

Universally known as one of the greatest mining countries in the world, Canada is one of the largest exporters of metals and minerals. Canada is made up of ten provinces and three territories, and has a population of more than 37 million people. Its most populated city is Toronto, with 5 429 000 people, while the capital city, Ottawa, is only the sixth most populated city with 989 000 people. 

Spanning across a total land area of more than 9 000 000 square km, Canada is second only to Russia for size. Canada’s terrain varies from city high rises, forested plains, frozen tundra and everything in between. Its large land mass means it is bordered by the US both to its south and north-west (Alaska) and the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

Canada has two official languages, English and French.

Economy and the resources industry

According to the World Bank, Canada has the tenth largest GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the world, sitting at US$1.65 trillion. The most recent statistics available show that mining contributed over US$54 billion to the country’s GDP in 2017. Each province plays a part in the contribution mining makes to the GDP, with Ontario (US$7.36 billion), British Columbia (US$6.6 billion) and Quebec (US$6.42 billion) having the largest inputs.

Canada has always had a strong connection to mining and resources, and a major contributor to its economy has consistently been its rich resources industry. The varying terrains and large-scale land mass of the country mean that there is an abundance of natural resources to be mined.

Canada ranks in the top ten countries for multiple resources including potash (ranked first in the world), petroleum (third), coal (fifth) and iron ore (eighth). Canada produces 29 per cent of the worlds potash and accounts for 37 per cent of the global trade of the mineral. 

Potash is a key ingredient in agricultural fertilisers, from high-end to common garden quality products, while it has also been used for creating glass and soap for centuries. A naturally occurring mineral, the largest reserve of potash in the world is found in Saskatchewan. 

The mining industry is one of the leading industries for employment in Canada, with more than 403 000 people directly employed in the sector and a further 193 000 indirectly. This includes 16 500 indigenous people being employed in the industry as of 2016. The resources industry is one of the top employers of the indigenous peoples of Canada and continues to support indigenous businesses and communities.

‘According to a report by the Canadian Government, around 75 per cent of the world’s mining companies are headquartered in Canada.’

Canada’s professional resources association, The Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) was founded in 1898 and has 11 000 members. Much like AusIMM, CIM is made up of a variety of technical societies and branches. Both AusIMM and CIM are members of the Global Mineral Professionals Alliance (GMPA) and AusIMM members can be recognised as ‘visiting members’ when living and working in Canada (and vice-versa). 

According to a report by the Canadian Government, around 75 per cent of the world’s mining companies are headquartered in Canada and around 60 per cent are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Some of the largest companies based in Canada include Barrick Gold, Goldcorp and Nutrien.

Canada’s economy is a stable one, with investment and relationships coming from all across the globe. Canada has trade agreements with a variety of countries including free-trade agreements (FTA) with the US, Israel, Chile, South Korea, Ukraine and various others.

The majority of investment and trade comes from the US – with whom Canada has had an FTA with since 1989 – as well as the North American FTA between the neighbouring nations and Mexico which begun in 1994. Canada has free trade deals with all other G7 nations, with the deal with Japan being the most recent. 

Overall, trade comprises of around 65 per cent of Canada’s total GDP, with three-quarters of the trade being directly done with the US. The US is also the largest international investor into the Canadian economy, contributing close to half of the foreign direct investment. 

Canada’s minerals industry has always been strong, and due to the vast size of the country, there will be a valued place for mining for some time to come.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that English was predominately spoken in the east of Canada, and French in the west. Saskatchewan was also referred to as being located in central Canada, when in fact it is part of the Western provinces. 


Information in this snapshot was compiled from the following resources:














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