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Canada exported a record amount of minerals in 2021

Barriers to mining remains in Canada's north -- Mining Association of Canada
Tahltan First Nation underground miners at Brucejack mine in B.C. | Submitted

Canada exported record levels of metals and minerals in 2021 – roughly one-fifth of Canada’s total merchandise exports -- according to a new report by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC).

Mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction accounted for $2 trillion in gross domestic product in 2021 – eight per cent of Canada’s total GDP.

“In 2021, the sector made up a larger portion of Canada’s economy than finance, construction, transportation or retail trade,” says the MAC report, The Canadian Mining Story.

“The current state of mining and the Canadian economy is strong,” the report says.

The future prospects for mining in Canada look even stronger, thanks to the recognition of the importance of critical minerals for the energy transition – something that is being acknowledged by governments around the world, many of which are scrambling to secure their own supplies of critical minerals.

“Over the past 12 months the mining sector has seen positive commitments from the federal government, including the Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy, the 2022 Fall Economic Statement, and the 2022 and 2023 budgets,” the report notes. “Budget 2023 also included a commitment to a strategy to improve overall timelines for new projects by this fall. These measures, and the enhanced collaboration with allies in the European Union and US, are encouraging.”

“Recent commitments, specifically those included in Budget 2023, will improve our industry’s ability to provide the minerals and metals integral to low-carbon technologies and the energy transition – this is good news as time is of the essence if we are to establish Canada as the global mining supplier of choice,” said MAC president Pierre Gratton.

Canada does still have barriers to mining, however, including what the report calls an “infrastructure deficit,” particularly in Canada’s north. Though rich in minerals, Canada’s north lacks roads, railways and power, making it one of the most expensive places in the world to build and operate a mine.

“Investments in power, communications and transportation by all levels of government will help to connect the North to the rest of Canada, and allow for the responsible development of mineral resources there,” the report recommends.

Mining employs 665,000 Canadians and is the largest private sector employer of First Nations. Canadian mining companies own mines and exploration projects in 96 countries, and have invested more $106 billion abroad.

Foreign direct investment in Canadian mining and exploration projects, meanwhile, hit an all-time high in 2021 $65 billion, or six per cent of Canada’s total foreign direct investment.

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