Mining has been a key industry in the global economy since the beginning of advanced civilizations. Today, from energy to electricity, farming to houseware, healthcare to transportation, mined materials are the building blocks of our everyday life.
As demand continues to grow, the industry is ramping up its activities to deliver. However, there is a change in the making – it’s now the era of critical minerals. Critical minerals such as copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements are taking over from their fossil fuel counterparts because of their pivotal role in a cleaner and greener future. The demand for these critical minerals is projected to increase 6 fold, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
From 2022 to 2023, the global mining industry grew by 6.1% CAGR – from US $2022.6 billion to US $2145.15 billion and is expected to reach US $2775.5 billion by 2027. Apart from critical minerals taking centre-stage and governments racing to secure access to them, other trends that mark the growth of the industry include mining companies focussing on ESG to reduce their carbon footprint, the need for a social licence from communities, partners and stakeholders, and faster adoption of technology in mining corporations to ensure efficiency and lower costs of production
About the Canadian Mining Industry
Canada is a global mining leader. It is a key supplier to North America, Asia, and Europe. Globally, Canada ranks first in potash production, second in niobium, and third in palladium. It is also the fourth-largest primary producer of aluminium.
Canada produces more than 60 different minerals and metals from nearly 200 mines and over 6,500 stone, sand, and gravel quarries. The value of Canada’s metals production stands at $36B, non-metals at $12B, and coal at $8B.
Canada is one of the top 5 global producers of:
- Platinum group metals
- Titanium concentrate
Canadian Mineral Production by Province
Every province and territory in Canada has mineral production. The top three provinces by value for mineral production are British Columbia ($12.9 billion), Quebec ($11.9 billion), and Ontario ($11.1 billion).
Canadian Mining Growth Focus Areas
- Critical Minerals
Ensuring the accessibility and dependable production of minerals and metals used in electric vehicles, renewable energy, clean technology, and advanced manufacturing supply chains is a matter of utmost global importance.
Canada has a huge advantage in this area because of its diversified mineral endowment. It is not only a key producer of base metals, gold, and diamonds, but is also bestowed with natural resources to produce copper, nickel, cobalt, and rare earth elements like lithium, graphite and vanadium.
In fact, Canada possesses some of the world’s most significant known resources (measured and indicated) of rare earth, estimated to be over 15 million tonnes of rare earth oxides. Making Canada an extremely valuable part of the world’s supply chain.
The Government of Canada has committed almost $4 billion to a Critical Minerals Strategy to further strengthen its position in the global market and support green economies. This investment aims to enhance the supply of critical minerals, fostering the growth of domestic and international value chains in the renewable energy and tech sectors.
2. Environmental, Social, and Governance
Canada has one of the world’s cleanest electricity grids, with 82% of electricity generated with zero GHG emissions – 67% of electricity is produced from hydroelectric and other renewables. Mining is not lagging behind either; Canada is committed to looking at the mining industry through the same lens.
The Green Mining Initiative, led by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), has been working towards the sector’s environmental performance and creating green technology opportunities.
Canadian mines already show low GHG emissions for various commodities, benefitting from clean energy sources and substantial investments in green technologies. Ongoing efforts include electrification of equipment and vehicle fleets and the development of new emission-reducing technologies. Even remote off-grid mines with limited energy alternatives have adopted solutions like wind turbines to decrease diesel fuel dependency.
Industry-led initiatives are also setting a very high standard for other countries to follow. The Mining Association of Canada pioneered their own standard, now recognized globally, called TSM (Towards Sustainable Mining) – a sustainability program that helps mining corporations turn their environmental and social goals into action. Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada) introduced the e3 Plus – a framework for responsible exploration, an online information resource to help companies exploring minerals improve their social, environmental, and health and safety performance.
Large mining operations in Canada, like The Macassa gold mine (Kirkland Lake Gold), have already switched to battery-powered equipment. Newmont Goldcorp Borden’s gold mine is Canada’s first all-electric mine; Onaping Depth deep mine also has an all-electric fleet of equipment.
Start-Up Business Opportunities in the Canadian Mining Tech Industry
Canada’s hydropower, research expertise, mineral resources, and skilled tech workers make it an easy base to develop green tech for the mining industry. As the industry shifts to a net-zero carbon economy, large mining companies like BHP Group, Rio Tinto Ltd, Vale S.A, and many more based in Canada are ready to adopt more innovative, disruptive tech.
From battery powered vehicles, advanced safety tech to zero emissions commercial plants, start-ups can grab leading mining companies as their clients by starting up or expanding in Canada.
In fact, new incentives like the Clean Tech Tax Credit offer a 30% refundable credit on eligible clean tech equipment costs for companies that want to adopt new tech. Below are some mining tech opportunities in Canada:
- Renewable Power and Mine Electrification: Using renewables reduces both emissions and fuel-related costs, particularly in remote regions. Investments in Canada can tap into expertise in renewable energy, energy storage, electrification, and mining automation to create futuristic tech.
- Alternative Powered Vehicles: The push to shift from fossil fuels offers opportunities in electric, hydrogen, and hybrid vehicle tech.
- Ore Sorting: As ore grades decline, innovative sorting tech has become essential. Start-ups can take advantage of these advancements.
- Waste Management: Beyond treating tailings and water, there’s a growing focus on mining minerals from waste. There is a need for mining tech that can support waste value extraction.
- Digitalization and Automation: Boosting productivity while ensuring worker safety is pivotal. Canada’s MSS industry provides state-of-the-art automation and digital solutions for safer, efficient operations.
- Advanced Safety Technologies: Canada is known for their advanced mine safety measures, and start-ups can benefit from this ecosystem and contribute by improving safety monitoring and developing novel safety solutions. Examples include ventilation on demand, tailored lock-out, and fatigue monitoring capabilities, which would make deep mining safer and significantly reduce risks related to explosions and improve worker safety.
- Smart Monitoring Systems: Developing advanced sensing technologies to monitor ground stresses, seismic activities, and environmental changes in and around mine sites can help early detection of potential dangers.
- Dust Management Systems: Tools and methods for monitoring, predicting, and managing dust dispersion from mining sites, especially in fragile ecosystems can help reserve the delicate balance of ecosystems.
Canadian Government Support for Mining Companies
If you are interested in making the most of futuristic mining opportunities in Canada, the government has a multitude of mining-friendly tax benefits, tools, and incentives that can help you:
- Mineral Exploration Tax Credit (METC): 15% credit to help exploration companies raise equity funds and an extended FTS investment tax deduction until March 31, 2024.
- Deduction of Provincial/Territorial Mining Taxes and Royalties: Taxes and royalties on mineral resource income are fully deductible for corporate income tax.
- Flow-Through Shares (FTSs): FTSs allow companies to transfer certain expenses, such as mineral exploration or development to shareholders which can reduce their taxable income.
- Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance: Businesses can write off 100% of the cost of machinery used in specified clean energy generation/ conservation equipment.
- Canadian Exploration Expense (CEE): Expenses incurred when determining the existence, location, extent, or quality of a mineral resource in Canada are 100% deductible in the same year.
- Canadian Development Expense (CDE): Expenses such as sinking or excavating a mine shaft, and pre-production mine development expenses after 2017 is deductible at a 30% declining balance
- Clean Tech Tax Credit: A 30% refundable credit on eligible clean tech equipment costs, available from 2023 to 2032/2034.
- Canada Growth Fund: Targets risk mitigation in natural resources and critical supply chains using tools like concessional loans. Its goal is to draw private capital for the net-zero economy, focusing on critical minerals development.
- Loss Provisions: Acknowledging the mining industry’s volatility, Canada allows net capital losses to be carried back three years or forward indefinitely, and non-capital losses to be carried back three years or forward for 20 years.
- Critical Minerals Innovation Fund (CMIF) : The Critical Minerals Innovation Fund (CMIF) provides funding to projects that help strengthen Ontario’s critical minerals sector.
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