Abstract top ↑
Mining yields many different mineral commodities. Over the years, the balance of the various minerals produced in Canada has changed and will undoubtedly continue to change in the future. The base metals are actually all metals that are not considered to be precious metals, but common usage in Canada seems to include nickel, copper, zinc, lead and perhaps molybdenum in the base-metal category. By this usage, base metals, together with the various by-products recovered in their production, currently constitute 40 % of the value of total Canadian mine output of all mineral commodities (excluding the petroleum recovered by mining and processing of the Alberta oil sands).
Natural Resources Canada first compiled reserves for the major metals as at January 1, 1974, and has continued to do so for each year since then. The most recent ore reserves compilation is as at January 1, 2000. Reserves are compiled for the total of proven and probable mineable ore only. Inferred mineral resources are not included because the existence and metal grades of such "resources" are based on little information and are therefore too uncertain to be relied upon. The reserves include all ore in producing mines and in all deposits that were, at that date, committed to production. "Committed to production" means that there was a positive feasibility study, all needed permits had been received, equipment had been ordered, and construction was in progress. For each major metal, one figure illustrates annual ore reserves of that metal from January 1, 1974 to January 1, 2000.
Because Canada has a very active exploration industry and excellent exploration statistics, this study can provide information about the exploration efficiency in one of the leading mining countries of the world that constantly tries to keep its share of world mineral production.