Canada remained the top destination for global exploration in 2011, attracting 18% of world spending, according to the Mining Association of Canada's (MAC) new Facts & Figures 2012 report released Monday.
Exploration investment in the country reached a record high of $3.9 billion in 2011, with spending for 2012 expected to have climbed even higher.
"Despite challenges, such as reduced access to capital for some miners, buoyant mineral prices have increased company willingness to invest significantly in the location and development of certain minerals and metals in Canada," says Pierre Gratton, MAC's President and CEO.
The study shows that from 2002 to 2011, exploration spending grew by 585%, favouring by far Canada's three territories, which together received 22% of the total 2011 international exploration spending.
The amount, more than three times the territories' share of production value, reflects growing interest in Canada's northern mineral potential, says the report.
Canadian mineral production value rose 21% to a record $50.3 billion in 2011 as mineral prices went up. While well-established mining provinces continued to dominate in mineral production, with Ontario ($10.6 billion), Saskatchewan ($9.2 billion), British Columbia ($8.5 billion) and Quebec ($7.7 billion) seizing the top four spots, there were notable increases in other regions. For example, Newfoundland and Labrador's mineral production value reached $5.1 billion in 2011 – a six-fold increase over the last decade.
The industry exported a record $101.9 billion worth of metals, non-metals and coal in 2011, accounting for 22.8% of Canada's total exports. The same year, the industry contributed $35.6 billion to the national GDP, paid over $9 billion in taxes and royalties to Canadian governments and employed 320,000 workers across the country.
Robust 2013 outlook
Since exploration activity and mineral production are intrinsically linked, the study says the Canadian mining industry could see a dramatic expansion in the next few years.
"While some volatility is anticipated, the larger determinant in capitalizing on the opportunities before us is to ensure the industry has access to the right investment and regulatory environments it needs to support development."
Despite current challenges for the global mining industry, the report stresses that Canada's prospects remain strong.
“Regardless of concerns over the growth rates of China and other emerging markets, it is widely held that growth, even if at a moderately reduced pace, is likely to remain strong over the long term," concludes Gratton.
(Image: Canada Day's celebrations in Ottawa)