Mining investment and production in Québec in 2016 and 2017 and outlook for 2018

Québec’s mining sector picks up

Québec, April 12, 2018. – Following a strong decline in mining investment from $5.13 billion to $2.49 billion between 2012 and 2015 and a drop in the value of mineral shipments below $8 billion in 2015, prospects for growth in Québec’s mining sector are improving.

For the year 2016, mining investment was up 2.9% from 2015 to $2.57 billion. According to preliminary data, mining investment1 increased 8.1% in 2017 to $2.77 billion. The value of mineral shipments was up 7.8% in 2016 to $8.11 billion, before rising 10.9% in 2017 to $8.99 billion (based on preliminary data).

According to intentions expressed by mining companies, investment should increase by 22.2% in 2018 and reach $3.39 billion. In addition, based on intentions expressed by mining producers, the value of shipments should rise 5.8% to $9.52 billion.

These findings are based on the Annual Census on Mining Investment in Québec and the Annual Census on Mineral Production. The most recent data from these surveys were published today on the website of the Institut de la statistique du Québec. The bulletin Mines en chiffres – La production minérale au Québec en 2016 is also available today.

Investment in Québec’s main mining regions

In the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, where mining activities are mostly focused on gold, mining investment was up 25.8% in 2016 to $895 million and 32.2% in 2017 to $1,183 million.

In the Côte-Nord and Nord-du-Québec regions, which were both particularly affected by the drop in base metal and iron prices, investment continued to drop in 2016, declining 14.2% in Côte-Nord to $560 million and 1.2% in Nord-du-Québec to $1,035 million. In 2017, mining investment was up 17.3% in Côte-Nord to $657 million, but dropped 18.7% in the Nord-du-Québec region to $841 million.

Mining infrastructure expenditures

Mining infrastructure investment rose 1.5% in 2016 to $2.27 billion, but declined 3.2% in 2017 to 2.20 billion. Mining companies intend to spend $2.73 billion on mining infrastructure in 2018.

In 2017, these investments included $705 million in general rock work for mine complex development, $880 million in capital costs and $611 million in repair and maintenance costs for non-residential construction, machinery and equipment.

Gold mines figured prominently in Québec, accounting for 53.7% of investment expenditures by Québec mines in 2017. Iron ore mining and processing facilities as well as ilmenite (iron-titanium) mines came in second place (28.0%), followed by base metal mines (13.3%).

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures

Exploration and deposit appraisal work expenditures fell 68.9% between 2011 and 2015, plummeting from $834 million to $259 million. These expenditures then picked up in the following years, increasing 14.6% in 2016 and 93.8% in 2017 to $297 million and $577 million respectively. According to intentions expressed by mining companies, these expenditures should again grow by 13.9% in 2018 to $657 million.

In 2017, Nord-du-Québec was replaced by Abitibi-Témiscamingue as the top-ranking region in terms of exploration and deposit appraisal work expenditures. These expenditures stood at $298 million in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, accounting for 51.8% of the Québec total. The Nord-du-Québec region came in second place with expenditures totalling $239 million (41.4%), followed by Côte-Nord with $27 million (4.7%).

Precious metals, gold in particular, remained the most sought-after commodities in Québec in 2017, accounting for 72.9% of exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, for a total of $420 million. They were followed by base metals (10.6% for a total of $61 million). Lithium, graphite and rare earths accounted for 10.5% of exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures in Québec ($61 million).

Mineral shipments

The value of mineral shipments was up 7.8% in 2016 to $8.11 billion, then increased 10.9% in 2017 to $8.99 billion (according to preliminary data). Based on intentions for 2018, the value of shipments should rise 5.8% to $9.52 billion (estimated based on average metal values in 2017).

In 2016, 70.5% of the total value of mineral shipments was split between Québec’s three main mining regions: 27.6% ($2.24 billion) for Nord-du-Québec, 25.5% ($2.07 billion) for Abitibi-Témiscamingue, and 17.4% ($1.42 billion) for Côte-Nord. The Montérégie region, with its mineral processing plants, ranked fourth and accounted for 15.5% ($1.25 billion) of the total value of shipments.

In terms of value, metal commodity shipments accounted for 83.7% of all mineral shipments in Québec in 2016 and totalled $6.79 billion—40.7% ($2.76 billion) for gold, 37.5% ($2.54 billion) for iron ore, iron, ilmenite, titanium and niobium, 17.6% ($1.20 billion) for base metals, 0.9% ($0.06 billion) for silver, and 3.3% ($0.23 billion) for other metal commodities. The value of non-metallic mineral commodity shipments stood at $1.32 billion, of which 72.6% ($959 million) was attributable to building materials and 11.2% ($149 million) to mineral mines (diamond, graphite, mica, salt and silica).

Employment in the mining sector

In 2016, there were 16,071 jobs (year-persons) related to the mining sector, which includes mining as well as certain primary mineral manufacturing activities. The wage bill for these jobs totalled $1,632 million. Compared with 2015, the number of jobs increased by 2.5% and the wage bill rose by 2.3%.

In 2017, a total of 15,376 mining-related jobs (year-persons) were identified, for a total wage bill of $1,666 million. According to preliminary data, the number of jobs was down 4.3%, while the wage bill increased by 2.1%.

Mining jobs were mostly located in Québec’s three main mining regions in 2016: 23.0% (3,697 jobs) were in Nord-du-Québec, 22.4% (3,603 jobs) in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, and 15.2% (2,440 jobs) in the Côte-Nord region. The 2,645 jobs in Montérégie were mainly in primary mineral manufacturing and accounted for 16.5% of all mining-related jobs in Québec.

1. Mining investment comprises all exploration and deposit appraisal work expenditures. It also includes expenditures on development work to bring a mine to production and to renew mineral reserves, on infrastructure construction and equipment and machinery acquisition, as well as on repair and maintenance required to maintain the value of capital assets.


The Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyzes and disseminates official, objective and quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society. It is responsible for carrying out all statistical surveys of general interest. The relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.

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