The mining industry is the largest customer for Canada’s transportation sector

Photo courtesy of Imperial Metals Corp.

Frequently Asked Questions

Each year, the Minerals and Metals Sector (MMS) of Natural Resources Canada undertakes a comprehensive review of developments in the mineral industry and publishes the results as the Canadian Minerals Yearbook. This publication forms a continuing historical record from year to year.

To make this information more accessible and timely, the Canadian Minerals Yearbook is made available on the Natural Resouces Canad website:  Canadian Minerals Yearbook

To find coal production statistics for BC visit  BC Ministry of Energy and  Mines website.


To view annual BC metal production and value statistics visit: BC Ministry of Energy and Mines website. Information covers Gold, Silver, Copper, Lead, Zinc and Molybdenum. 

If you are looking for historical photos of mining in BC we recommend you try the following sources:

Vancouver Public Library, Special Collections
350 West Georgia St., Vancouver B.C. V6B 6B1
Telephone: (604) 331-3603
Historical Photographs Telephone: (604) 331-3776
FAX: (604) 331-3777

The Mining Association of British Columbia (MABC), founded in 1901, speaks on behalf of mineral and coal producers and advanced development companies involved in the exploration, development and smelting of minerals in British Columbia, Canada.

The Association for Mineral Exploration in British Columbia (AME BC),  founded in 1912, promotes a healthy environment and business climate for the mineral exploration industry. It is regarded as the predominant voice of mineral exploration and related issues in British Columbia.

The products of the mining industry  help build the highways,electrical and communications networks,housing, automobiles, consumer electronics and other products and infrastructure essential to modern life.

Some samples of consumer application that rely on mining products:

  • Batteries—nickel, cadmium, lithium, cobalt
  • Circuitry—gold, copper, aluminum, steel, lithium, titanium, silver, cobalt, tin, lead, zinc
  • Computer/TV screens—silicon, boron, lead,barium, strontium, phosphorus, indium
  • Cosmetics and jewellery—iron oxide, kaolin, zinc, titanium, dioxide, gold, diamonds, copper
  • Electricity—coal, uranium
  • Eyeglasses—limestone, feldspar, soda ash
  • Leather clothing—borax, chromium, zirconium, aluminum, titanium oxide
  • Musical instruments—copper, silver copper, silver, steel, nickel, brass, cobalt, copper, iron, aluminum
  • Sports equipment—graphite, aluminum, titanium, calcium carbonate, sulphur
  • Sun protection—zinc oxide
  • Steel—nickel, iron ore, zinc for rustproofing
  • Vehicles and tires—steel, copper, zinc, barium, graphite, sulphur, bromine, iodine
  • Wind, solar, hybrids—nickel, aluminum, lithium, gallium, indium, germanium

Information courtesy of Mining Association of Canada, Facts + Figures 2011

Annual mineral production statistics in Canada by province and territory can be found under the Minerals and Metals Sector area of the Natural Resources Canada website. Monthly statistics are located here.

To find contact information for a BC government official or BC government organizations, visit the online  BC Government Directory.

To find information on ministries or departments responsible for natural resources and mining in each province and territory in Canada visit Natural Resources Canada Directory web page:


To locate contact information for federal Ministers of Parliament, Deputy Ministers, Senators and MP offices visit Government of Canada Electronic Directory Services online.

The Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) is a neutral agency that manages the review of proposed major projects in British Columbia, as required by the Environmental Assessment Act.

The Major Projects Management Office (MPMO) is a Government of Canada organization whose role is to provide overarching project management and accountability for major resource projects in the federal regulatory review process, and to facilitate improvements to the regulatory system for major resource projects.

The BC Ministry of Energy and Mines has created a number of recreational panning reserves around the Province that are open to the general public to use for recreational gold panning.

To obtain a list of maps for gold panning areas in the province visit:  Recreational Panning Reserves page on the BC Ministry of Energy and Mines website.

To find information related to mineral titles in BC visit Mineral Titles Online. Mineral Titles Online (MTO) is an Internet-based mineral titles administration system that allows mineral exploration industry to acquire and maintain a mineral titles by selecting the area on a seamless digital GIS map of British Columbia and pay the associated fees electronically.

The Mineral Titles office administers the laws and manages the recording system pertaining to the acquisition and maintenance of mineral, placer and coal rights in the province. The Ministry maintains records and maps which indicate areas available for location and acquisition of title as well as the location and status of mineral and coal titles acquired under the Mineral Tenure Act and Coal Act.

To understand the basics of prospecting read, Introduction to Prospecting by E.L. Faulkner, Paper 1986-4. 

This resource can be accessed in pdf format on the BC Ministry of Energy and Mines website.

A tailings storage facility (TSF) is a structure made up of (one or more dams) built for the purposes of storing the uneconomical ore (ground up rock, sand and silt) and water from the milling process.

Tailings storage facilities are similar to conventional dams and they are subject to similar technical guidelines but serve different purposes. They are also regulated by different government agencies and under separate pieces of legislation.

Tailings, ground up rock (uneconomical ore after processing) plus water, are contained in the TSF. The composition of the tailings will vary depending on the composition of the rock in the surrounding environment and the process of mineral extraction used at each mine.

Water to be discharged from the TSF is regulated by the provincial Environmental Management Act and federal Fisheries Act.[1] [2]




TSFs are regulated in BC by the Ministry of Energy & Mines under the Mines Act[1] and the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in British Columbia[2] (HSRC). The HRSC includes the requirement to use the Canadian Dam Association Dam Safety Guidelines[3].

The CDA guidelines are comprehensive design guidelines that include a Consequence of Failure classification.   Dams are rated according to the potential effect of failure and dams are assigned risk ratings of low, medium, high, very high or extreme.  Design guidelines vary by the risk rating.

Many mining companies in BC also use the Towards Sustainable Mining Tailings Management Protocol and   Guides[4] in managing their operations.






The provincial government through the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in British Columbia (HSRC), requires:

  • Tailings dams are inspected annually, Dam Safety Inspection (DSI), with reports submitted to and reviewed by the Chief Inspector of Mines
  • Dam Safety Reviews are required every five years for dams with a significant, high, very high or extreme classification. These reviews are comprehensive and follow the Association of Profession Engineers of BC (APEG BC) Guidelines[1] and the Canadian Dam Association (CDA) Guidelines.
  • All TSFs are required to have an Operational, Maintenance and Surveillance (OMS) Manual that prescribes the responsibilities of all parties associated with the tailings dam and documents dam safety procedures for monitoring and response to monitoring.



  • Tailings dams are designed to meet specifications to withstand very low probability events, such as floods and earthquakes.
  • Dam break analysis and inundation studies are primarily used to inform the emergency preparedness and response planning and the dam classification.  The dam classification is then used to inform the design specifications. 
  • They are based on hypothetical scenarios not connected to probability of occurrence.   Any imaginable cause of failure, which has a probability greater than zero, is considered. 
  • For example, a dam with an extreme classification would be required to withstand an earthquake with a magnitude that has a probability of 0.0001% chance of occurring.   However, the dam break analyses may assume this event could occur as a “hypothetical event” in the interest of being conservative when it comes to emergency preparedness and response planning.