Monitoring Canada's mine production

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 72, No. 807, 1979

H. L MARTIN, J. A. MclNTOSH and J. ZWARTENDYK, Mineral Policy Sector, Energy, Mines and Resources Canada, Ottawa

A joint federal-provincial approach in gathering basic information from industry on mine production,   concentrator operations and ore reserves, initiated during 1978, is a major step toward the goal of achieving better government-industry communication through a common data base. Information from questionnaires sent out by provincial governments is shared with the federal government; correct interpretation is ensured by mine visits conducted jointly by provincial and federal representatives.Initial focus is on nonferrous metal mines. The federal Department of Energy, Mines and Resources (EMR) is responsible for a national analysis that is aimed at the early detection of worrisome developments—and their reasons—in the flow from resources to reserves and from reserves to supply of these metals.The heart of the national analysis is the annual construction of a "monitoring curve", showing each metal's aggregated mine production as it would decrease over time if no new reserves and production capacity were to be added from the year of analysis. For a given metal, a comparison of monitoring curves from year to year can reveal early signs of supply stagnation. In any one year, a monitoring curve in conjunction with foreseen needs for Canadian mine output will show the production gap that would have to be filled from reserves and production capacity yet to be developed.The production gaps for copper, nickel, zinc and lead, the four leading base metals mined in Canada, are shown for the 20-year period ahead, in the context of production achieved during the past 20 years. It is shown that reserve levels commensurate with likely future production levels would require that average annual reserve additions during 1978-98 exceed the average annual additions during the preceding 20 years.Reserve levels of all four metals have declined in recent years. A review of significant discoveries in the last five years suggests that this fall in reserves is not the result of a lack of exploration successes, but of stagnation in development for various economic reasons.
Keywords: Mine production, Mineral economics, Ore reserves, Data case, Copper, Nickel, Lead, Zinc, Mineral resources, Production, Monitoring.