This edition provides some very interesting information to our international readers. This edition has chapters from 23 jurisdictions, an overview titled ‘Project development: how to get started’ by Alison Lacy of Fasken in Toronto, a summary of Mining in Japan by Hiroyasu Konno and Yoshiaki Otsuki from Nishimura & Asahi in Tokyo and a Latin American Overview by Florencia Heredia from Allende Brea in Buenos Aires.
One aspect of each chapter that I find most interesting relates to mining’s contribution to the economy and the target minerals in each jurisdiction. Below is a quick summary that can be found at the beginning of each chapter (all monetary values have been converted to US dollars).
North America and Greenland
In Canada, mining accounts for a significant portion of the economy. Domestic mineral production is estimated at US$35 billion in 2018, with production value increasing 4 per cent from 2017. Canada is a leading global producer of several minerals and metals, ranking at the top in the global production of potash, and is a major producer of primary aluminium, cobalt, diamonds, gold, nickel, platinum group metals, salt, titanium concentrates and uranium. Key exports include aluminium, coal, copper, diamonds, gold, uranium, nickel, potash, zinc, iron ore and steel. Recently, there has been a focus on minerals used in battery technology. The value of Canadian cobalt production rose to US$250 million in 2018, a 14 per cent increase from 2017. There is ongoing cobalt and lithium exploration across most of Canada.
In Greenland, the target minerals are ilmenite, molybdenum, coloured corundum (ruby and pink sapphires), eudialyte (zirconium and rare-earth elements), diamonds, iron, lead, zinc nickel and gold. There has been no increased interest in minerals used in battery technology or renewable energy. There are currently six exploitation licences – a gold mine in south Greenland, an iron ore deposit, a gemstone deposit, a lead and zinc mine, an anorthosite mine in west Greenland, and a lead and zinc mine in northern Greenland. At the moment, only the gemstone and anorthosite mine have started production.
Looking at Mexico, in 2016, the mining industry represented 3.3 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP). In addition to this, the social benefits of mining spread to 24 out of the 32 states of the country, which makes Mexico the sixth destination for foreign investment worldwide. The target minerals are gold (16.9 per cent), basalt (14.5 per cent), quarried aggregate (14.4%), silver (10.5 per cent), lead (1.9 per cent), copper (15.0 per cent), coal (1.7 per cent), zinc (6.4 per cent) and limestone (5.7 per cent). During 2017, there were significant increases in the production of molybdenum, zinc, manganese, lead, copper, cadmium, selenium, silver, bismuth and gold. There was also a significant increase in the production of barite, bentonite, celestite, fluorite, wollastonite, magnesium sulfate, coal and gypsum, among other certain minerals.
In the United States by comparison, metal mine production contributed US$25.9 billion to the economy in 2018, with gold (33 per cent), copper (31 per cent), iron ore (16 per cent), and zinc (9 per cent) being the principal contributors. Industrial mineral production in the United States continued to play a large role in the US economy in 2018 with crushed stone (30 per cent), cement (20 per cent) and construction sand and gravel (15 per cent) forming the majority of the US$56.3 billion in value.
In the Latin American overview chapter, it is noted that mining can be a very important contributor to the economies here. The region represents approximately 48 per cent of the world’s copper reserves, 50 per cent of the world’s silver reserves, more than 60 per cent of the world’s lithium reserves, 20 per cent of the gold reserves as well as significant potash reserves. With abundant strategic natural resources, the region has been the target of much foreign direct investment in recent times. In a complex global economy, considering the demands of China, its trade war with the United States, the current trend towards protectionism and Brexit, many continue to see this region as one with a promise of growth. China has become a big player in the natural resources sector and Latin America is one of the targets for investment by Chinese companies. China exports manufactured goods to Latin America, and Latin America exports commodities to China. To some extent this could also result in an opportunity for more cooperation and innovation.
In Argentina, the mining industry represented approximately 3 per cent of the national GDP in 2018, a considerable increase in previous years. The trend indicates that the mining sector’s overall contribution to the country’s GDP will keep increasing as projects in the country portfolio start being developed and new funds from foreign direct investment are allocated to greenfield exploration. Total mining exports in 2018 accounted for US$308 million. The main target minerals are copper, gold, silver and lithium (an increasing trend worldwide regarding battery minerals has taken place in Argentina). Other targeted minerals include potash, iron, aluminium, uranium, boron, molybdenum lead, vanadium and zinc. Argentina is currently the third-largest producer of lithium in the world, and has the potential to become one of the biggest players; therefore, the interest in this mineral will continue to increase.
The mining industry has significant relevance to the economy of Brazil, accounting for approximately 4.2 per cent of Brazilian GDP in 2016. Since 2006, mineral exploitation has increased, reaching its production peak in 2011 with approximately US$53 billion generated in proceeds from mining activities. In 2017, Brazilian production reached US$25 billion, and the difference in comparison with 2011 is primarily owing to the decrease in mineral commodities prices, particularly iron ore, which accounts for three-quarters of Brazilian mineral production. Considering Brazil’s extensive territory, it holds a great geological diversity of metallic and non-metallic minerals, including some that have gained global relevance owing to recent technological breakthroughs (eg, lithium niobium and tantalite). However, the target minerals, according to the amount exported by Brazil in 2015 and 2016, are iron ore, bauxite, aluminium, niobium, copper, manganese, kaolin, gold and others. Rare-earth reserves have been actively prospected in Brazil, and if some projects in south-east Brazil become viable this will certainly increase the general interest in these minerals in Brazil.
In Chile, up to 2018, the mining sector was 10 per cent of GDP and 5.4 per cent of all occupations – the most important sector of the national economy. Considering the income from royalties and other general taxes and duties, this sector made a 7.8 per cent contribution to national revenues. Geographically and geologically, Chile has favourable conditions for mining activities. The main metallic target mineral is copper. However, there are several important projects concerning other minerals such as molybdenum, gold, silver, zinc, lead and iron. Regarding non-metallic minerals, the most significant are lithium and nitrate.
The quality and quantity of mineral resources in Ecuador is similar to Chile and Peru, even though most of its territory is still unexplored. It has some of the most attractive gold, silver and copper deposits in Latin America; nevertheless, production has been almost non-existent. There are many reasons for the delay in developing this industry, but the authors point to erred public policy regarding the mining industry and the absence of legal security. Currently, the target minerals in Ecuador are gold, silver and copper. However, there is a huge potential in other minerals such as lithium, rare earths, potash, iron, uranium and coal.
In Peru mining represents almost 10 per cent of GDP and 60 per cent of exports of the country. During the past decade, mining activity has had an important role in the Peruvian economy because it generates added value, higher foreign exchange and revenues for taxes, creates direct and indirect jobs, and has shown improvement in potential growth of economic activity, allowing the achievement of necessary and real social inclusion and promoting general welfare. Peru occupies a leading position in the global production of mineral commodities such as copper, zinc and silver (second), gold and lead (first in Latin America), molybdenum (fourth) and tin (third in Latin America).
Angola is one of the richest countries in the world in natural resources, with significant reserves of diamonds, iron ore, phosphates, copper, gold and manganese, among other valuable natural resources. However, its true mineral potential is yet to be unlocked and is unexplored, despite the significant exploration and mining projects already implemented, particularly in the diamond subsector. Once a major iron ore, gold and copper producer, Angola’s mineral development was greatly impaired after independence in 1975 (save for diamond mining) by almost 30 years of civil war, which ended in 2002. Angola has since resumed mineral mining. The strategic focus on the mining sector projects a substantial increase in diamond production, from 9 million carats in 2017 to 13.8 million carats in 2022, mostly driven by the recent commencement of several mining operations. In more recent years, target minerals continue to be diamonds, gold, iron ore, manganese and copper. There is a commitment to diversification of investment in industrial and construction mineral resources (eg, marble, granite and quartz).
The nature of the mining industry in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is mainly cobalt, coltan, copper, gold, diamonds, zinc, cassiterite and wolframite. The importance of the mining industry in the DRC is dominant since, despite several difficulties, the mining industry is still the backbone of the national economy, with a contribution of up to around 30 per cent of GDP. The target minerals are cobalt, copper, zinc, diamonds, gold, tin and manganese.
In Ghana the mining sector was the foremost source of direct domestic revenue mobilised by the Ghana Revenue Authority in 2017. Overall, the total mining fiscal receipts mobilised by the GRA increased by 31 per cent year-on-year, from US$320 million in 2016 to US$420 million in 2017. The total workforce employed by mining companies was 11,628 as at the end of 2016 as compared to 9,939 for 2015, indicating an increase of 16 per cent. The mining sector is also a crucial contributor to the attraction of investments into Ghana. The total investments in the sector within the past 10 years have been in excess of US$10 billion. The main minerals extracted in Ghana are gold, diamonds, bauxite and manganese. However, gold currently accounts for more than 90 per cent of mining sector revenue and activity (and accounts for approximately 97 per cent of all mineral receipts). There has been no increased interest in minerals used in battery technology or renewable energy in Ghana.
In Mozambique, mining is one of the principal drivers of the national economy and its contribution to the GDP continues to increase. Over the past few years, it has been developing a mineral export promotion programme, primarily aimed at augmenting its depleted foreign exchange reserves. Consequently, major industry players from Australia, Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa have acquired interests in various mining areas across the country, highlighting the significance of the mining sector. Mozambique is one of the largest producers of tantalite and beryllium. It also hosts one of the world’s largest aluminium smelters, with an installed capacity to produce 560,000 tonnes of aluminium ingot a year. Copper, iron ore, lead, high-grade bauxite, heavy mineral sands and titanium are important minerals in the central part of the country. The Mozambican province of Tete is known as one of the world’s largest coal reserves, although its level of production has decreased in recent years. Minerals used in battery technology, such as graphite and vanadium, have been catching investors’ attention as well as graphene, a derivative of graphite.
The mining sector of South Africa contributes roughly 7.3 per cent to GDP. South Africa has the world’s largest resources of platinum group metals, manganese, chromium, gold and alumino-silicates and accounts for more than 40 per cent of the global production of ferro-chromium, platinum group metals, vanadium and alumino-silicates exports, and is one of the world’s largest exporters of platinum group metals, gold and vanadium. In addition, South Africa has large deposits of copper, zinc, iron, coal and diamonds. It has approximately 70 per cent of the world’s high-grade manganese ore reserves. Manganese, which is primarily used in steel production, is also a key element in the production of lithium-ion batteries. Increased global demand for manganese resulted in a 32 per cent increase in manganese production in South Africa in 2017 and, in 2018, the country produced approximately 33.5 per cent of global manganese production.
Zambia has a long history of mining, predominantly in copper and cobalt. Historically, mine development has been concentrated in an area known as Copperbelt Province, which is renowned for its high-grade deposits. The country also hosts small-scale gold, coal, manganese and zinc deposits. In recent years, exploration has significantly expanded throughout Zambia to include prospecting for non-traditional minerals such as nickel and uranium, with some exploration for diamonds. The country’s first nickel mine became operational in 2008. Zambia is also renowned for its gemstones and ranks as one of the world’s leading producers of high-quality stones. Recent exploration work has also revealed the presence of significant deposits of coal-bed methane. The target minerals are mainly base metals, platinum group metals, uranium and gold. However, there has also been an increase in exploration applications for the mining of manganese, lead and zinc as well as cobalt, which are metals that are traditionally used for the development of battery technology.
Finland is one of the leading mining countries in Europe and the mining industry plays a crucial role there, along with its future growth potential. Mining activity is currently concentrated around gold, platinum group metals, base metals, diamonds and industrial minerals. In contrast to many other countries, Finland also has many high-class geological databases available on the internet. Finland’s mining production has doubled in the past decade. In 2018, the total amount extracted from Finnish mines grew to 130.1 million tonnes, of which 49 million tonnes constituted ore or usable minerals. Three of the biggest mines in Finland account for 84 per cent of all minerals. In 2018, Finnish mines invested 29 per cent more than in the previous year, making total investments of US$439 million. The whole mineral cluster (including the technology and service providers) provides employment for some 30,000 people. The following targeted minerals have good discovery potential in Finland – chromium, cobalt, copper, feldspar, limestone, lithium, nickel, niobium, platinum group metals, quartz, rare earth metals, talc, tellurium, titanium, vanadium and zinc.
In Sweden, mining has been of great importance throughout modern history, and ore production has been rising significantly in recent years. There are currently almost 100 companies with exploration permits active in the search for minerals, and the mining sector in Sweden employs approximately 6,000 people (excluding indirect jobs). Mines currently in operation produce iron ore, sulphide ore and gold, but other minerals can also be found in sufficiently large quantities. Sweden is by far the biggest producer of iron ore in the European Union and is also among the leading producers of copper, zinc, lead, gold and silver. Exploration for other minerals such as molybdenum, wolfram, vanadium, tellurium and lithium was of interest for some foreign prospectors. In 2016, a study was commissioned to provide an analysis regarding the available resources of innovation-critical raw materials (for use in the production of batteries in mobile phones and electric cars). As a result of the study, the Swedish government declared that Bergslagen in Sweden is one of the most interesting areas in the world regarding access to these kinds of materials.
The mining industry in the United Kingdom is made up of approximately 13,000 companies, accounting for roughly 0.5 per cent of all businesses. The UK’s extractive resources industry is dominated by energy minerals, such as oil, natural gas, and coal, which accounted for more than 92 per cent of revenues from all resources extracted in 2013, followed by industrial minerals such as potash, silica and china clay. Metallic minerals extracted from the UK also include metals such as copper, gold, silver and iron ore, etc, and industrial aggregates used for concrete and gravel in construction and road building. The UK mining sector is largely focused on mining activities outside the United Kingdom, although there has been something of a resurgence during the past few years in domestic development. The most mining within the United Kingdom is now concentrated on construction minerals, such as clay and shale, gypsum and slate. The United Kingdom produces many different types of minerals, although few in meaningful quantities. It does not currently produce the key minerals used in battery technology or renewable energy and currently has no plants to process them.
Asia and Australasia
The summary for Japan does not include a section on mining’s impact in the economy or target minerals. However, the description on Specified Minerals includes a summary on those minerals that are important to the country. The ‘Specified Mineral’ procedure is different from other types of minerals. With respect to a Specified Mineral, a tender bid must be conducted for each specified area to be designated by the government, whereby the most competitive applicant will be granted the mining right for such specified area. The Specified Minerals are – oil and combustible natural gas; gold ore, silver ore, copper ore, lead ore, bismuth ore, tin ore, antimony ore, mercury ore, zinc ore, iron ore, iron sulfide ore, manganese ore, tungsten ore, molybdenum ore, nickel ore, cobalt ore, uranium ore, thorium ore and barites, which constitute hydrothermal deposits located subsea or beneath the sea; copper ore, lead ore, zinc ore, iron ore, manganese ore, tungsten ore, molybdenum ore, nickel ore and cobalt ore, which constitute sedimentary deposits located subsea or beneath the sea; and asphalt.
Mining is an important economic activity in India – the country is one of the largest exporters of iron ore, chromite, bauxite, mica and manganese, and it is ranked fifth among the mineral-producing countries in terms of volume of production. The mining sector contributes nearly 2.4 per cent to India’s GDP. The government through its various public-sector companies continues to be the largest participant in the domestic mining industry. Much of India’s potential mineral resources are yet to be fully explored, and various reforms have been initiated by the government allowing for greater private sector participation in mineral exploration, mine development and maintenance. India produces nearly 88 minerals, which include fuel, atomic, metallic and non-metallic minerals. It is a leading producer of several metallic minerals such as chromite, iron ore, zinc, bauxite, manganese, aluminium and copper. Although there is a push to switch completely to electric vehicles by 2030, India does not have adequate reserves of some of the most important lithium-ion components including lithium, cobalt and nickel. There are reports that India is in the process of conducting talks for partnerships with Argentina, Bolivia and Chile for importing lithium at concessionary rates.
In Myanmar, as of February 2019, US$2.9 billion had been invested in 71 projects within Myanmar’s mining sector, accounting for 3.66 per cent of total foreign investment in the country. The government has set up various mining enterprises to form joint venture companies to enter into bilateral partnerships for exploration, development and exploitation. Myanmar has the largest jade deposits in the world, and its ruby deposits account for 90 per cent of the world’s supply. Other precious stones found include sapphire and diamonds. Copper is the largest mining export, but other mineral products are also widespread throughout the country, including gold, silver, lead, zinc, tin, tungsten, nickel and antimony. Certain mining activities may be prohibited based on the targeted mineral.
The Philippines has been ranked as the fifth most mineralised country in the world, with an estimated US$1 trillion in untapped reserves of copper, gold, nickel, zinc and silver. Despite this, as of 2018, there are only 48 operating metallic mines. For the same year the preliminary gross production value for large-scale metallic mining was US$2.4 billion). The Philippines’ top mineral exports are copper, gold and nickel. Other target minerals include quartz, mica, iron, gypsum, feldspar, chromite, calcite and sulphur. Some target non-metallic minerals are sand and gravel, limestone, marble, clay and other quarry materials. Cobalt is the main factor for the increased interest in minerals used in battery technology. The Philippines has the fourth-largest cobalt reserves worldwide, at an estimated 280,000 tonnes. The production value of mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide increased to US$510 million in 2018.
Thailand was formerly a major tin producer, but now produces mainly industrial minerals, including limestone, gypsum, rock salt, dolomite and basalt. The mining industry has been less active since the enactment of the new Minerals Act in 2017 with a policy to suspend gold mining, and issues regarding restriction on the use of agricultural land. Approximately 40 minerals are produced in the country and the most-produced target minerals in 2017 were industrial minerals and industrial rocks. During the past year, mining production for almost all minerals reduced with a few exceptions.
Uzbekistan’s mining industry is one of the country’s most important and strategic industries. It is one of the world’s largest producers of gold (ranked eighth) and uranium (ranked seventh). It also produces copper, silver, coal, phosphate, molybdenum, potassium, tungsten, lead, zinc and other minerals. The country’s regions focus on different minerals – Navoi province is famous for its large deposits of gold and uranium and Tashkent province for copper, coal and gold deposits.