Canadian Overview Canada has a total area of approximately 10 million square kilometers, a coastline of some 243,800 kilometers, and a population approaching 32 million people, mostly centered in or near major metropolitan areas. Additional information, statistics, and economic data are collated by the Government of Canada’s online Canadian overview Canada at a Glance.
The roots of mining in Canada go back over 6000 years, to the trading of native copper mined in the Lake Superior area. This first mining activity, nothing more than excavation of simple pits, was carried out by the First Nations people who used the copper they produced to fashion tools and jewelry and trade with neighboring tribes.
Jump ahead 5000 years to 998 A.D. and the easternmost shore of L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland where the Vikings were the first Europeans to mine in Canada.
Current mining commenced in the mid-to-late 1600’s in New Brunswick with the extraction and export of coal. Other milestones in Canadian mining history include:
1729 - first smelting of iron at the Forges du St. Maurice, Trois-Rivières, Quebec
The greater part of Canada is the Precambrian shield, a region of rock comprising the central portion of the country. It is over 2.5 billion years old. The majority of the shield consists of granitic rocks and gneiss laced with greenstone volcanic belts and broader areas of sedimentary rocks
The shield is surrounded by three orogenic (mountain) belts:
The Appalachian belt runs the length of the eastern seaboard of the country. It was the result of a continental collision 475-375 million years ago.
The Innuitian belt in the arctic islands was attached around 400 million years ago.
The Cordillera comprises the western portion of the country. It is the result of collisions of continental and oceanic fragments over the last 180 million years, and continuing to the present.
The shield, or more particularly the greenstone belts of the shield, are the host of base and precious metals deposits. It is the only area in the country that hosts diamond - bearing kimberlite pipes. In northwestern Saskatchewan and northeastern Alberta, the Athabasca basin contains the majority of the country’s uranium reserves with the largest high grade deposit in the world currently being mined at McArthur River.
The Geological Survey of Canada has databases for major metallic mineral deposits on a Canada-wide and world-wide scale. The latest phase of database compilation, World Minerals Geoscience Database Project has an interactive mapping tool for plotting Canada’s mineral deposits against the country’s geology. The Atlas of Canadamaps plot the location of active base and previous metal mines and production facilities and the location of current diamond exploration and known kimberlites.