Mineral exploration and production values and commodities
Learn more about our mining exploration and production activities and commodities.
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Mineral exploration values
Ontario is a world-class mining jurisdiction and is among the top 10 jurisdictions in the world for mineral exploration spending. Ontario is one of the leading producers of gold, nickel and platinum group elements.
In 2021, gold was the most sought-after mineral in Ontario, with exploration spending of $626 million totaling 71% of the province’s total exploration spending.
Exploration spending in 2021
|Location||Exploration spending ($ million)||Percentage (%)|
|Off mine site||211||24|
|On mine site||667||76|
Exploration spending by mineral
|Mineral||Exploration spending ($ million)||Percentage (%)|
|Co, Li & other||26||3|
Exploration spending by critical mineral type
Ontario is well-positioned to be a global supplier of critical minerals with its vast supply of minerals, processing capabilities and world-class mining supply and services sector.
|Mineral||Exploration spending ($ million)||Percentage (%)|
|Platinum group elements||36||15|
|Other critical minerals*||57||23|
Note: Data has been aggregated to preserve confidentiality, numbers may not add up due to rounding.
Source: Natural Resources Canada
Mining lands activity
As of December 31, 2021, there are 317,426 active mining claims in Ontario.
You can acquire and register mining claims, obtain or renew a prospector’s licence and maintain your mining lands online 24/7 through the Mining Lands Administration System (MLAS).
World’s largest mining capital market: TSX & TSX-V
Toronto, Ontario is the mining finance capital of the world.
The Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and Toronto Venture Exchange (TSX-V) list more mining companies than any other exchange with over 1,150 listed in 2021. The Toronto Stock Exchange and Toronto Venture Exchange are first among exchanges worldwide in equity capital raised and are home to about 43% of the public mining companies in the world.
Mineral production values
Ontario is one of Canada’s top mineral producers, generating $11.1 billion worth of minerals in 2021 – representing 20% of Canada’s total mineral production value.
Gold production in Ontario
Valued at $5.8 billion, Ontario produced 99,793 kilograms of gold in 2021.
Gold production in Canada
In 2021, 42% of Canada’s total gold production came from Ontario.
Critical mineral production and exploration
The Ring of Fire, in the Far North of Ontario, has the second largest chromite deposit globally in terms of tonnes of ore resources.
In 2021, Ontario produced an estimated 1,131 tonnes of by-product cobalt worth $53 million, making up 27% of Canada’s cobalt production.
Copper produced in Ontario in 2021 totaled 23% of Canada’s copper production by value with 127,148 tonnes valued at $1,018 million.
Ontario has several active graphite exploration programs.
Ontario has several hard-rock lithium deposits that are being actively explored in the hopes of eventually supplying raw materials for electric vehicle batteries.
In 2021, Ontario produced 48,675 tonnes of nickel valued at $758 million (29% of Canada’s nickel production by value).
Platinum Group Elements (PGE)
Ontario has exploration potential for vanadium exploration in the northwest.
Chromite is the major ore mineral of chromium.
Chromium is the stainless in stainless steel and is used in many manufacturing processes because of its resistance to rust, shiny appearance and very high melting point.
Current estimates suggest the Ring of Fire has multi-generational potential of chromite production and significant potential production of nickel, copper and platinum.
Map of chromite occurrences in Ontario
|1||Blackbird 1 and 2|
|3||Big Daddy Chromite|
|7||Chrome Lake Mine|
An estimated 1,131 tonnes of by-product cobalt worth $53 million were produced in Ontario in 2021 amounting to 27% of Canada’s cobalt production by value.
115,440 tonnes of cobalt have been produced in Ontario between 1904 and 2021.
Cobalt is a critical element in lithium-ion batteries and other clean technologies. Demand for this strategic commodity is expected to increase in the coming years as the market for electric vehicles grows.
The town of Cobalt, Ontario, known for its significant historical silver and cobalt production, is a national heritage site and is considered the birthplace of Canadian hard-rock mining.
Map of cobalt occurrences in Ontario
|SI||Shebandowan Inco Mine|
|R||Redstone & McWatters Mines|
|L||Lac des Iles|
Gold is the most sought-after mineral in Ontario, topping the charts with exploration spending of $626 million or 71% of the province’s total exploration spending in 2021.
In 2021, 3.2 million troy ounces of gold valued at $5.8 billion were produced in Ontario totalling 42% of Canada’s gold production by value.
Ontario is home to 18 producing gold mines and 13 advanced exploration gold projects.
With three gold mines recently opened and more than 30 mineral deposits each having more than 500,000 troy ounces of gold (measured and indicated resources inclusive of reserves) located in traditional camps and beyond, Ontario has plenty of resources for the future.
Map of gold occurrences in Ontario
Ontario has several advanced exploration projects and active graphite exploration programs.
The Black Donald Mine, located approximately 100 kilometres southwest of Ottawa, produced 77,000 tonnes of graphite between 1896 and 1954 which is approximately 75% of Ontario’s graphite production to date.
Graphite has been used traditionally in high-temperature lubricants, electrical motors and batteries. New uses are being discovered for graphite including lithium-ion batteries, solar power and electric vehicles.
Demand for this strategic commodity is expected to increase as the market for batteries to power electric vehicles and other clean technologies grows.
Map of graphite occurrences in Ontario
|3||Bissett Creek (Northern Graphite Corp.)|
|6||Black Donald Graphite|
|7||Meadow Lake Zone|
|9||N.A. Timmins Graphite|
Lithium is found in most battery-operated items, such as smartphones, portable computers and electric vehicles.
Lithium is also used in glass and ceramics to increase strength and durability, especially at high temperatures.
Demand for this strategic commodity is expected to increase in the coming years as the market for batteries that power electric vehicles and other clean technologies grows.
Ontario has hard-rock lithium deposits that are being explored actively.
Map of lithium occurrences in Ontario
|1||Big Whopper (Separation Rapids)|
|7||Nama Creek (Georgia Lake area)|
|7||McVittie (Georgia Lake area)|
|7||Jean Lake (Georgia Lake area)|
|7||Aumacho (Georgia Lake area)|
|7||Vegan (Georgia Lake area)|
|7||Jackpot (Georgia Lake area)|
|8||North Aubry (Seymour Lake)|
|8||South Aubry (Seymour Lake)|
Nickel, copper, platinum group elements (Ni-Cu-PGE)
In 2021, 48,675 tonnes of nickel valued at $758 million were produced in Ontario, amounting to 29% of Canada’s nickel production by value.
Nickel is an important metal used in the manufacturing of stainless steel, high-strength alloys, aerospace components and construction materials.
Copper produced in Ontario in 2021 totalled 127,148 tonnes valued at $1,018 million, amounting to 23% of Canada’s copper production by value.
The average home contains approximately 181.4 kilograms of copper that is used for electrical wiring, pipes and appliances.
Platinum Group Elements (PGE)
PGE include platinum (Pt), palladium (Pd), rhodium (Rh), ruthenium (Ru), iridium (Ir) and osmium (Os).
In 2021, 508,453 troy ounces of PGE valued at $1,213 million were produced in Ontario, totalling 67% of Canada’s PGE production by value.
Platinum and palladium are essential elements in the production of catalytic converters, medical and dental equipment, as well as jewelry.
Map of nickel, copper, platinum group elements occurrences in Ontario
|3||Lac Des Iles Mine|
|10||Temagami Copper Mine|
Vanadium is used in the production of steel to add strength and heat resistance. Approximately 80% of all vanadium produced goes into making steel. Ontario has hard-rock vanadium deposits that are being actively explored.
Demand for this strategic commodity is expected to increase in the coming years. This is due to the market growth for liquid vanadium redox-flow batteries that can store large amounts of power generated by solar and wind farms and other clean technologies.
Map of vanadium occurrences in Ontario
For more information about Ontario’s mineral resources:
- footnote Back to paragraph Base metals include: copper, nickel and zinc.
- footnote Back to paragraph Platinum Group Elements (PGE) include platinum (Pt), palladium (Pd), rhodium (Rh), ruthenium (Ru), iridium (Ir) and osmium (Os).
- footnote Back to paragraph Other critical minerals include the remaining minerals on the Ontario critical minerals list.