Review of the year 2021 in the mining industry: new mineral sectors emerge while traditional sectors continue to perform well

Québec City, December 14, 2021 – Despite ongoing public health measures and strict controls, Québec’s mining industry continued its strong performance in 2021, in particular thanks to the high prices that prevailed in the gold and iron sectors. This is one of the key findings in the annual review of the Québec Mining Association (QMA).

The year 2021 began in the same way as 2020 ended, with the main focus on complying with the measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 on mine sites. It is clear that this effort was worthwhile, since only a few cases were reported and no facilities had to close down.

Gold and iron continue their strong performance

The momentum observed in mining companies in the gold and iron sectors is reflected in their announcements of investments and new projects. For example, Canadian Malartic Partnership obtained the financing needed to begin work on the Odyssey Mine in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, while Yamana Gold continued to develop the Wasamac Project, also in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region and Falco Resources pushed ahead with its Horne 5 project.

In the Nord-du-Québec region, Osisko Mining continued drilling work on its Windfall project, currently one of the most promising in Québec. The Côte-Nord region was also active, thanks to Québec Iron Ore, which is still planning to enlarge its mine at Lac Bloom and ArcelorMittal Mining Canada, which announced an investment of $205 million in November to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at its Port-Cartier plant.

The emergence of critical and strategic minerals

A review of mining in 2021 would not be complete without mentioning the increasingly prominent role played by critical and strategic minerals (CSMs) in the public debate, in particular because of their importance in the energy transition and transportation electrification. Sayona Québec has been extremely active to extend its portfolio of lithium projects, mainly in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, in particular by purchasing the assets of North American Lithium.

The mining industry has also had an economic impact in the Centre-du-Québec region, where two companies began work in 2021 to build a processing plant in Bécancour. Nouveau Monde Graphite will install its graphite purification facility and its plant to manufacture lithium-ion battery anode material, while Nemaska Lithium will build a plant to transform spodumene concentrate into lithium hydroxide for the manufacturing of electric vehicle batteries.

Québec in a stronger position on the world stage

In March, the Fraser Institute signalled that Québec is in a strong position to attract exploration expenditure, ranking it 6th worldwide as the best place to invest, a jump of 12 places compared to 2020. Despite Québec’s strong overall performance, a more detailed analysis of the results shows room for improvement on several aspects surveyed, including uncertainty over land claims (from 18th in 2020 to 42nd in 2021) and taxation (from 26th in 2020 to 27th in 2021). These are two issues that the QMA has continued to defend throughout the year to ensure that Québec remains competitive compared to other mining jurisdictions in Canada and around the world.

The focus on gold continues

According to the most recent data published in November by the Institut de la statistique du Québec, gold remains the most sought-after metal in Québec. Around 80% of exploration expenditure concerns this precious metal, or $440 million out of a total of $534 million.

What lies ahead in 2022?

The enthusiasm seen in 2021 is expected to continue into 2022, since forecasts show an increase in investment and exploration expenditure. CSMs should maintain their popularity, since the Québec government has placed them at the centre of its economic recovery plans. Québec has everything needed to become a world leader, and both the industry and the government are ready to defend its position.

However, the QMA hopes that traditional metals (iron, gold, nickel, zinc, etc.) will not be overlooked in Québec government strategies, because the mining companies concerned are and will remain those that generate most of the industry’s economic benefits. They pay almost all the royalties received by the government, and employ the most workers.

« Through its resilience and ability to adapt, Québec’s mining industry has been able to thrive in recent months. Mining companies have maintained the jobs of thousands of workers, contributed to the economic recovery and ensured the vitality of Québec’s regions. We can be proud of the leadership shown by the mining sector. »

« More than ever before, the mining industry in Québec is part of the solution when it comes to ensuring the energy transition and transportation electrification, in which all modern states are involved. It is essential to seize opportunities now, without ignoring the concerns of local populations and environmental considerations. The mining companies active in Québec are aware of this and the expertise they have developed makes Québec’s mining projects some of the greenest and most respectful in the world. The year 2022 will be important if Québec is to confirm its leadership on the world stage. »

– Josée Méthot, President and CEO of the Québec Mining Association QMA president and CEO

About the Québec Mining Association

The Québec Mining Association (QMA) was founded in 1936 and speaks proactively for mining companies involved in exploration, extraction and processing, mining contractors and junior mining companies, along with suppliers, institutions, non-profit organizations and other mining sector partners. It is proud of the 48,006 jobs and total expenditure of $9.9 billion generated by Québec’s mining industry in 2018, based on the most recent data. The QMA’s mission is to promote, support and proactively develop a responsible, committed and innovative mining industry in Québec.