Canada is one of the world's top gold producers, after South Africa, the USA and Australia. Canada produced 140,529 kg of gold in 2003 from 330 gold mines which accounted for more than 90% of production. Several of Canada's gold mines have closed as a result of the low gold price and exhausted ore reserves. Remaining production came from placer workings and base metal by products.
The low price of gold and the depletion of reserves are responsible for the closure of nine mining operations over the past two years. By the end of 2002, there were only about 30 mines remaining in Canada; 10 years earlier, there were more than 50. This decrease in the number of operations is forecast to continue for a few years with 8-10 other mines expected to cease operations by 2005 when their economic reserves are depleted. The lost production resulting from these closures is not expected to exceed 5 t of gold and could be compensated for by the expansion and resumption of production at existing mines. Gold produced in Canada comes primarily from gold mines, which account for 92.5% of the total. The remainder is produced by base-metal (6%) and placer (1.5%) mines. Almost 90% of Canadian gold mines are underground operations where productivity is relatively high, which keeps production costs among the lowest in the world.
Several major mining companies are actively producing gold from Canada, including Placer Dome, Barrick and TVX Newmont Americas (TVXNA). Other major producers are Miramar Mining, Kinross Gold, Newmont and Cambior. Gold is also produced as a by product from most of the base metal mines in Canada. The merger between Barrick and Homestake produced one of the world's largest gold mining companies.
Placer Dome operates the Campbell, Dome and Musselwhite gold mines, all of them situated in Ontario. Placer Dome is a sole owner and operator for all these operations, excepting the Musselwhite Mine, in which TVX Newmont Americas has a 32% interest. The Dome mine has been in production since 1910. In 2002, Placer Dome signed an agreeement with Kinross gold over the joining of the two companies operations in the Porcupine camp that includes the Dome mine. Placer Dome's 100% owned Campbell mine produced 178 100 oz gold in 2001, with production topping 180 000 oz in 2002. Musselwhite and Campbell anticipate producing more than 2 Moz of gold over their respective mine lives. Apart from the interest in Placer Domes Musselwhite Mine, TVXNA also has a 50% share in the New Britannia Gold Mine located north of Winnipeg in Manitoba. High River Gold Mines hold the remaining 50%. Production began in 1996 and produced 114 500 oz of gold in 2001.
The wholly owned Troilus Mine in Quebec is Inmet Mining Corporations only gold copper operation in North America. Troilus has proven and probable reserves estimated at 49 Mt grading at 1 g/t gold and 0.1 % copper that should provide the mine with a life of approximately 9 years.
Barrick operates several gold mines, the Bousquet Mine in Quebec, the Holt McDermott and Hemlo Mines in Ontario as well as the Eskay Creek Gold mine in B.C. Hemlo comprises two separate mines, the Williams and David Bell Mines.
Canadian gold producer and explorer, Aurizon has most of its activities focused on the Abitibi region of north-western Québec, one of the world's most prolific gold and base metal regions. Aurizon operates and owns 50% of the Sleeping Giant Mine as well as 100% of the Casa Berardi Mine. The Sleeping Giant Mine in which Cambior own the remaining 50%. An ongoing feasibility study at Casa Berardi indicates an annula gold production of 200 000 oz proven and probable reserves of 6.9 Mt grading at an average of 6.7 g/t or 1.5 Moz gold. The Beaufor Mine has increased its ore reserves by 15% by locating further extensions to its primary orebody. Aurizon sold its 50% interest to Louvem Mines, who own the remaining 50% of Beaufor. Louvem's majority shareholder is Richmont Mines, another major producer in the Quebec region. The sale also included Aurizon's 100% interest in the neigbouring Perron gold deposit.
Cambior used to be a major Canadian gold and base metals producer, but has subsequently sold two of its Canadian base metal mines, Langlois and Bouchard - Hebert in Quebec, to Breakwater Resources. However, it has retained its core assets, comprising two gold mining operations in Quebec. Apart from the Sleeping Giant mine, which it co owns with Aurizon Mines, it operates the Doyon Division comprising the Doyon and Mouska mines which is one of Canadas largest gold producers.
Miramar Mining Corporation operates the Con and Giant Mines near Yellowknife, Nunavut. As resources are exhausted at the Con and Giant operations, production is expected to decline during 2003 and 2004. Miramar and its wholly owned subsidiary Miramar Hope Bay Ltd. Have a joint venture with Hope Bay Gold Corporation Inc. in evaluating the 80km long Hope Bay Archean greenstone belt. Three principal deposits have been identified to date, including the Boston, Doris (North and Central) and Madrid deposits that have measured and indicated resources estimated at containing some 1.4 Moz of gold.
Kinross Gold owns and operates the Hoyle Pond Mine near Timmins, Ontario. Echo Bay Mines has reopened the Lupin Mine in Nunavut based on stronger gold prices. Newmont Mining Corporation operates two large gold mines in Ontario.
South African producer, Harmony Gold Mining Company, operates the troubled Bissett mine that has been placed on care and maintenance.
Agnico Eagle operates one of Canada's largest underground gold mines at its LaRonde gold mine located in the Cadillac Belt, northwestern Quebec. Agnico intend increasing production by 40% over the next few years with gold production set to reach nearly 400 000 oz in 2004. The mine has reserves and resources totaling nearly 8 Moz gold and intends producing 230 000 oz gold in 2001.
Goldcorp's Red Lake Mine situated in Ontario opened in January 2001 and has established itself as one of Canada's highest grade underground gold mines. New proven and probable reserve estimates have been calculated at 3.8 Moz gold, up 25% from previous estimates.
Cumberland Resources are evaluating the Meadowbank gold project located near Baker Lake in Nunavut. Meadowbank has been classed as one of Canada's largest unexploited gold deposits that contains a resource of some 2.5 Moz, of which more than 80% is amenable to open pit extraction.