Reports - Canada

Table of contents

1.0  Purpose

The purpose of this national summary is to provide an overview and analysis of the data contained in the Indian mineral inventory completed March 31 1990.

2.0 The Inventory

The inventory comprises 45 volumes including approximately 18,000 pages and 10,000 maps. The "Mineral Resource Potential of Indian Reserve Lands" report was completed to the Stage I (Literature Search) level for each Indian reserve in Canada. A Stage I inventory is defined as a review and record of all available material on the geology, geophysics, geochemistry, economic geology, and mineral operations of a reserve and its surrounding area. The minerals under discussion are grouped under five main headings: metallic, non-metallic, aggregate, water and peat.

2.1  The Regional Inventories

The "Mineral Resource Potential of Indian Reserves Lands" report was compiled according to the geographic boundaries of the provinces and territories and not according to the boundaries of the 9 DIAND regions. The rationale is that the inventory is a geographic or geologic database not an administrative manual. A database and a "User's Guide" have been developed to assist users in understanding and utilizing the information contained in the inventory.

3.0  The Indian Reserve Land Base in Canada

The inventory comprises geoscientific information on 2267 Indian reserves. Total land base of these 2267 reserves is approximately 2.6 million hectares or 0.2 percent of the total land area of Canada.

The table below summarizes the Indian reserve and land statistics contained in the inventory:

Region BANDS RESERVES LAND BASE (ha) AVE AREA (ha)
Atlantic 32 68 29,561.6 434
Quebec 26 31 77,131.5 2488
Ontario 113 189 709,985.8 3756
Manitoba 53 104 214,803.7 2065
Sask. 69 143 616,815.9 4313
Alberta 40 100 668,880.1 6688
B.C. 200 1606 353,324.2 217
NWT 1 2 562.1 281
Yukon 7 24 499.6 83
TOTALS 551 2267 2,671,564.5 1176

4.0  The Mineral Inventory Database

For each Indian reserve contained in the inventory, a computer data record sheet has been prepared which captures up to 51 descriptive items of information summarizing the geographical and mineral characteristics. This record of mineral potential and current activities on reserves can be aggregated to a band, regional or national level for statistical evaluation.

The following is a summary of information contained in the inventory for a preliminary evaluation of the Indian mineral resource potential in Canada. Two systems of rating have been developed to provide means to assess mineral potential: an individual commodity rating and an overall reserve rating. Each addresses a different perspective of potential and when used together aid in accurately assessing a realistic mineral potential for a reserve.

4.1  Overall Ratings

A 3-point scale (low-moderate-good) rates the mineral potential for economic development of each reserve as a whole. Factors which affect this rating are: size of the reserve; quantity and quality of the minerals; location with respect to markets, transportation, access; value and type of commodity; social and cultural barriers to mining on certain lands and areas; marketability of a commodity at any given time, etc.

A moderate or good rating implies that some indication of mineral potential is present. More geoscientific work on such reserves is indicated to validate the preliminary assessment and determine whether a specific reserve can be proven to have a mineable deposit.

Reserves have been rated for their mineral resource potential as follows:

Region Overall Rating
  LOW MODERATE GOOD
Atlantic 46 19 3
Quebec 19 9 3
Ontario 82 69 38
Manitoba 65 27 12
Sask. 87 47 9
Alberta 73 20 7
B.C. 1194 356 56
NWT 1 1 0
Yukon 15 5 4
CANADA 1582 553 132

4.2  Commodity Ratings With Potential

A total of 3276 mineral occurrences on reserves have been identified from all five commodity or mineral types (metallic, non-metallic, aggregate, peat and water). The list comprises nearly 120 different minerals and commodities.

The commodity rating is an evaluation, on a clearly defined scale from 1 (very low) to 5 (very high), of the potential of a mineral or commodity as an economic opportunity in terms of its geology, type, location, marketability, etc., based on the available information. Since it is impossible to determine the likelihood of a mine for a given mineral occurrence, the scale is structured to measure the sum of the favourable evidence as an indicator of the potential. This view is valid when one understands that merely the search for minerals (exploration) is an economic opportunity for bands in light of the very low chance of locating a mine. This estimate is based on data collected from many sources and considers a wide area surrounding the reserves. A known mineral occurrence on a reserve with poor geological characteristics may be given a low rating, conversely a commodity as yet unproven to be on reserve may be rated very highly based on evidence of an adjacent deposit off-reserve.

In order to gauge more accurately the existing opportunities in minerals, the following analysis examines those reserves with commodities rated at 3, 4 or 5 on the scale of one to five (where one is very low potential and 5 is very high):

  • The number of reserves possessing at least one commodity, rated at 3 or greater, is 317. These 317 reserves share a total of 596 commodity occurrences.
  • Of the 596 occurrences, 265 (44%) are metallic minerals; 331 (56%) are non-metallic, aggregate, or other minerals/mineral types.
  • Of the approximately 537 bands identified in the inventory, 210 are highlighted as having significant mineral potential (greater than 3 on the commodity scale of 1 to 5).

4.3  Reserves at the Exploration Phase

The search for minerals and their exploitation can be considered in three phases: exploration, development and production. The exploration phase groups the myriad activities which are necessary in the detection, evaluation and measurement of deposits of minerals.

The mineral inventory report is the equivalent of Exploration Phase Stage I (literature search), which has been completed. The number of reserves in all Regions which have undergone some form of subsequent exploration activity beyond Stage I is:

Exploration Stage Non-Metallic Metallic Aggregate Peat Water
Stage II - Reconnaissance 80 52 219 7 19
Stage III - Testing 58 38 185 3 10
Stage IV - Drilling 24 15 30 0 0
Stage V - Feasibility 7 9 21 1 0
ALL STAGES 169 113 455 11 29

4.4  Reserves at the Development Phase

This phase is the step in the progression between exploration and production of a specific mineral deposit where the land and orebody is prepared for the actual mining operations. Activities may range from tree cutting, fencing, and stripping of topsoil to detailed drilling programs, shaft and adit sinking, open pit excavations, etc.

Many reserves have experienced some form of development work related to their mineral resources. Some of those have been proven to have little or no mineral potential as a result of information derived from such work, or work was discontinued due to outside influences such as company failures or dropping markets.

The number of reserves deemed to have had some activity at the development phase is as follows:

Region Metallic Non-metallic Aggregate Water Peat
Atlantic 0 0 0 0 0
Quebec 0 1 0 0 0
Ontario 7 0 0 0 0
Manitoba 0 0 1 0 0
Sask. 1 0 4 0 0
Alberta 0 4 7 0 0
B.C. 16 16 44 0 0
NWT 0 0 0 0 0
Yukon 0 0 0 0 0
CANADA 24 21 56 0 0

4.5  Reserves at the Production Phase

Production phase refers to the actual extraction of material or mineral by any mining process, past or present, which is stockpiled, used on or sold off-reserve.

The number of reserves at the production phase is listed below. These figures consider any form of extraction of minerals for sale on or off reserve and includes cases of production of materials with a low commodity rating. It is noteworthy that many small gravel pits operate for local use (roads, construction, etc.) and are not included in this database.

Region Metallic Non-metallic Aggregate Water Peat
Atlantic 0 0 0 1 1
Quebec 0 0 0 0 1
Ontario 0 2 28 0 0
Manitoba 1 1 7 0 0
Sask. 1 0 0 7 0
Alberta 0 5 12 0 0
B.C. 11 13 49 0 0
NWT 0 0 0 0 0
Yukon 0 0 0 0 0
CANADA 13 21 113 1 2

5.0  Key Indian Mineral Facts

The inventory records 3276 separate mineral occurrences on the 2267 Indian reserves.

Of 3276 mineral occurrences, 596 are considered to be of significant interest (rated 3 or greater on a scale of 1 to 5), 265 for metallic and 331 for non-metallic minerals.

Nationally, 317 Indian reserves have one or more mineral commodity rated at 3 or greater on the scale of from 1 to 5.

Since 1900, 609 reserves have undergone some level of exploration activity for non-metallic minerals at Stages II to V.

Mineral production from mining in some form is known to have occurred on 150 Indian reserves. Actual figures for revenues, royalties and volumes of production are available only for only those most recent permits where monitoring has been possible.

Rating all 2267 Indian reserves' characteristics and mineral potential overall, 553 reserves are considered to have moderate potential for mineral development, 132 are considered to have good, or the highest rating overall.

44% of Indian reserves in Ontario are located within the Greenstone Belt, which alone accounted for approximately $7B worth of mineral production in 1989.

6.0  Mineral Surrenders

The Indian Lands Registry indicates that 136 reserves have surrendered their minerals. Generally, sand and gravel, stone, peat and water do not require a surrender, whereas metallic substances such as gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc do. In Canada, minerals have frequently been combined with petroleum, oil and gas in a broad general form of surrender.

Different federal/provincial regimes affect the surrender of minerals because of outstanding mineral ownership issues. Where the ownership is claimed by a province, the minerals may revert to the province when they are surrendered. In these provinces, this issue is a strong disincentive for affected bands considering mineral development on their lands.

Surrenders are also unpopular because of the reluctance that bands have to participate in "surrenders" with the unpopular connotations associated with that word. The scarcity of mineral developments requiring surrenders is due to such factors as poor knowledge base, confusion and disincentives relating to ownership of the mineral rights, and a lack of a means or mechanisms to effectively take advantage of mineral opportunities as they arise.

7.0  Mineral Permits and Leases on Indian Lands

The Indian Lands Registry has recorded 564 mineral related permits, leases and/or agreements since record keeping was begun. Of these, approximately 80 were for non-metallic minerals, 2 for metallic minerals, 346 for aggregates and 139 did not state the commodity type (some incorporating more than one type of minerals).

Regional breakdown for mineral permits, leases and/or agreements is as follows:

Region Number
Atlantic 20
Quebec 13
Ontario 182
Manitoba 16
Sask. 25
Alberta 63
B.C. 245
NWT 0
Yukon 0
CANADA 564

Since 1985, 47 Permits or Leases have been issued for the development of mineral resources on Indian reserves, 43 in western Canada. In 1989 and 1990 there were 6 and 2 respectively. Up to 6 more Permits are in negotiation or planning at any given time.

As illustrated in the above diagram, when averaged on a national basis 72% of mineral agreements are undertaken by the private sector, 14% by provincial governments, 6% by municipalities, 3% by bands, and federal organizations participated in only 1% of agreements. Three percent of the total number of registry entries were undetermined.

7.1  Mineral Revenues

At the present time there are 16 current or outstanding Permits or Leases for the exploration or sale and removal of mineral products from Indian reserves in Canada. Fifteen of these identify aggregate or non-metallic minerals as the commodity in question and one identifies a metallic mineral (uranium).

The royalties paid to Indian bands by companies providing financial statements for these 16 Permits and Leases over their entire terms up to the date of this report is $2,592,311.40. A further $1,236,599.00 is estimated for which financial statements were not available, for a total of $3,834,910.4.

8.0  Indian Bands and the Mining Industry

While development of mineral resources on Indian lands holds the potential to create many jobs in the future, a source of employment which must be tapped is with private sector mining activities off reserve.

52 reserves are situated within 10 kilometres of the 385 principle industrial mineral and metallic mineral mines. Approximately 802 reserves (36%) are situated within 50 kilometres (an easy commuting distance) of those same 385 principle industrial mineral and metallic mineral mines. These mines each employ on national average 479 workers for a total of nearly 182,000 direct jobs. Using the Employment Equity figure of 2.8 percent approximately 5100 of these jobs should be held by Natives . This figure is low when one considers the true nature of the typical remote mining community with comparatively higher local native populations. Presently approximately 2600 natives are employed by the mines based on a 1986 figure.

9.0  Conclusion

Half of all Indian bands in this country could benefit from the economic development opportunities resulting from the exploration and development of mineral resources on or near their lands. These opportunities may be translated in terms of income from permits and leases, joint ventures, spin-off businesses such as trucking, catering or prospecting, self or full time employment, new training initiatives and career development.

Total mineral exploration expenditures in Canada was between $750 and $850 million in 1990. This sector has the potential to be a major contributor to the economic growth of First Nations.

October 1991

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