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Charting a Course – Mining

On an intake basis, the mining sector is a very small water user, accounting for just 1% of national water intake in 2005. This sector includes coal, metal ore, and non-metallic mineral mining. Water is used to cool drill bits, separate ore from the mined rock, wash the extracted ore, and remove any unwanted material. The mining sector has one of the highest recirculation rates of all sectors. Statistics Canada indicates that the mining sector actually returns more water to the environment than it extracts, due to the discharge of water that accumulates on the mine site, often due to interception of groundwater.

Overall, water intake has been trending downward in mining, as the sector has steadily reduced its intake from 1981 to 2005, with the exception of an increase in 1996. However, the sector reduced its intake from 1996 to 2005 by 33%. Over the same period, the value of production rose by about 48%, which translates into a significant drop in water-use intensity for the mining sector. All mining subsectors show decreased water-use intensity since 1981. While the trend is down, there has been some variation such as that observed between 1996 and 2005. Economic output for all the subsectors increased from 1981 to 2005. As a result, water-use intensity fell overall from 1981 to 2005 in all subsectors despite an observed intensity increase in 1996.

Figure 14: Water Intake, Economic Output, and Water-Use Intensity in Mining

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Select a natural resource sector below to see its water use, including water intensity, water intake, and economic output.
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 Pulp and Paper
Oil and Gas
Thermal Electricity