Québec is a major player in the global market for metallic and non-metallic minerals. The Fraser Institute ranks Québec among the world’s ten regions with the greatest mineral potential. Québec is the fifth most important after Nevada, Alberta, Manitoba, and Australia.
Moreover, Québec’s mineral production is highly diversified. According to Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles, in 2013 Québec was the most diversified mining producer in Canada, producing and processing 30 different minerals (17 metallic and 13 non-metallic minerals), ahead of Ontario with 27 and British Columbia with 23.
In the next section you will learn more about Québec’s metallic, non-metallic, and high-tech minerals and how to differentiate them.
Minerals composed of valuable metals and metallic chemical elements are commonly referred to as "metallic minerals." They are the most important mineral resource in Québec, accounting for about 75% of the province's mineral production.
The main metals mined in Québec, such as gold, iron, copper, and zinc, are obtained by processing ores and concentrates from this category. Cobalt and nickel are also mined.
Non-metallic minerals, also called “industrial minerals”, refer to mineral or organic substances with physical or chemical properties that make them suitable for industrial uses, products, or procedures. In Québec, industrial minerals are the second most important mineral resource.
Graphite, ilmenite (or titanium dioxide), mica, and salt account for a large part of the industrial minerals mined in Québec.
Who says you don’t find diamonds in Québec! In recent years geologists have unearthed promising prospects, mainly in the Nord-du-Québec region.
Within the next few years the Renard Project will become Québec’s first diamond mine. The diamonds extracted from this mine will be mainly used to make jewellery.
High-tech and rare metals
Rare metals are also known as strategic metals or high-tech metals. Some examples in this category include lithium, niobium, tantalum, beryllium, zirconium, hafnium, germanium, gallium, rare earth metals (numbering fifteen), as well as yttrium and scandium.
Usually these are non-ferrous metals used in small quantities, along with other metals and chemical substances, to manufacture industrial compounds.
There are a number of rare earth deposits in Québec but only one is currently being mined, the Niobec Mine with its niobium deposit. Niobium is mainly used to manufacture alloys for the aerospace industry. The Niobec Mine is located in Saint-Honoré in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region.
Minerals in our everyday life!
Have you ever wondered what your life would be like without minerals and metals? Minerals and metals are used to manufacture many products and consumer goods we use in our daily lives.
Did you know that we each consume about 1,450 tons of minerals, metals, and gasoline in the course of our life? The following are examples of minerals used in everyday products:
- Cobalt is used to manufacture turbine engines and dental prosthesis alloys.
- Copper is used to manufacture materials used in electrical circuits and plumbing.
- Iron is used by the construction and transportation industries.
- Graphite goes into the manufacture of pencils and sports equipment such as golf clubs and hockey sticks.
- Ilmenite (titanium oxide) is part of the white pigment used by the paint industry and the medical prosthesis manufacturing industry.
- Mica is used to make electrical and thermal insulation.
- Nickel is used to manufacture stainless steel consumer goods, batteries, and coins.
- Gold is used to make jewellery, coins, and electrical equipment.
- Salt (halite) is used to de-ice roads.
- Zinc is an ingredient in many body care products (soap, shampoo, sunscreen, etc.) and it is also used to galvanize steel.
- Diamonds are used in jewellery-making and as cutting tool components.
- Lithium is used in battery making.
Note to parents and teachers: See our Espace jeunesse section for additional information and teaching materials.
- Institut de la statistique du Québec
- Fraser Institute
- Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles
- Natural Resources Canada