While mining in Canada is one of the country’s primary industries, producing more than 60 minerals and metals, it doesn’t fall in the top 10 list of silver producing countries.
Last year, the North American nation ranked 14th in silver production with 12.2 million ounces produced.
Global silver production in 2015 reached 886.7 million ounces, although its growth slowed by 2 percent compared to the previous year. Canada’s lack of primary silver mines may be responsible for its lower ranking as primary silver supply accounted for 30 percent of total global silver mine supply last year.
Most mined silver is a by-product from other metal mines, and silver production in Canada fits that description. According to Natural Resources Canada (NRC), mines in Canada are largely polymetallilc, so, it’s no surprise that the main sources of silver in Canada are copper-zinc, copper-nickel, gold, and lead-zinc ores.
Silver mining by province/territory
The NRC’s most recent research from December 2010 shows that the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec and New Brunswick have dominated in terms of proven and probable mineable silver reserves in Canada.
The province of British Columbia, and the territories of Nunavut and the Yukon have become hotbeds for resource exploration and development projects with several companies on the hunt for the next silver find.
Not only is BC the corporate base for many Canadian mining firms, it’s also a major producer of base and precious metals with a long history of silver mining. In production from 1909 to 2001, the Sullivan lead-zinc-silver mine was once one of the world’s largest producing mines with an estimated total silver production of 280 million ounces.
Currently, there are several junior mining companies exploring for silver in the province.
New Gold (TSX:NGD)
New Gold is currently advancing its 100 percent owned Blackwater Project southwest of Prince George, British Columbia. 60.8 million ounces of silver reserves have been reported, with 7 million ounces of silver resources. The project is currently in the environmental assessment and permitting process with the federal and provincial governments.
New Gold’s shares have increased by 58.39 percent to $5.10 year-to-date.
Nicola Mining (TSX:NIM)
One of Nicola Mining’s projects is the Merritt Mill and Tailings Facility, which is capable of producing silver concentrate along with free gold concentrate and gold floation concentrate. Most recently it was announced that the mill is ready to recommence operations as early as June 2016.
The company also holds the Treasure Mountain Property, which is an approximate 7,000 acre silver deposit.
Nicola Mining’s shares have bumped up 76.92 percent year-to-date to sit at $0.115.
Nunavut and the Yukon Territories
While Canada’s territories don’t come close to the annual silver production posted by the provinces, they are quickly becoming centers of new exploration, especially in Nunavut and the Yukon.
Aura Silver Resources (TSXV:AUU)
From 2006 to 2015, Aura Silver has explored the Greyhound property, which is currently under option to Agnico Eagle Mines (TSX:AEM). Initial project claims were staked in 2006 over historical silver prospects assaying between 1,480-3,080 grams per tonne of silver.
The company’s most recent news regarding the Greyhound property came on April 12, 2016 wherein they had reviewed a final exploration plan for the year.
Alexco Resource (TSX:AXR)
Alexco owns the Keno Hill silver district in the Yukon. The Bellekeno silver mine, with production of up to 1,000 grams of silver per tonne, commenced production in 2011 and was Canada’s only primary silver mine between 2011 and 2013.
In May, the company announced its first quarter 2016 results, noting that the company had planned an exploration program at Keno Hill to follow up on its 2015 high grade silver results at the Bermingham deposit.
Year-to-date, Alexco’s shares have made gains of 223.4 percent to $1.52.
Klondike Silver Corp (TSXV:KS)
Klondike Silver is exploring for silver or silver-rich polymetallic projects in the Yukon. The Belmoral Mine in Quebec and the Hemlo Mine in Ontario are said to be some of the team’s biggest finds in the past.
Most recently, the company announced they had closed a private placement, issuing 20,166,67 units for gross proceeds of $605,000.
Shares of Klondike have gained 125 percent year-to-date to sit at $0.045
Avino Silver and Gold Mines (TSXV:ASM)
Avino Silver and Gold Mines currently has 100 percent ownership of the Eagle Property in the Yukon. In 2009, through an option agreement with Avino, Mega Silver drilled six holes, which successfully identified strong silver, gold, enriched zinc and lead mineralization.
Year-to-date, the company’s shares have gained 71.77 percent to hit $2.13.
Elsewhere in Canada
Of course, British Columbia, Nunavut and the Territories aren’t the only places in Canada where silver is mined.
Hudbay Minerals (TSE:HBM)
Hudbay Minerals owns a 100 percent interest in the 777 mine, an underground copper, zinc, gold and silver mine near Flin Flon, Manitoba. Most recent silver production as of 2014 shows the mine produced 21.48 grams per tone of silver grade in ore.
In the company’s first quarter of 2016 results, 722,916 ounces of silver were produced for the three month period ending March 31, 2016.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Jocelyn Aspa, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
This is an updated version of an article published on the Investing News Network on August 25 2010.