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Ministry of Energy Mines and Responsible for Core Review

Nonmetallic Minerals other than Coal (Industrial Minerals, Gemstones and Aggregate) in British Columbia, Canada

Paper 2009 - 2

by G.J. Simandl


View Paper 2009-2 (PDF, 2.3 MB)

Nonmetallic minerals other than coal (NMsOC) are key components of economies in developed countries.  For the purpose of this paper, the term NMsOC includes traditional industrial minerals, natural aggregate and crushed stone, dual minerals that can be used both as industrial minerals and metal ore (e.g., magnesite for magnesia and magnesium metal; chromite for ferrochrome alloys; quartzite for silicon metal), specialty metals (e.g. Ta, Nb and REE that are commonly used in oxide form as industrial minerals), and gemstones.


NMsOC are an increasingly significant component of international trade. British Columbia is strategically located on the west coast of North America and has well-developed infrastructure in the southern, more populated third of the Province, including several deep-water ports, and a well-maintained highway system. Rail links British Columbia's industrial centres to terminal points across the continent. The Province has attractive energy costs and untapped mineral resources.


The main NMsOC produced in British Columbia are magnesite, limestone, gypsum, sulphur (derived as a byproduct from oil and gas processing), construction aggregate, crushed rock, silica, dimension stone and white calcium carbonate. NMsOC produced in lesser quantities include jade (nephrite), magnetite, dolomite, barite, volcanic cinder, pumice, flagstone, clay, tufa, bentonite, Fuller’s earth and zeolites. 


The value of NMsOC produced in British Columbia during 2008 was estimated at $754 million; however, this estimate does not reflect value-added processing. In 2009, the value of NMsOC is expected to be lower than in 2008.  Production of low-value, large tonnage NMsOC (with the exception of resources located along the coast) is constrained by the size of British Columbia’s industrial base and the needs of local populations.


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