Proportionally, the mining industry is the largest private sector employer of Indigenous peoples in Canada and potential for increased Indigenous employment remains strong. Some 180 producing mines and more than 2,500 exploration properties are located within 200 km of Indigenous communities. Also, many mines and projects are located on traditional lands. Indigenous peoples across the country are, therefore, ideally situated to access employment opportunities (and other benefits) in the mining industry.
The mining industry has proven an effective vehicle not just for Indigenous employment, but also for skills training and upward mobility. For example, Indigenous individuals in the mining workforce are increasingly pursuing formal education credentials. According to Mining Industry Human Resources Council research in 2006, 30% had no certificate, diploma or degree; by 2016, that rate fell to 22%. From 2006 to 2016, the share of Indigenous individuals in the mining workforce with a college, CEGEP or other non-university certificate or diploma rose by three percentage points, as did the rate for those with a university certificate, diploma or degree at bachelor level or above.
In addition to employment, training and education opportunities, the mining sector is a major customer of Indigenous businesses, with many companies spending millions annually with Indigenous service providers. Mining is the largest private sector business partner of Indigenous-owned enterprises in the North, responsible for helping to develop and grow many successful Indigenous businesses, some that have grown and now serve customers beyond the mining sector.