Policy Brief: The Labour Impact of Canadian Mining in Latin America

by Pablo Heidrich and Matt Blundell

A popular perception of mining is that of an enclave industry with few lasting effects on local economies, in part due to its negligible employment impact. Another is that most mining jobs go to foreigners or non-locals because they require highly specialized skills. Analysis of a database of 66 mines in operation under Canadian ownership partially corroborates those views. Overall, these are responsible for approximately 63,000 jobs across the region in an industry that over all employs less than 1 per cent of the labour force in the host countries. Almost all labour in those mines, however, is done by nationals or locals earning high wages and the skills required for most positions are similar to those used in construction, mechanical manufacturing, and metal manufacturing.

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This policy brief is part of the on-going project “From Minor Player to Major Actor: Canada's Role in Latin America”, that looks at issues related to mining, migration and foreign policy. This project is supported by funding provided by an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).