Asbestos is a commercial term applied to fibrous varieties of several specific minerals. In Canadian mining the asbestos industry assumes considerable importance. Its contribution to Canadian mineral production not only outranks all other non-metallics, but also ranks fifth in value of all metallic and non-metallic minerals. The importance of the asbestos industry is reflected in the largest mine in the Western World, the Jeffrey Mine at Asbestos Quebec Fig. 1 with an output of 700,000 tons of fibre per year.
In 1980 the USSR contributed 47 % of the world's 52 million tpa of asbestos fibre production compared with Canada's 29 %. The real importance of the Canadian asbestos production lies in the fact that Canada is responsible for almost two thirds of the world's exports whereas the USSR and the Comecon countries consume themselves virtually all they produce, Fig. 2.