On Thursday March 17th, the Ontario government launched the Critical Minerals Strategy, a five-year plan to position Ontario as a global leader in supplying critical minerals.
The Strategy identifies more than 30 different minerals including cobalt, nickel, lithium and graphite that are in high demand as the global economy shifts greener, but remain vulnerable to supply issues. With its rich mineral resources, Ontario has the potential to help fill the global supply gap, which is anticipated to increase as the demand for products with critical minerals as inputs grows. This includes products like -smartphones, batteries for electric vehicles, pharmaceutical, solar cells and advanced manufacturing technologies.
Why it Matters:
This Strategy aims to increase mineral exploration, processing and manufacturing that involves critical minerals. It also aims to support the extraction of resource from northern Ontario, including the much talked about Ring of Fire, and produce economic opportunities for Indigenous communities. Having a reliable supply of critical minerals could help Ontario attract investment and industries dependent on critical minerals, such as EV battery development, and strengthening and diversifying the economy.
Through the Strategy, the government has identified six areas (pillars) they can address to help position Ontario as a secure and responsible source of critical minerals:
1. Enhancing geoscience information and supporting critical minerals exploration
- Providing the best available information regarding Ontario’s critical minerals geoscience information through a modernized digital platform while also undertaking new geoscience initiatives, reassessing historical geoscience information and using enhanced analysis techniques to support redevelopment of historic deposits.
- Expanding incentives for critical minerals exploration and development through business support programs, tax credits and attractive tax rates.
2. Growing domestic processing and creating resilient local supply chains
- Building a made-in-Ontario supply chain by expanding capacity for critical minerals processing and refining, as well as recycling of materials through investment. This will help Ontario develop a reliable and uninterrupted supply of critical minerals.
- Ontario is already working to establish a supply chain for electric vehicle battery manufacturing by fostering connections between original equipment manufacturers and the mining sector.
- Helping companies understand and access government funding and incentive programs.
3. Improving the regulatory framework to make the mining industry more globally competitive
- Ontario has already taken steps to amend the Mining Act and its regulations. It is committing to continue to improve its regulatory framework for projects by increasing transparency in the decision-making process, providing project management support and inter-ministry coordination for regulatory approvals for critical minerals projects.
- Ontario has committed to making it easier for mineral recovery from mining waste by creating a regulatory framework for recovery of minerals from mine tailings and waste, supporting mineral recovery opportunities and exploring innovative solutions for rethinking mining waste.
4. Investing in innovation, research and development
- Ontario is committing to exploring new options for incentivizing critical minerals research and development and intellectual property-related support services.
- It is prioritizing research projects related to critical minerals and electric vehicles batteries that qualify for funding through Ministry of Colleges and Universities.
- It is also improving recovery from electric vehicle batteries, recovery of residual metals and minerals from waste and tailings through collaborations including with start-ups and large technology companies. It is helping to facilitate research by building mineral testing capacity and small-scale processing in collaboration with post-secondary institutions and critical minerals producers.
5. Building economic development opportunities with Indigenous partners
- Ontario is committing to see more Indigenous-owned businesses participate in mineral exploration and development activities and critical minerals supply chains. To support this, Ontario is funding programs that support critical minerals education in Indigenous communities and promoting programs that support Indigenous-owned business, workforce and skills development.
6. Growing labour supply and developing a skilled labour force
- Ontario is committing to meeting the growing labour force demands of the sector by supporting local employment development and human resource planning, supporting economic advancement and well-being for Indigenous communities and working to maintain pathways for foreign workers and international students.
- Ontario is committing to enhance training pathways by supporting industry efforts to attract and train underrepresented workers, promoting careers in the mining sector and working with post-secondary institutions. It is also funding initiatives related to the development of micro-credentials.
Ontario also announced funding to support the Strategy and finding minerals for the future:
- $24 million over three years in Ontario’s Junior Exploration Program, which includes an allocation of $12 million to a critical minerals funding stream; and
- $5 million over two years in a new critical minerals innovation fund to support research for extraction and processing in the north.
The intent of the Strategy is to signal to companies that Ontario is serious about establishing itself as a reliable supply chain of critical minerals that are sourced with high environmental, social and governance standards.
The Strategy is aligned with other initiatives released previously by this government such as Driving Prosperity: The Future of Ontario’s Automotive Sector and A Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan.
Happy to Help.
Please don’t hesitate to contact your Sussex consultant should you have any questions about Ontario’s Critical Minerals Strategy.
Robyn Gray, Principal & Environment Practice Lead
Brian Zeiler-Kligman, Vice President
Sadaf Abbasi, Director
Naomi Shuman, Associate
Amanda DeYoung, Associate
Paul Pellegrini, Executive Chairman