Province backs hunt for minerals
March 28, 2022 | By Carl Clutchey
THUNDER BAY, ONT. – The provincial government has put some meat on a plan unveiled a year ago to intensify the hunt for metals used in the manufacture of batteries, smartphones, solar panels and other so-called green economy products.
At a news conference Thursday held at Impala Canada’s Lac Des Iles palladium mine north of Thunder Bay, Premier Doug Ford announced $24 million over three years so exploration companies can ramp up searches for commodities listed under the government’s critical minerals strategy.
“Doing so has never been more important as we secure game-changing investments in our auto sector to build the electric vehicles and batteries of the future,” Ford said in a news release.
Details about how exploration companies can apply for the funds weren’t immediately available.
The province also announced an additional $5 million over two years for a new critical minerals innovation fund for research into mining and milling methods in Northern Ontario.
According to a provincial backgrounder, about $3.5 billion worth of metals like nickel, cobalt, lithium and platinum-group metals were mined in the province in 2020.
Impala Canada president Tim Hill noted in the release that palladium is a key ingredient in the manufacture of catalytic converters, which are used to reduce pollution in exhaust from gas-powered cars and trucks.
“Our mine is one of only two known palladium deposits in North America and delivers 30 per cent of all palladium produced in Canada,” Hill said.
The other North American palladium mine is in Montana.
About 1,000 people work at Lac Des Iles, which is located about 85 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.
In the same news release, Ontario Mining Association president Chris Hodgson said the province is on the right track with its critical minerals initiative.
“This framework will localize the supply chain and reduce geopolitical risk for Ontario while responding to increasing market demand, contributing to the local economy, and providing well-paying jobs, particularly in Northern and Indigenous communities,” Hodgson said.
About 75,000 Ontarians are employed in the province’s mining sector, about 10 per cent of whom are Indigenous, the province says.
Carl Clutchey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, THE CHRONICLE-JOURNAL