Ontario announces minerals strategy

Minister of energy, northern development and mines and minister of Indigenous Affairs, Greg Rickford, announced on March 10, that the Ontario government is developing its first ever Critical Minerals Strategy to help support Ontario’s transition to a low-carbon economy and create jobs and opportunities in the mining sector.

“We’re developing this strategy to advance our provincial status as a supplier of choice for critical minerals and creating good paying, high quality jobs particularly for northern and Indigenous communities,” Rickford said. “As our province becomes a leading player in the electric vehicle value chain and other key supply chains such as stainless steel and high tech, we will take an even greater role in becoming a global hub for critical minerals.”

Along with the announcement, a discussion paper to consult the public and Indigenous communities on the strategy was released.

The discussion paper outlines the strategies details and defines a critical mineral as a division of the raw materials needed to produce many products and specialized technologies, adding that the minerals that a jurisdiction deems critical depends on its geology and its own domestic and economic priorities.

According to the news release issued by the province on Wednesday, Ontario is positioned to become a global supplier, producer and manufacturer for certain minerals including nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum group elements.

Critical minerals are also incredibly valuable for a wide range of other industries because of their highly specialised and specific applications, Rickford said, adding that other sectors that depend on critical minerals include information and communications technology, clean technology, energy, as well as health and life sciences.

“As the global shift towards a low carbon economy accelerates, so does the demand for critical minerals as countries adopt technologies that can help address environmental concerns,” Rickford said.

In 2019, Ontario produced over $10 billion worth of minerals, accounting for 22 per cent of Canada’s total mineral production. There are 40 mines operating in Ontario and critical minerals are produced at 10 of them.

The discussion paper lists five key areas of focus for the critical minerals strategy;

Supporting partnership opportunities with Indigenous communities which includes how they can participate and benefit from the economic opportunities and jobs.

Developing an Ontario critical minerals list which will be of interest to jurisdictions that are seeking to secure a reliable supply of raw material for their own domestic markets such as the U.S.

Enhancing investment in mineral exploration and development.

Regulatory and policy reform which includes updating the Mining Acts to establish timeline requirements to create business certainty around closure plan amendments.

Supply chain and manufacturing opportunities which entails exploring opportunities to advance the provinces advantage for the critical minerals supply chain.

The discussion paper aims to hear from the public and is seeking feedback on the paper for 60 days. Comments will be considered in the development of the strategy which Rickford said is currently underway, adding he is aiming to have it completed by the end of the year.

Comments and concerns about the strategy can be submitted to criticalmineral@ontario.ca.

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