With the government investing in electric vehicles, Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus said the region should "seize this moment."
At the Timmins Chamber's town State of COVID-19 townhall Oct. 7, Angus talked about the exciting potential for the area.
The federal and provincial governments announced a combined $590-million investment on Oct. 8 for Ford Motor Company's $1.8-million retooling of its Oakville assembly plant to start rolling electric vehicles off the line by 2025.
To do that, Angus said they need nickel, copper, and cobalt for the electric batteries.
“And you know where they’re getting cobalt and copper from? They’re getting it from Congo. And there’s a worldwide campaign against the export of these minerals because of the human rights violations, taking nickel from Indonesia where they’re using coal."
About 40 kilometres north of Timmins is Canada Nickel's flagship project, the Crawford nickel-cobalt sulphide property. The Toronto-based exploration company is pitching the future project as a zero-emissions operation with the aim of appealing to the North American lithium ion battery sector.
Angus said he was impressed with the NetZero focus of the company, saying it's going to be the standard.
He said the region needs to work together to make sure the metals are sourced from an area like here, where there are Indigenous agreements and strong environmental standards.
"And if the feds say they want to have higher standards for zero emissions, we will meet those standards. I think it’s an opportunity for the resource sector of Northern Ontario to actually really be part of a big recovery because the future is going to be in these new batteries, in electric vehicles, in renewables, and we can supply that," he said.
"I think we actually have to seize this moment and really, really push a vision of sustainable, natural resource development that has Indigenous support, that has environmental support and that says we can be part of a sustainable recovery."
TImmins MPP Gilles Bisson noted what's missing in resource economies is building legacy.
“We can’t have mining and forestry happen in places like Northern Ontario and then we don’t have some sort of legacy funding mechanism that allows us to put money aside so we can maintain and build infrastructure long after people are gone,” he said.
In a news release, the Ontario government called electric vehicle manufacturing a "critical component" toward secureing similar investments in this supply chain, especially for the province's mining industry since the raw material for the batteries are found in this region.