As the federal government was formally announcing Canada's new Critical Minerals Strategy, backed up by $3.8 billion in funding allocations, several Sudbury community leaders were commenting on how that program presents a host of opportunities for the local mining and mining technology sectors.
Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson outlined the program in Vancouver on Dec. 9. At the same time, the importance of the program was showcased in a public announcement at Greater Sudbury city hall early Friday afternoon.
Sudbury MP Viviane Lapointe was joined by Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré, Sudbury Mayor Paul Lefebvre and Economic Development Director Meredith Armstrong in outlining the opportunities Sudbury will have accessing minerals needed in the burgeoning battery electric vehicle (BEV) industry.
That industry will require significant amounts of lithium, cobalt, nickel and copper, all of which can be found in Northern Ontario, with business and supply-chain links to Sudbury.
"Mining has always been one of Canada's economic cornerstones," Lapointe said. "Today, this sector matters more than ever. There is growing global appreciation that a cleaner net zero, global economy cannot be achieved without mineral extraction. Specifically, critical minerals, the building blocks for a green and digital economy, the building blocks for the future. And this country and certainly our city has all the ingredients to lead," Lapointe said.
"Canada is the only jurisdiction in the Western Hemisphere that has all the minerals needed to make an electric vehicle. And many of those minerals can be found right here in Sudbury and in Northern Ontario."
She added that Canada needs to keep the momentum going.
"We need to act fast. There is fierce competition for these investments. But Canada can move quickly to the front of the line if we take strong action now," she said.
Her optimism was echoed by Serré.
“Today’s announcement is a positive step towards unlocking Canada’s true potential as a global leader in critical mineral production. This strategy will be particularly beneficial for the Nickel Belt area, where current mining infrastructure is being adapted to extract critical minerals,” Serré said. “It will further solidify the region’s efforts to become a key player in the global transition to zero and low carbon energy sources.”
The mayor commented that he was pleased Natural Resources Canada was allowing the minerals announcement to be made in Sudbury at the same time as the formal announcement was being made in Vancouver. Lefebvre said this was an indication of the importance of the role Sudbury has in the success of the mineral strategy.
Lefebvre said no one can deny the fact that all the essential minerals are in the North along with the technology and the supply-chain connections that will benefit Sudbury and the city's role in the BEV industry.
“Greater Sudbury is the future of the Critical Mineral Strategy for Canada, with the natural resources, business expertise and innovative research to back it up,” the mayor said. “Our mining supply and services sector is already leading the way for electrification of mines around the world, and the clean energy sector is a natural fit with our regreening experience. We are ready to work with the federal government to seize these unprecedented opportunities and continue to be an economic driver for Canada. I am committed to our success and I’m excited for what the future holds."
For her part, Armstrong told the group that planning is already well underway for the city's second annual BEV Mines to Mobility conference, which is scheduled to take place in May. Armstrong said this will see continued growth of Sudbury's role in the development of battery electric vehicles.
"The Greater Sudbury story is rooted in mining as well as our regreening experience. And our mining supply sector is a global leader. We know that we're a one-stop-shop for everything from mine design and engineering to operations, maintenance, innovation and manufacturing. In fact, Sudbury is leading the way for EV adoption and electrification of mines," Armstrong said.
Len Gillis covers mining and health care for Sudbury.com.