There has never been a more important time for the mining industry in our province.
COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine have exposed weaknesses in the global supply chains for natural resources such as critical minerals. We also have countries that do not share our world class labour, human rights and environmental and health and safety standards, gain a stronghold on the markets for many critical minerals. We must act now because the demand for critical minerals needed in strategic sectors such as electric vehicles, telecommunications, national defence and battery storage is growing exponentially.
This includes realizing the potential of one of the most promising critical minerals deposits in Canada: the Ring of Fire. By working in close partnership with Webequie First Nation and Marten Falls First Nation, environmental assessments are now underway for the two community road projects and the Terms of Reference has been submitted for the Northern Road Link. The Northern Road Link would connect the two community road projects to the Ontario highway network and the mineral deposits in the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario.
Our government is also promoting a competitive business climate that will encourage early exploration, mineral development and mine construction through programs such as the Ontario Junior Exploration Program (OJEP), which helps exploration companies fund early-stage projects and supports grassroots mineral exploration in Ontario.
In November, I was proud to announce the launch of the $5 million Critical Minerals Innovation Fund (CMIF) to enhance research and development of new technologies. The fund will support Ontario-based innovation that will help build the supply chain for electric vehicles and other technologies by connecting mineral resources in the north with the manufacturing might of the south.
I also recently created the minister’s Mining Industry Council. This diverse group of industry representatives, Indigenous partners and senior officials from my ministry will gather regularly to identify opportunities and address challenges in the mining industry.
We are focused on building an integrated supply chain in Ontario from mining through to the manufacturing of electric vehicles. We cannot accomplish this goal without a thriving mining sector, and that is exactly what I will achieve for this government. I’ve seen firsthand how mining can transform our communities for the better, unlocking good jobs in our rural and remote regions, including in my riding of Timmins, Ont.
We’ve made great progress, but there is still so much more to do. I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish in the months and years ahead.