Ontario’s pipeline of prospective investments in the electrical vehicle and battery supply chains runs to at the least $17 billion as global investors proceed to have a look at putting down roots in North America, in keeping with the province’s minister of economic development, job creation and trade.
“We can’t win all of it, but we sure as hell are going to win a bit of it,” Vic Fedeli told attendees on the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention in Toronto March 7.
Between retooling projects at assembly plants, a $5 billion battery cell commitment in Windsor, Ont. and other related spending, Fedeli said Ontario has netted $17 billion in industry investment over the past two years, and has “at the least that within the pipeline.”
While much of the previous spending was concentrated toward the vehicle assembly end of the industry, the province’s prospects at the moment are moving upstream, Fedeli added. He pointed to firms that produce cathode and anode material, in addition to copper foil and separators for batteries as more likely to make up a bigger portion of the subsequent wave of investment in Ontario.
Fedeli also predicted Ontario would land its first lithium processing plant within the northwestern a part of the province soon. Several lithium mining projects are advancing north of each Thunder Bay and Kenora, Ont., and the fabric will should be processed locally, he added.
‘ALL OF THE RIGHT PIECES’
“We’ve all of the best pieces in place to make Northern Ontario a part of the auto sector for the primary time in 100 years.”
Amongst other assessments going down, two Ontario-based miners — Avalon Advanced Materials Inc., and Frontier Lithium Inc., — are each developing mines with local processing plants within the region. Avalon is already pursuing sites for a lithium hydroxide plant in Thunder Bay, while Frontier says it’s planning a plant within the “Great Lakes Region.”
Minister of Mines George Pirie, meantime, told PDAC attendees that local processing of minerals mined in Ontario will “feed the battery-electric vehicle revolution.”
“We wish to mix the mineral endowment of Northern Ontario with the manufacturing might in southern Ontario.”
To increase the recent string of investments within the province to the mining sector, the federal government introduced laws March 2 designed to slim down approval timelines for mines.
“If we’re going to secure our minerals, we now have to get them out of the bottom and we now have to create conditions that allow these minerals to be extracted in an efficient and effective way,” Pirie said, noting that past development timelines of as much as 15 years are “absolutely too long.”
Amongst other changes, the proposed amendments to the Mining Act would allow for greater flexibility in how mines may be rehabilitated once closed, in addition to add more options for corporate financial assurance payments, that are used to pay mine closure costs, even when a miner runs into financial trouble.
Pirie said the updated act, which is currently working its way through the legislative process, will speed approvals without damaging environmental standards.