Experts applaud $11M move by feds toward critical minerals


A new call for proposals by the federal government for critical minerals development has the support of many people in the industry.

It's called the Critical Minerals Research Development and Demonstration program (CMRDD) and it's looking to infuse another $11 million worth of funding.

It's part of $47.7 million announced in Budget 2021 for federal research and development. It will fund applications that demonstrate the ability to reduce energy and carbon intensity. The projects will also reduce the environmental footprint of processing, increase production and provide innovative advancements.

Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson recently put the call out for applications as part of National Mining week.

Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré said the benefits to the north are numerous.

"When you look at defence, security technologies, consumer electronics, critical infrastructure, there (are) a lot of other different companies that we have to attract in northern Ontario to make sure that our critical minerals stay here and that we look at manufacturing here in northern Ontario to get more jobs," he said.

Serré, who was once parliamentary secretary for the file, said natural resources are key right now as the government looks to meet its net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

"There's one intake, so it's really important that the private sector get together to see what we can do," he said.

"We know critical minerals, there's no politics here, federally, provincially, we're all working together because this is such a great opportunity towards obtaining our climate objectives."

Other sectors are expected to benefit, including mining supply.

Mine Connect represents the mining supply sector for companies in northern Ontario.

"Hopefully this will be an opportunity for businesses to demonstrate how innovative we actually are," said executive director Marla Tremblay.

"I know that northern Ontario is often seen as the provider of the resource, but we are also a manufacturing powerhouse."

"This is really an exciting opportunity," said Re-Think Green's Rebecca Danard.

"Critical minerals are going to be so important to our transition to a low-carbon economy. We're going to need more batteries, more solar panels."

It's the latest announcement to benefit the sector, following the release of the province's critical minerals strategy.

Many have stressed the importance of using critical minerals for things like batteries for electric vehicles.

"We really need to ramp up that capacity to meet the demand, right?" said Devin Arthur, of the EV Society of Sudbury.

"So to have strategies in place, to be able to supply that demand is going to be really important going forward."

Companies interested in applying have until June 17.