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Ontario's $5M innovation fund to boost mineral processing tech

Critical Minerals Innovation Fund looks to strengthen BEV supply chain between mining and manufacturing sectors
Electra Battery Materials refinery 1
Electra Battery Materials is proposing an $800-million battery materials industrial park in Temiskaming. | Company photo

The province has launched the $5-million Critical Minerals Innovation Fund to fast forward the development of new technologies related to battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

Its goal over two years will be to fund new projects that increase the exploration, mining, smelting and processing of critical minerals — the metals that are required to make the batteries used to power BEVs.

Mines Minister George Pirie announced the fund in a Nov. 24 news release.

“Our goal is to supply our province, country and allies with the critical minerals we need to meet our climate goals and transition to a cleaner, sustainable economy,” Pirire said in the release.

“This investment will leverage Ontario’s expertise to tap into new and growing markets and ensure we capitalize on the growing demand for responsibly and ethically sourced critical minerals.”

The initiative aims to promote collaboration between industry, academia, and startups.

Included in the fund's purview are technologies that would enable companies to “recover critical minerals from mine tailings and waste sites across the province,” the province said.

Trent Mell, whose company, Electra Battery Materials Corporation, is in the process of building a $3-million metals recycling demonstration plant as part of a larger project in Temiskaming, heralded the announcement as a move in the right direction to putting Ontario at the forefront of EV mining, processing and technology development.

"We are delighted to see the launch of the Critical Minerals Innovation Fund in Ontario. Ontario is one of the best jurisdictions in the world to lead the transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Mell, the company's president and CEO, in the release.

“With the rapid transition of North America’s automotive sector towards electric vehicles, coupled with growing consumer demand for zero emission vehicles, now is the right time for the province to capitalize on its abundant critical minerals, proximity to markets and skilled workers.

“We are building North America’s only critical minerals refinery for the auto sector because of these strategic advantages. We applaud the government for their foresight in launching this new fund."

The application process for the fund is now open.

Information on eligibility criteria and the submission process is available here.