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From smartphones and computer monitors to cardiac implants, MRI machines, and batteries, minerals are ubiquitous in our modern lifestyle. Their demand continues to get exponentially bigger with electric vehicles, ICT, and clean technology, driving the future.

However, most extraction, processing, and refining of these minerals are concentrated in a few countries. This concentration poses significant risks to global supply chains. An overreliance on a few sources for critical minerals makes the supply chain vulnerable, especially during times of geopolitical instability, underscoring the need for more diversified and secure sources.

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This is where initiatives like Ontario’s Critical Mineral Strategy are pivotal to developing a robust mineral sector, to help create more secure and resilient global supply chains, while also tapping into economic opportunities.

What is Ontario’s Critical Mineral Strategy

The Ontario Critical Minerals Strategy is a 5-year plan designed to establish the province as a trusted global producer of responsibly sourced critical minerals. This strategy aligns with other significant government plans like Driving Prosperity: The Future of Ontario’s Automotive Sector and the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan. Together, these initiatives aim to expand advanced manufacturing supply chains and foster sustainable economic growth opportunities in the province.

Critical Minerals in Ontario

Ontario is a treasure trove of minerals, attracting miners and investors for many years. Its rich natural resources position it as a key player in the critical minerals market. The province’s mining industry is already generating over $10 billion annually and supporting 75,000 jobs, including a significant number in Indigenous communities. 

A critical mineral, though not defined the same way everywhere, is generally understood as a mineral that is very important for certain industries, technologies, or strategic uses and is hard to replace. The criteria for minerals on Ontario’s critical minerals list include:

Ontario’s Critical Minerals: Source

By the close of 2021, Ontario boasted over 300,000 active mining claims in good standing. The province was a hub of activity, with more than 200 companies engaged in mineral exploration, including the search for critical minerals. At present, there are about 130 early-stage exploration projects specifically targeting critical minerals in Ontario, along with 16 projects that have reached a more advanced stage. This activity reinforces Ontario’s status as a top choice for exploration companies. In the year 2020 alone, these companies invested a total of $206 million in exploring critical minerals within the province.

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Pillars of Ontario’s Critical Mineral Industry

The effectiveness of Ontario’s Critical Minerals Strategy hinges on the cooperative efforts of the government, industry, Indigenous peoples, local communities, and various stakeholders. The government’s strategy contains six priorities:

Accompanying the strategy is a notable allocation of funds. To support prospectors and junior mining companies in discovering new mineral deposits in Ontario, the highly effective Junior Exploration Program will receive a substantial infusion of $24 million, distributed over a three-year period. Included in this investment is $12 million specifically earmarked for what the province has designated as a critical minerals funding initiative.

Ontario Advantages for Critical Minerals Growth

Ontario’s potential to become a premier critical minerals supplier is grounded in a combination of geographic, economic, social, and environmental factors:

Startup Opportunities in Critical Minerals in Ontario

Supply Chain Management: In this rapidly evolving sector, there are ample opportunities for startups to innovate in supply chain management. With the growing demand for critical minerals, efficient and sustainable supply chain solutions are essential. Startups could develop technologies or services to optimize logistics, ensure responsible sourcing, and improve transparency and traceability in the mineral supply chain.

Manufacturing: There’s also significant potential in manufacturing, especially in processing raw minerals into usable forms or creating components for the critical minerals industry. Startups can focus on developing new processing technologies that are more efficient or environmentally friendly. With Ontario’s integrated supply chain, there’s an opportunity for startups to contribute to the province’s manufacturing capabilities, particularly in areas like electric vehicle components and battery technology.

Ontario’s Government funding in critical minerals

Want to Start a Business in Critical Minerals in Canada?

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