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Canada launches $1.67b fund to support domestic critical minerals projects

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By Imelda Cotton - 
Canada launches fund domestic critical minerals projects CMIF

The Canadian government is officially on the hunt for new critical mineral projects which could benefit from a newly-launched A$1.67 billion (CAD$1.5 billion) fund.

The Critical Minerals Infrastructure Fund (CMIF) is designed to facilitate sustainable critical minerals production and connect valuable resources to market through the support of clean energy and electrification projects as well as transportation and infrastructure construction.

Strategic priorities include decarbonising industrial mining operations, fortifying supply chains through transportation infrastructure and advancing economic reconciliation by actively involving indigenous groups in critical mineral projects.

With funding available over a seven-year period, the initiative is expected to help unlock the critical minerals sector and promote the development of clean technology.

Canada is one of a number of western nations seeking less dependency on China which currently controls the majority of critical mineral mining and processing.

Governments also see sustainable mining as a means for rural development and employment.

Call for proposals

Earlier this week, the minister of energy and natural resources Jonathan Wilkinson announced a call for proposals, the first of several steps under the CMIF.

“Critical minerals are a generational economic opportunity for Canada [and] demand for them is projected to rise exponentially as the global economy shifts toward low-carbon solutions,” he said.

“The CMIF will allow [us] to make strategic investments to grow the sustainable development of these minerals and reinforce our position as a global supplier of choice for clean technology, clean energy and the resources the world needs to build a prosperous net-zero economy.”

Mr Wilkinson said up to $335 million in co-funding would be available under two streams — pre-construction and project development; and infrastructure deployment.

Companies can seek up to $61 million per project, while provincial and territorial governments investing in public projects can apply for as much as $123 million for each one.

Applications are being accepted until the end of February.

Critical minerals strategy

The CMIF was introduced to promote sustainable critical minerals production and connect resources to markets.

It is a key component of Canada’s critical minerals strategy launched in December, targeting 31 commodities ranked as vital components to the production of electric vehicles including lithium, nickel and graphite.

These minerals are deemed essential to Canada’s economic security, as they play a pivotal role in the country’s transition to a low-carbon economy and provide a “sustainable source of critical minerals for [Canadian] partners”.

Clean technologies

Critical minerals are key enablers of clean technologies (such as batteries and alternative energy sources including wind turbines and solar panels), which are essential to achieving a net-zero-emissions future and fighting climate change.

Canada is already a leading supplier of sustainably-sourced minerals and materials and is committed to making strategic investments to reinforce its position and drive job creation and economic growth.

Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne hoped the CMIF would boost the competitiveness of the minerals and metals sector.

“Our government is strengthening the electric vehicle value chain that we are building from coast-to-coast by adding value to our critical minerals resources, from mineral processing to manufacturing and recycling,” he said.

The CMIF will be underpinned by the Canada Infrastructure Bank.