Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 92: Business and Reconciliation (92)

Ministers urge mining companies to ‘seize’ the moment as First Nation challenges mount

March 5, 2024

Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford said mining will bring permanent infrastructure like roads and bridges to underserved communities

Ontario Minister of Indigenous Affairs Greg Rickford speaks during question period at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio

NationTalk: – Facing legal challenges and protests from First Nations over mining development, Ford government ministers told the industry they’re doubling down — quadrupling, even — on the push to create a closed-loop electric vehicle manufacturing process in Ontario.

“This is really a turning point in all of our lives in the north right now, this very moment,” Economic Development Minister and Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli said on Monday at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) annual conference in Toronto — one of the world’s largest mining conventions, hosting 30,000 people from 130-plus countries, according to the group.

“We have something in our ground that the rest of the world wants. And this is the moment for us to capture this opportunity,” he said, noting nickel and lithium discoveries in Timmins and northwestern Ontario, respectively.

“We need to get those minerals out of the ground and into the EVs” that will be built in Ontario, he said.

“We’ve got to absolutely seize that moment,” he said. “This is the time to put any issues aside and work together to get those minerals up.”

Fedeli spoke to a small conference room full of mining and northern Ontario municipal stakeholders who were in good spirits after a $3.7 million announcement from Northern Development Minister Greg Rickford.

Eleven mining companies in the north will divvy up the funding through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, allowing them to expand operations in cities like Timmins, Sudbury and Elliot Lake, Rickford said. 

Several First Nations have said they’re considering legal action over Ontario’s free-entry mining claims system, which as of 2018 has allowed companies to stake claims online instead of hammering posts into the ground. Cat Lake First Nation was recently granted an injunction to halt a temporary winter road to a proposed mine, saying it wasn’t consulted properly.

Rickford, who is also Ontario’s Indigenous Affairs minister, said he believes his government has consulted appropriately.

Asked about Cat Lake First Nation’s injunction, he said he was thinking of the community in the wake of the fire that destroyed its nursing station.

Rickford said he knows Chief Russell Wesley well and sees “more opportunity than I see issues there.”

“Legacy infrastructure” to improve First Nations like roads, bridges and electrification go hand-in-hand with resource projects, he said.  

“I’ve never once heard a chief in the community — and I’ve been there a very long time; as you guys know, I’ve lived over a decade of my life in the isolated and remote First Nations communities — not talk about the opportunity for responsible resource development that is balanced,” he said.

Timmins and Sudbury-area companies will see over $1 million each from Monday’s funding. 

Heavy equipment supplier Itec 2000 Equipment will receive $894,000 to buy and renovate a building in Timmins and for equipment purchases. Heating and cooling systems supplier Cool Heat will get $101,835 for equipment and a new shop. Titans Mechanical will receive $100,620 for a Timmins-based mobile repair business for heavy-duty mining equipment and vehicles. And the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT) Timmins, a non-profit that makes workplace safety and productivity programs, will get $79,282 to renovate its facility and buy equipment.

North Bay company Nordic Minesteel Technologies will receive $143,638 to develop and test a “safer and more economical” device for hoisting people in mine shafts.

Sudbury mining tech business Shaft Sinking Engineered Products will get $250,000 “to develop and test a mucking machine that will automate the development of mine shafts and shaft stations,” according to the government press release.

B&D Manufacturing in Chelmsford will get $215,298, and Lively-based NCIndustrial Limited will receive $599,893 for equipment purchases. NCIndustrial will also use the cash to reconfigure its facility.

The full funding list is available in the release.

About the Author: Jack Hauen

Jack has been covering Queen’s Park since 2019. Beats near to his heart include housing, transportation, municipalities, health and the environment. He especially enjoys using freedom of information requests to cause problems.