Critical Minerals Report August 2023

Premiers Focused on Actions to Support Economic Growth and Opportunities

At the forefront of this year’s Canada’s Premiers Summit in Winnipeg, MB was the balancing act between environmental protection and economic growth. As a result, the following provincial priorities were released:

  • competitiveness, Canada-United States relations and trade;
  • strategic infrastructure;
  • energy security and critical minerals; and
  • sustainable development and climate action.


Premiers seek to achieve these priorities through cooperation with key partners and have called on the Prime Minister to convene a First Ministers’ Meeting to further discuss competitiveness and strategic infrastructure. Critical mineral strategies have since then been at the centre of provincial strategies.

Government of Manitoba Releases Critical Minerals Strategy

In the spirit of the Canada’s Premiers Summit to develop a Canadian critical minerals value chain that will benefit the clean economy, the Government of Manitoba has released the Manitoba Critical Minerals Strategy: Driving Sustainable Growth. According to Premier Stefanson, this historic milestone will coordinate the work of government, local communities, and the private sector to capitalize upon Manitoba’s strategic advantages and generate investment in critical mineral exploration and development that will be recognized across the globe.


As Manitoba houses 29 out of the 31 critical minerals found on Canada’s critical minerals list (including lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt, copper, and rare earth elements, which have been deemed a priority by the federal government), Premier Stefanson has been colloquially calling the province the ‘Costco warehouse of mines’ and has emphasized that it is “open for business”. According to the province, lithium, copper, nickel, and silica represent some of the province’s top opportunities, as well as the activities highlighted in the map below:


To achieve its critical minerals ambitions and advance the economic opportunities, the Government of Manitoba’s Strategy will pursue the following six strategic pillars:

  • Global Awareness of Manitoba’s Competitive Advantage
  • Advancing Indigenous Involvement in the Mineral Economy
  • High-Quality Geoscience Information
  • Streamlined Regulatory Permitting Processes
  • A Supportive Ecosystem of Value-Added Activities
  • Targeted Training and Skills Development Pathways

Remarks by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance on critical minerals and creating good-paying careers in Saskatchewan

Neighbouring Saskatchewan also received federal attention for its critical minerals’ sector. On July 11, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland made remarks on the economic opportunities in the province’s sector. In light of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and the global push for a green economy, Freeland positioned Saskatchewan and its 23 critical minerals as key to the global critical minerals supply chain. Moreover, Freeland highlighted how the federal government’s new tax credit for clean technology manufacturing and for decarbonization will spur job growth in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and within the context of decreasing inflation rates. For more information on how Saskatchewan is responding to the need to drive growth and development in its critical minerals sector, click on the province’s new critical minerals strategy here.

Doug Ford says this mining region is a top priority. Ottawa doesn’t necessarily agree

Cooperation on critical minerals between the federal government and provinces has not been all smooth sailing this month. Federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Ontario Premier Doug Ford are at odds with Ontario’s “Ring of Fire.” For Wilkinson’s part, he stated that projects could be developed closer to existing infrastructure, while Ford wants to see rapid development in the mineral belt after discussions have been on the table for 15 years. While both governments agree on making Canada a critical mineral powerhouse, the exact location in Ontario remains controversial, in part due to the Ring of Fire’s environmental sensitivity.  

Funding Opportunities Announced in July

Turning to funding opportunities for entities that will contribute to the development of a critical minerals value chains in Canada, the following two programs were announced this month.

Natural Resources Canada Second Call for Proposals – Critical Minerals Research Development and Demonstration Program

Minister Wilkinson announced a second call for proposals for the Critical Minerals Research Development and Demonstration (CMRDD) Program, which carries a total of $40 million in contribution funding to support developing technology and pilot demonstration projects that will develop critical minerals value chains and Canada’s goal of becoming net-zero by 2050.

The aim of the CMRDD Program is to advance the commercial readiness of technologies that will help Canada produce key critical minerals, as prioritized in the Strategy (lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt, copper, and rare earth elements). Through the funding of up to $5 million per project (merit-based awards), the current gap in the critical minerals value chain will be fulfilled through moving projects from the pre-commercial stage into demonstration, adoption, and integration into domestic and international value chains.

The call for proposals is open to any Canadian recipient, such as mining companies, community groups, Indigenous groups, academic institutions, as well as governments (provincial, territorial, regional, and municipal, as well as their departments and agencies). For interested applications who meet the necessary project requirements and technology readiness level of TRL 6-8, applications can be submitted online until the deadline of September 29, 2023.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada Releases Funds to Strengthen the Domestic Critical Minerals Value Chain

To take advantage of the generational opportunity that the Government of Canada has placed on developing the Canadian critical minerals value chain, ISED has recently announced a $1.5 billion funding opportunity.

First announced in Budget 2022, these funds will be available through the Strategic Innovation Fund, with the aim of accelerating investments in critical minerals projects that meet the qualifying criteria of focusing on mineral processing, manufacturing, and recycling. Specifically, the eligible projects must target at least 1 of the 31 minerals that Canada has identified as critical, with an upmost priority placed on lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt, copper, and rare earth elements. Additionally, projects must demonstrate a focus with the clean technologies (including renewable energy sources, information and communication technology, and inputs to advance manufacturing) sectors.

Through the dedicated critical mineral investments, the Government of Canada believes that the Strategic Innovation Fund will be a key contribution to advancing its complete critical minerals value chain goals.

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