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George Pirie Ontario Minster of Mines Delivers the State of Mining Address at the CME 2023

Jun 10, 2023

by Frank Giorno
Editor, https://www.mininglifeonline.net

George Pirie, Minister of Mines delivered a powerful state of mining in Ontario address to a packed audience during the Projects in the Pipeline Forum on the final day of the CME 2023.

Ontario is positioned to enter a very productive and successful era in mining.  

“Our time has come,” Pirie said summarizing the great potential in gold mining and critical minerals not only in the Timmins area but in the Sudbury basin, Red Lake district, and in the Ring of Fire.

The promising future of mining in Ontario Pirie explained is bolstered by global conditions that are fueling demands for a secure supply chain for critical minerals such as nickel, lithium, rare earth elements, cobalt, and silver – all needed for electric vehicle batteries manufacturing. 

Recently Ontario has seen the growth of electric battery manufacturing plants, Electric Battery Park in Temiskaming Shores and one in Windsor, Ontario. Negotiations are underway with Stellantis to build an EV battery plant in St. Thomas, Ontario.

EV batteries are needed not only for commercial electric cars that will contribute to the lowering of greenhouse gas emissions but also for mining vehicles and equipment that improve the health and safety of miners working underground because they eliminate hazardous emissions produced by gasoline-powered vehicles.

“I visited Vale’s Creighton Mine in Sudbury and I went to the 9,600-foot depth,” Pirie told the audience. “ The air was remarkably clean because of Vale’s investment in electric-powered equipment.”

The fragile global supply chains have been disrupted because Russia invaded Ukraine which has resulted in the loss of vital sources of nickel and other critical minerals. Russia Pirie pointed out is the 3rd largest supplier of nickel. The Philippines and Indonesia the 2nd and first leading nickel suppliers have unstable governments and fragile supply chains. 

Ontario has several projects where drilling results indicate large quantities of nickel and lithium

Canada Nickel is advancing the new Crawford nickel-cobalt sulphide discovery with large-scale potential located in the established Timmins mining camp adjacent to major infrastructure.

EV Nickel is developing the Shaw Dome nickel site 25 km southeast of Timmins. Both companies are also committed to operating in a carbon-neutral manner by capturing and sequestering carbon emissions.

In the Sudbury basin, Magna Mining is an exploration and development company focused on nickel, copper, and PGM projects in the Sudbury Region of Ontario, Canada. The Company’s flagship assets are the past-producing Shakespeare and Crean Hill Mines.

In northwestern Ontario, Frontier Lithium is developing the PAK lithium deposit in the Red Lake mining district. The PAK lithium project contains North America's highest-grade lithium resource and is the second largest in North America by size.

Rock Tech Lithium is developing its Georgia Lake deposit between Nipigon and Beardmore, Ontario the Thunder Bay mining district.

Pirie pointed to the desperate need to rapidly secure domestic Rare Earth Element (REE) supply, vital for the electric car industry because without it electric motors could not be built. Currently, the majority of REE supplies are controlled by China. Ontario is rich with REE deposits that are currently being explored and developed in The Timmins, Sudbury, and Northwestern Ontario regions. 

Noble Mineral Exploration has discovered rare earth mineralization during a recent drill program on the Nagagami Project northwest of Hearst, Ontario.

Gold mining which has fueled the Northern Ontario economy for over 100 years is experiencing a resurgence Pirie said and gold is still very important for both the stability it brings to the global economy and the plethora of gold mining projects and gold exploration activities.  Gold mining companies delivered updates on the progress of their current exploration projects. 

•    Agnico Eagle Mines Limited mines operating in Kirkland Lake and Detour Lake, Ontario
•    Moneta Gold Tower Gold project, located in the east Timmins region
•    Equinox Gold Greenstone Project located in Geraldton, Ontario, northeast of Thunder Bay
•    McEwen Mining Inc operates the Black Fox Mine in Matheson, Ontario east of Timmins
•    Galleon Gold Corp is developing the West Cache project in West Timmins
•    Gowest Gold is about to become fully operational at its Bradshaw Deposit north of Timmins
•    Côté Gold expects to become fully operational by 2024 located in Gogama south of Timmins
•    GFG Resources Inc owns the Montclerq property east of Timmins
•    Wesdome operates the Eagle River Underground Mine 50 km west of Wawa, Ontario
•    Argonaut Gold’s Magino Mine located northeast of Wawa, Ontario will have its first gold brick pour in June 2023

Minister Pirie also referred to the vast potential of The Ring of Fire rich with critical minerals and chromite deposits. Currently, an environmental assessment is underway for the construction of an all-season supply road that will transport the ores from the Ring of Fire and connect them to existing provincial highways and rail lines. The Webequie and Marten Falls First Nations are the proponents of the road proposal that will also benefit their communities.

Ontario’s Ring of Fire region is one of the most promising mineral development opportunities for critical minerals in the province. It’s located approximately 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay and covers about 5,000 square kilometres. The region has the long-term potential to produce critical minerals needed in the production of electric vehicle batteries such as cobalt nickel copper platinum and chromite, used in the production of stainless steel.

Pirie who has extensive mining experience as the Chief Financial Officer for Placer Dome vowed to help projects come to fruition faster, while also protecting the rights of Northern Ontario’s Indigenous population where the majority of projects are located. 

He referred to the recently enacted Build More Mines Act which the Ontario government passed to shorten the time it takes to build a mine.

“We won’t be able to achieve our goals of building the mines to extract the critical minerals to achieve a secure supply chain to stay part of this EV revolution…if it’s going to take 15 years. Fifteen years is not acceptable.”

In the gold mining sector, Pirie pointed to the example of IAMGOLD’s Còté Lake Project which has taken 17 years to reach production. The Ring of Fire a vast area of Northwestern is taking just as long.

Ontario’s goal is to become the dominant mining jurisdiction in Canada – “Our time has come,” Pirie said with confidence.


Image Pirie 6A
Image CME 2023

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