By: The Working Forest Staff
TIMMINSPRESS.COM — “There is a sense of urgency that’s been born out of some global affairs that are going on, that has put a spotlight on us here in Northern Ontario,” said Greg Rickford, Ontario’s Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, who was in Timmins Tuesday to make a couple of funding announcements.
“We’ve seen with the global strife in Ukraine” resulting from the military attack by Russia, “some important things have happened.”
Rickford pointed out to his audience that U.S. President Joe Biden recently announced 40 to 50 percent tariffs on hardwood and plywood made from Russian birch.
“So there ain’t nobody buying birch and hardwood from Russia for the foreseeable future. Northern Ontario and Northeastern Ontario, in particular, is in business.”
Rickford also touched on the fact the Ontario government recently released a Critical Minerals Strategy, a five-year roadmap meant to position the province as a global leader in the production of these metals. It is a timely strategy as Northern Ontario is widely viewed as an important domestic source of critical minerals used in the production of batteries used in electric cars.
“The Premier (Doug Ford), myself and Vic Fedeli (Ontario minister of economic development, job creation and trade) … announced the electric battery capacity in Windsor,” Rickford said.
“What does that mean? Well, on the critical mineral side, we can now start to talk about exploration to electric vehicles and everything in between.”
Rickford said, “The Premier and Vic (Fedeli) went down to do some business (in the United States) and every meeting that they went in, no matter what the agenda item was, it came back to mining in Northern Ontario and back to critical minerals.”
Rickford added that interest in Northern Ontario’s potential as a vital supplier of critical minerals for the electric car industry isn’t limited to the U.S.
He said the European Union’s ambassador reached out to both him and Premier Ford about the possibility of meeting at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto in June to “establish a formal alliance with all of the European Union and Ontario … to ensure that we have a plan, a roadmap and strategy moving forward for our critical minerals.”
Rickford said, “The world is looking at Northern Ontario as a place to do business in the forest sector and in critical minerals. We know that. We understand the opportunity that is to support businesses, to support municipalities, that means making critical investments in health care services and programs, investing in local businesses and prepare for a really bright future; making sure our transportation corridors are fortified and that’s exactly what we’ve been working on.”
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