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New Critical Minerals Strategy Signals Manitoba Open for Business: Stefanson, Wharton

To ensure Manitoba is a globally recognized leader in supplying the world with critical minerals, the Manitoba government is releasing the Manitoba Critical Minerals Strategy, Premier Heather Stefanson and Economic Development, Investment and Trade Minister Jeff Wharton announced today.

The Manitoba Critical Minerals Strategy affirms the Manitoba government’s commitment to supporting a responsible and thriving mining sector by laying out actions to guide the work of government, local communities and the private sector, and maintain Manitoba’s momentum as a top destination for mineral exploration and production, the premier noted. The strategy includes six pillars to strengthen resources that raise awareness of Manitoba’s significant critical minerals advantage, advance Indigenous partnerships, support geoscience research, streamline regulatory processes, attract value-added processing and manufacturing, and train a skilled workforce.

“Global demand for critical minerals is increasing at an incredible rate and Manitoba is ready to rise to those demands. Today, we’re showing that Manitoba is open for business,” said Stefanson. “It’s time to make Manitoba a ‘have’ province instead of a ‘have-not’ province. Our government’s vision for Manitoba’s economic future will provide good jobs, grow local industries and increase provincial revenues to help pay for the services we rely on like health care and education.”

Manitoba is home to 29 of the 31 minerals on Canada’s 2021 Critical Minerals List. This includes lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt, copper and rare earth elements, which are the six minerals recognized as having the greatest opportunity to spur economic growth and fuel domestic supply chains. The vision of the new strategy is to ensure Manitoba’s minerals sector grows and prospers in ways that respect the land, natural resources and people, and drives sustainable economic growth that meets the province’s high environmental and social standards, the premier added.

“Manitoba is known for its abundant natural resources, rich mineral deposits and a history of mining that has been an essential part of its past economic growth and provincial prosperity,” said Wharton. “Our government is proud to present our new critical minerals strategy to the world and eager to capitalize on the opportunities ahead. Combined with Manitoba’s competitive trade advantages, we are confident we will witness a significant expansion of our mining and critical minerals industries that will bring benefits and improve quality of life for all Manitobans.”

The strategy builds on a resurgence of the mineral sector in Manitoba, the premier and minister noted, adding that several new actions have been identified by the strategy to support mineral exploration and mining in the province including:

  • establishing a Mining Advisory Leadership Table with Indigenous groups to strengthen relationships, explore revenue sharing and establish a community capacity building fund;
  • establishing a geoscience fund to support critical mineral work by Manitoba’s post-secondary institutions to increase public data, and collaborating with the federal government to leverage research and funds to further identify and assess critical mineral deposits in Manitoba;
  • ensuring Manitoba’s Mineral Exploration Tax Credit is aligned with the new federal Critical Mineral Exploration Tax Credit;
  • collaborating with industry in leveraging the federal Strategic Innovation Fund to invest in downstream mineral processing and build local value chains, as well as creating new incentives to attract and grow local processing and manufacturing of Manitoba’s critical minerals; and
  • providing support to advance the delivery of a northern mining conference.

One action that aligns directly with the strategy is the Manitoba government’s support for additional exploration by the Potash and Agri Development Corporation of Manitoba (PADCOM), Manitoba’s first-ever potash mining operation, Wharton noted.

PADCOM began pilot production at its facility in Harrowby in June, and has since requested and been issued an agreement for the exclusive right to explore for potash owned by the Crown in the surrounding area, Wharton noted, adding that through the Communities Economic Development Fund, PADCOM is also receiving a $1.03-million loan, which will expedite electrification of the mine site and eliminate its reliance on diesel.

The potash mining operation’s work advances the growth of critical mineral development in the province and works hand in hand with Gambler First Nation to support economic opportunities for First Nations in the mining sector, Wharton said.

“PADCOM is pleased the Manitoba government has recognized and supported our efforts to develop Manitoba’s potash resource using a low-impact, green sustainable mining technique,” said Daymon Guillas, president, PADCOM. “Access to explore more of the potash resource, in partnership with Gambler First Nation, will allow us to evolve from pilot stage to commercial production, including more investment in mining activity and logistics to get Manitoba potash to the world and this will benefit all Manitobans.”

The actions and pillars of the strategy were shaped by input and feedback from industry associations, Indigenous communities, academic institutions and local mineral exploration companies.

“I am pleased the First Nations, Indigenous and local communities were well engaged on the development of the critical minerals strategy,” said Chief David LeDoux, Gambler First Nation. “We know we need to work together as true partners to fully realize Manitoba’s potential to meet world demand while respecting the land, our heritage and our people.”

The goals of the strategy will be measured to ensure continued progress, and inform future strategy enhancements, such as modernizing the protection of heritage resources, the minister noted, adding that reforms will reduce red tape, increase productivity, and support predictable and transparent permitting processes by:

  • clarifying the requirement for a Heritage Resource Impact Assessment, where there are no recorded heritage sites, applies to the extraction cycle and not the exploration cycle;
  • developing a Heritage Resource Protection Plan to provide tips for identifying heritage objects and ensure industry is informed of best practices and reporting requirements should heritage objects be encountered during exploration; and
  • recording information gained through engagement and consultation with Indigenous communities that provides insight into sensitive and culturally significant sites, and incorporating permit conditions to mitigate potential impacts.

“Critical minerals play a major role as building blocks toward a cleaner environment,” said John Morris, co-director, Mining Association of Manitoba Inc. “Today’s critical minerals strategy brings focus to Manitoba’s many critical minerals including copper, lithium and nickel.”

“We at Grid Metals are appreciative of the significant ongoing support to the mining industry shown by the Manitoba government and in particular the initiatives outlined today in the critical minerals strategy,” said Robin Dunbar, president and CEO, Grid Metals. “We look forward to advancing our projects together with our First Nations partners in light of this favourable regulatory and policy framework.”

Manitoba has seen a substantial increase in mineral exploration over the last three years, with $67.7 million in expenditures in 2020, $99.2 million in 2021, and $170 million in 2022, the highest level of exploration expenditures in the history of the province. The province ranked 14th for investment attractiveness in the Fraser Institute’s 2022 Survey of Mining Companies, a positive shift from 32nd in 2021, and 37th in 2020. Nearly 50 companies are currently exploring for critical minerals in Manitoba, and the Manitoba government is working to achieve a top 10 ranking in the coming years, Wharton noted.

The Manitoba Critical Minerals Strategy will be followed up with the Manitoba Minerals Action Plan, which will outline concrete and specific actions to achieve Manitoba’s mineral sector potential. The action plan will be informed through the Manitoba government’s continued engagement with industry stakeholders and Indigenous governments, and will establish clear indicators to monitor and evaluate progress and success. The plan is expected to be released in spring 2024, the minister noted.

This strategy also aligns with the Opportunities for Economic Growth Action Plan, a comprehensive set of 50 tangible, focused and strategic actions that the Manitoba government is advancing in partnership with stakeholders and the private sector to create a stronger economic future for Manitobans, the premier noted.


To view the Manitoba Critical Minerals Strategy, Click here