Ontario Building Up Critical Minerals Supply Chain for Electric Vehicles
Ontario Building Up Critical Minerals Supply Chain for Electric Vehicles
Feb 16, 2023 4:52:00 PM

The Ontario government has invested $5.8 million to help junior mining companies explore for critical minerals used in manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles, smartphones, pharmaceuticals and advanced manufacturing technologies. This funding is part of the government’s Ontario Junior Exploration Program (OJEP) to help increase and expand mineral exploration, growth and job creation in the province, particularly in northern and Indigenous communities.

“These investments are an important part of our government's plan to build our economy as we support industry exploration for the critical minerals Ontario is blessed with,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We’re building a supply chain ecosystem, connecting resources and workers in the north to the future of clean steel and electric vehicles, and ensuring the cars of the future can be built in Ontario from start to finish by Ontario workers.”

Ontario is investing a total of $12 million over four years for critical mineral exploration in the OJEP. Since the launch of the program in 2021, 32 mining companies have received funding for exploration of minerals such as nickel, copper, cobalt and lithium. These companies have invested an additional $12.8 million in these projects.

“Early exploration is the first step to finding future mines including critical minerals,” said George Pirie, Minister of Mines. “The Ontario Junior Exploration Program is helping unlock the province’s vast mineral exploration potential and paving the way for unprecedented growth in our mining sector.”

The Ontario Junior Exploration Program has funded the following critical minerals mining projects:

  • $200,000 to VR Resources Ltd. to complete a drill program with eight holes
  • $200,000 to MacDonald Mines Exploration Ltd. to complete a drill program with eight holes
  • $200,000 to Tyko Resources Inc. to complete the Tyko Ni-Cu-PGE drilling program, consisting of nine holes
  • $172,000 to BTU Metals Corp. to complete a drill program with three holes
  • $150,000 to 5007223 Ontario Inc. to complete a diamond drill program with five holes, line cutting activities and an induced polarization (IP) survey
  • $71,857 to Transition Metals Corp. to complete an airborne geophysical survey over an area of 363 kilometres

“Our government will continue to make targeted investments that enhance growth in locally-driven mineral exploration while bolstering supply chains,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development. “By supporting early exploration, we are opening the door for economic development across the north that will lead to high quality full-time jobs and stronger communities.”

The province is currently accepting a third round of applications for the Ontario Junior Exploration Program. The deadline to apply is March 16, 2023. Details on the application process are available online.

Quick Facts

  • The Ontario Junior Exploration Program covers up to 50 per cent of eligible costs up to $200,000 for each project.
  • To be eligible to apply for funding, junior mining companies must have a market capitalization of up to $100 million, or a comparable value, if they are privately owned.
  • Since launching the Ontario Junior Exploration Program in 2021, Ontario committed $29 million over four years to the program. This includes $17 million for all types of minerals, and a new $12 million stream dedicated exclusively to critical minerals exploration.
  • Ontario’s mining sector is a significant economic driver, supporting 75,000 jobs in the mining industry.
  • The Government of Ontario is focused on creating the environment that will allow the province to become a key supplier, producer and manufacturer of critical minerals needed for electric vehicles including nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum group elements.


"The Ontario Prospectors Association supports the government’s Ontario Junior Exploration Program. Assistance programs allow explorers to complete additional exploration and attract junior explorers to the province. Exploration provides for economic stimulus in northern communities."

- Garry Clark
President, Ontario Prospectors Association

"OJEP funding made a real difference to VR’s REE critical metals discovery at Hecla-Kilmer in Northern Ontario. Hecla-Kilmer has a high proportion of the four rare earth elements essential for permanent magnets used in all electric vehicles and wind turbines. The funding from OJEP has helped us advance and evaluate a potential new and domestic supply of these important raw materials necessary for the rapidly emerging downstream EV industry in Ontario."

- Dr. Michael Gunning
President & CEO, VR Resources Ltd.

"The funding received from OJEP allowed MacDonald Mines Exploration Ltd. to incur additional work related to the exploration of critical metals at our 100 per cent owned SPJ greenfield project located in the Sudbury area. With the government identifying our project as one of the critical mineral exploration projects in the province, it also brought additional public awareness to the company."

- Greg Romain
President & CEO, MacDonald Mines Exploration Ltd.

"Junior companies like BTU Metals are always short of funds to explore their large land positions and to drill test their geological targets. The funding from OJEP allowed us to expand the geological understanding of a portion of the property where we had very little information. The support was certainly appreciated."

- Bruce Durham
VP Exploration, BTU Metals Corp.

"Transition Metals received funding from the Ontario Junior Exploration Program (OJEP), which has been invaluable in the advancement of its Maude Lake Ni-Cu-Co PGM and our Aylmer Cu-Au Projects. The program has enabled the company to increase its exploration efforts and access additional resources, helping to progress the projects much more rapidly. As a small junior company, we are continuously challenged to source appropriate capital to advance earlier stage projects and we are very appreciative for the support from the Ontario government – an investment that we believe will benefit all stakeholders in the coming years."

- Scott McLean
President & CEO, Transition Metals

"It is tremendous that our government continues to support and invest in early exploration to build Ontario's mining sector. “When you consider how many people are employed by local businesses that provide vital services and supplies in the integrated mining supply chain, every time a mine opens in northern Ontario, Sault Ste. Marie wins!"

- Ross Romano
MPP for Sault Ste. Marie

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