About critical minerals

Critical minerals are a subset of the raw materials needed to produce many products and specialized technologies. The minerals that a jurisdiction deems “critical” depends on its geology, as well as its own domestic and economic priorities. The term generally applies to minerals that have specific industrial, technological and strategic applications. They do not have many viable alternatives, meaning if a critical mineral is not available, there aren’t many other minerals that can be used in its place. These minerals are also at higher supply risk due to geopolitical considerations and market demand.

Sectors that depend on critical minerals include:

  • information and communications technology
  • clean technology
  • energy
  • transportation (industrial, commercial and passenger)
  • aerospace and defence
  • health and life sciences

Critical minerals are important to our everyday lives. New technology and high-growth sector markets are looking for suppliers of responsibly and sustainably sourced critical minerals.

Ontario’s critical minerals

Ontario produces minerals considered critical by other jurisdictions. Ontario also needs critical minerals for local industries, high-growth sectors and supply chains. Ontario’s mining and processing capacity is vital in contributing to much-needed global supply, as is the province’s refining capacity to produce intermediate and pure products of nickel, cobalt, copper, platinum group elements and refined uranium. Minerals mined in the province are part of a globally integrated supply chain and Ontario minerals are used in products worldwide. We have immense exploration and mineral development potential for critical minerals.

The proposed critical minerals list includes:

  • minerals with exploration potential
  • advanced mineral projects
  • minerals currently being produced and/or processed
  • minerals that are processed only and not originally mined in Ontario.
Proposed critical minerals list

Minerals with exploration potential

Advanced mineral projects

Minerals being produced

Minerals that are currently processed only

  • Antimony
  • Beryllium
  • Bismuth
  • Cesium
  • Fluorspar
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Phosphate
  • Rare earth elements
  • Tantalum
  • Tin
  • Titanium
  • Tungsten
  • Vanadium
  • Zirconium
  • Barite
  • Chromite
  • Graphite
  • Lithium
  • Magnesium
  • Niobium
  • Uranium

How critical minerals are used

Critical minerals are used in many different industries and are found in many products you have at home and work.

New technologies are transforming the way we live and work, and critical minerals are at the forefront of these changes. Around the world, governments are implementing policies that are accelerating innovative technology production that relies heavily on critical minerals as raw resources, as well as implementing policies surrounding electric vehicles, clean energy and information communications technology.

The adoption of new technologies is being accelerated by the:

  • environmental impacts of climate change
  • shift to a low-carbon economy
Critical minerals can be found in…
Technology/Sector How minerals are used
Icon of an electric car.

Batteries (electric vehicles, energy storage systems and mining equipment) use cobalt, lithium, manganese, nickel and graphite as well as copper for related infrastructure.

Icon of a battery and the hydrogen element from the periodic table.

Hydrogen fuel cells, a subset of battery technology, use platinum group elements.

Icon of a computer monitor and a smartphone.

Electronics (laptops, LED monitors and smartphones) use indium and rare earth elements.

Icon of an airplane.

Aerospace and defence (military defence systems, steel and super-alloys) use beryllium, chromium, cobalt, nickel and titanium.

Icon of a tractor.

Agricultural technologies (fertilizer and livestock feed) use cobalt, copper, phosphate, selenium and zinc.

Icon of a solar panel.

Renewable energy (solar cells and panels) use copper, indium and tellurium.

Icon of an MRI machine.

Medical equipment and technologies (cardiac implants, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines, monitoring devices and fibres for prosthetic devices) use zinc, platinum group elements, rare earth elements, titanium and nickel.

Critical minerals also play a major role in the future of low- and zero-emission vehicles and transportation. Use of battery technology has increased dramatically and is expected to grow in the future. Battery technology is important in the electric vehicles market.

Bloomberg’s “Electric Vehicle Outlook 2020” projected that, by 2040, over half of all passenger vehicles sold globally will be electric.

Opportunities for critical minerals in Ontario

Countries are accelerating their efforts to secure supplies of critical minerals. There is also increasing interest in getting raw minerals that are responsibly and sustainably sourced.

Ontario is well-positioned to be a global supplier of critical minerals owing to its unique geology, processing capacity and world-class mining supply and services sector.

Ontario’s minerals and mining sector

Ontario produced over $10 billion worth of minerals in 2019.

Minerals mined in Ontario are part of a globally integrated supply chain and are used in many products worldwide.

Mineral potential

Our diverse geology and immense mineral potential make Ontario well-positioned to:

  • develop critical minerals projects
  • create opportunities for explorers to make new discoveries

Ontario has a wide range of mineral deposits, including both metallic and non-metallic minerals.

Supply chains

Ontario is an ideal location for mineral exploration and investment due to our:

  • rich mineral endowment
  • favourable investment environment
  • processing capabilities
  • proximity to Canadian and American manufacturing hubs

Mining sector innovation

Ontario has a world-class mining supply and services sector. Cutting-edge research and development in our universities, colleges and research institutes help make mineral exploration and mining in Ontario more efficient, safer and better for the environment.

Critical minerals strategy

Ontario is developing a critical minerals strategy as part of our commitment to:

  • drive investment in Ontario’s mining sector
  • reduce red tape while maintaining public health and safety and respecting the environment and Aboriginal and treaty rights
  • create jobs in Ontario’s mining sector and other industries

Our vision for critical minerals includes:

  • generating investment
  • increasing our competitiveness in global markets
  • supporting the transition to a cleaner, sustainable global economy

How you can get involved

We released a discussion paper for public consultation on the Environmental Registry of Ontario to help inform the development of Ontario’s critical minerals strategy.  The consultation period for the discussion paper closed on June 11, 2021.

We are now seeking input on two proposals that emerged during engagement on the discussion paper:

Provide your feedback by December 6, 2021. To provide feedback you can either:

  • submit your comments for each proposal through the Environmental Registry of Ontario
  • e-mail us at criticalminerals@ontario.ca. Attach your comments as a PDF or Word document
  • send a letter, which includes the name of your organization (if applicable) to:

Director’s Office, Strategic Services Branch
Mines and Minerals Division
Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry
933 Ramsey Lake Road, 2nd Floor
Sudbury, Ontario
P3E 6B5

 


Footnotes

Updated: October 20, 2021
Published: March 08, 2021