Manitoba’s government touted its credentials as a mining-focused and mining-friendly jurisdiction in the first week of March, sending a delegation to the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto and announcing mineral-related funding for various organizations and companies.
Economic Development Minister Jeff Wharton said in a March 6 press release that Manitoba’s representatives at the conference, which attracted more than 1,100 visitors, 2,500 investors and 23,000 attendees, would be holding discussions and meetings with industry stakeholders and also distributing technical and marketing materials to conference participants.
Among the highlights of the mining industry in Manitoba noted by the province were 150,000 metres of exploratory nickel drilling by Vale Manitoba Operations in the Thompson area over the past two years, and the fact that about 60 companies have exploration permits in Manitoba, over 70 per cent of whom are looking for critical minerals.
The government also said it was providing $1.8 million in grants to the Mining Association of Manitoba, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and Communities Economic Development Corporation to support activities related to mineral development and Indigenous participation, though it did not spell out how much each of those groups would be receiving.
The government’s vagueness did not discourage the mining association from welcoming the funding however.
“We look forward to working with the province and mines branch, and expect there will be further announcements in the coming months as we apply this funding towards positive initiatives and programming that will benefit the mining sector, people and communities,” said mining association president Stacy Kennedy, who took over as the permanent head of Vale Manitoba Operations on March 1. “All Manitobans stand to benefit from an increased focus on mineral development and production here at home."
Vale announced at the PDAC that it was contributing $1.6 million over three years to the University of Toronto for research on sustainable mining solutions, including a project focusing on improving commercial recovery of low-grade nickel-containing ultramafic ores like those around Thompson.
The same day that the province pumped up its desirability as a mining destination, it also announced that the Manitoba Mineral Development Fund had approved conditional funding totalling $1.7 for five projects, including 55 North in Lynn Lake, Boreal Gold in Flin Flon, Foremost Lithium in Snow Lake, Calliniex Mines in Flin Flon and Alamos Gold in Lynn Lake, which received federal environmental approval for its Lynn Lake open pit gold mining project that same day and has been granted a provincial Environment Act licence.
“Strategic investments in mining, like in the MMDF, are key to a thriving provincial economy and placing Manitoba as a world leader for responsible mineral development,” Wharton said. “Our government is committed to continuing to responsibly build on Manitoba’s rich natural resources to attract new investment in the mining sector. The MMDF also enables us to foster strong partnerships with Indigenous communities in mineral development activities that benefit the economy and the province as a whole.”
A government spokesperson was unable to provide a breakdown of dollar amounts or details about the specific projects being funded. The MMDF provides funding for things like mineral exploration and for projects involving First Nations, other Indigenous organizations and municipalities for training and economic development activities. It is supported by an initial government investment of $20 million as well as up to six per cent of annual Mining Tax Act tax revenues. Since 2020, the government says it has approved 50 mineral exploration projects with total funding of $7.7 million.
“Advancing mineral exploration projects is critical to creating lasting economic benefits to communities in Northern Manitoba,” said Chuck Davidson, MMDF board chair and CEO of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, which administers the fund. “The MMDF is excited to support exploration projects and to see future partnerships emerge from these projects.”