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Province’s mineral development fund has approved more than $1 million to support exploration efforts so far in 2022

Fund is also supporting local economic development to help Northern Manitoba communities’ efforts to retain current residents and attract newcomers.

Economic Development Minister Cliff Cullen announced more than $1.6 million of projects approved for funding from the Manitoba Mineral Development Fund at the Communities Economic Development Fund office in Thompson May 9, the second of back-to-back government spending announcements in the city, the first one highlighting $11 million for a new pool.

Established with a $20 million initial investment in 2019 as a successor to the Mining Communities Reserve Fund, the MMDF receives six per cent of mining taxes the provincial government collects annually. Communities, businesses and organizations including Indigenous groups, municipalities and not-for-profit entities can apply for funding and assistance can include one-time grants for activities to advance new mining opportunities and outreach to First Nations for collaborative resource development. Funding applications are decided on by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce.

More than $1 million of the funding approved in the first quarter of 2002 is going to support mineral exploration activities by mining and exploration companies such as Snow Lake Lithium, Wolfden Resources Corporation, which is also operating in the Snow Lake area, KG Exploration and Willeson Metals.

Manitoba chambers president Chuck Davidson said the MMDF funding these companies received amounts to no more than 25 per cent of their total project costs, meaning that the fund’s investments are supporting at least $3 million more in mineral exploration activity.

“A lot of these are the juniors that are looking at potential new mines for Manitoba,” he said.

Interest in certain minerals, particularly those like nickel and lithium that are instrumental in the manufacturing of electric vehicle batteries, is on the upswing right now, Davidson said.

“If we can assist on the exploration side, that’s the potential for new mines,” said Cullen. “And that’s really the economic development that we’re all looking for.”

In addition to exploration, MMDF also supports community development projects in the hopes that more economically resilient communities with more amenities and services to offer will make things easier for the companies that operate there to entice people to stay or to move there for employment.

“It’s about attracting labour,” said Cullen. “Everywhere we go, it’s a competition for labour, so anything we can do to help make communities more labour-friendly, it helps companies like Vale.”

Manitoba also needs to promote itself as a mining-friendly jurisdiction.

“We do have world-class minerals here in Manitoba but we as a government have to make sure that we’re telling the world that we have these products available,” Cullen said. “The other thing is for us is to make sure that we’re creating the right policies to make Manitoba attractive to that type of investment.”