Akin to 2020’s auto industry boom, 2021 will be the year of the electric vehicle boom. This year’s uptick of EV activity will be due to a few factors, including global moves towards a greener future and government involvement in the sector. And given that copper, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, and steel are all key components used to make electric-vehicle batteries and other parts, it’s clear that Ontario stands to benefit from an EV boom.
In today’s article, we’ll be discussing some companies and other entities that are bringing their electric vehicle operations to Northern Ontario cities—including Sudbury, Timmins, and Sault Ste. Marie—and the impact this will have on the job and real estate markets in these cities.
- Ontario has the most active mining projects in Canada. Meanwhile, Sudbury and Timmins have the highest concentration of mining and exploration operations in all of Ontario.
- Sudbury is home to 320 mining companies, employing 14,000 people. This number will grow as EV giants, such as Tesla, invest in the city’s sources of nickel, copper, cobalt, gold, and silver.
- Sudbury also has the highest concentration of post-secondary mining programs in the country. Both Cambrian College and Collège Boréal have announced new EV related programming.
- Timmins is a source of gold, silver, zinc, copper, and nickel. Electric vehicle activity in Timmins includes Canadian Nickel’s Crawford mine, poised to the world’s largest nickel sulphide mine.
- Like Sudbury, Timmins’ Northern College will offer programming to train technicians in the maintenance of battery electric vehicles used in the mining industry in the coming years. The hope is to build a local pool of talent to fuel the expanding EV sector.
- In the coming years, Sault Ste. Marie could become home to a proposed Noront Resources’ ferrochrome production facility. Once up-and-running, the facility would add thousands of jobs to the market.
- Sault Ste. Marie has recieved foreign trading zone (FTZ) designation. This will be beneficial for companies with electric vehicle operations within Sault Ste. Marie, as well as companies with EV operations in the surrounding cities.
Canada’s EV agenda
Right now, we’re seeing support for the electric vehicle industry on a global scale. In Canada, support is in the form of billion dollar investments into EV from the government and large-scale corporations, including Fiat Chrysler and General Motors. In conjunction with a significant reduction in the cost of doing business in Canada (through lowered taxes and electricity costs), the EV sector has nowhere to go but up.
Ontario has the most active mining projects in Canada, at 1,195—including prospective projects as well as permitted projects. Narrowing that down further, Sudbury and Timmins have the highest concentration of mining and exploration operations in all of Ontario.
Electric vehicle activity in Sudbury
Sudbury‘s network of mines are a source of nickel, copper, cobalt, gold, and silver. Given that there are approximately 320 companies related to mining in Greater Sudbury, it’s unsurprising that the city’s mining operations are a significant driver of the job market, real estate market, and overall economy. The industry currently employs about 14,000 people, and that number is forecasted to rise as the EV sector booms.
The EV boom (and more broadly, the commodity boom) will no doubt coincide with growing demand for housing in the city, as it has historically. Below, we explore some of the activities that will drive EV-related commodity exploration in Sudbury.
Tesla needs nickel
Sudbury is home to the Sudbury Basin: one of the world’s most significant nickel centres. It is predicted that the Sudbury Basin ore deposits will last for at least the next century. Because of its connections to nickel—a key component of EV batteries—the city has become attractive to industry giants, including Tesla. Tesla is in talks with Vale to set up operations in Sudbury.
Cambrian College and Collège Boréal offer EV programming
Sudbury has the highest concentration of post-secondary mining programs in the country, contributing to its repute for being a “Silicon Valley of the mining sector.” To that end, Cambrian College received funding of $250,000 late last year to establish a laboratory for the study of battery-powered vehicles. The battery electric vehicle laboratory (BEVL) will cost $2.8 million and will support the global market of off-highway or non-commercial vehicle electric equipment. This year, Collège Boréal also announced that they will be offering a three-part, 40-hour training course in maintenance of battery electric vehicles.
Electric vehicle activity in Timmins
Timmins is known for excavating two precious metals: silver and gold. In fact, the city is the world’s second-largest gold producer, home to the Hollinger Open pit and the Dome, Hollinger, and McIntyre Mines. This is particularly significant to the EV boom because gold and silver are used in the circuit boards in electric vehicles.
Though Timmins is best known for gold, the city’s network of mines are also a source of zinc, copper, and nickel. Present and future exploration and excavation of these materials will contribute to the city’s up-and-coming economy and real estate market in a big way, as more people flock to the city for employment.
In 2020, Timmins’ mining and quarrying industry employed 3,046 persons, making it one of the city’s largest industries (if not the largest). We explore some of the activities that will drive future EV-related commodity exploration in Timmins below.
Junior excavation companies explore for gold
The recent hike in gold prices has spurred junior companies to bolster their operations in Timmins, adding jobs to the market. Some of these junior companies include Galleon Gold, McLaren Resources, and Affinity Metals.
Canada Nickel begins a nickel-cobalt sulphide project
Canadian Nickel has recently started up operations in Timmins’ Crawford mine. So far, the company has reported that Crawford is the 12th largest nickel sulphide deposit in the world after drilling only 20 percent of the mine. The Crawford mine is poised to become the largest nickel sulphide mine in the world. In addition, an emerging startup is considering Timmins’ Met Site for their operations involving nickel-cobalt and magnetite processing—a move that would be advantageous to Canadian Nickel’s operations.
Northern College offers battery electric vehicle maintenance training
In conjunction with Sandvik Mining & Rock Technology, Timmins’ Northern College are in talks of developing a program to train technicians in the maintenance of battery electric vehicles used in the mining industry. The aim of the investment is to create a local pool of talent and hire locally as Timmins’ EV segment expands.
Electric vehicle activity in Sault Ste. Marie
Unlike Sudbury and Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie isn’t home to literal mining operations. That said, the city is known for its advanced manufacturing sector and is home to Algoma Steel, Tenaris, Algoma Tubes, Arauco North America, and McDougall Energy, (amongst others), and will soon be home to a ferrochrome production facility.
Noront Resources’ upcoming ferrochrome production facility
Sault Ste. Marie’s Algoma Steel site is the proposed location for Noront Resources’ ferrochrome production facility. This would be a one-billion-dollar investment that would add thousands of jobs to the market. The facility is predicted to employ up to 500 persons directly and over 1,000 indirectly.
This is significant because ferrochrome is utilized in the production of stainless steel, which is flame-, heat-, and corrosion-resistant. These are all essential properties for use in EVs. In addition to steel, Noront explores and develops nickel, copper, gold, and silver—all of which are key components used to make electric-vehicle batteries and other parts.
Mineral mining activity neighbouring Sault Ste. Marie
Though the City of Sault Ste. Marie is more focused on manufacturing than mining, there is active mineral exploration in townships neighbouring the city. We’ve included a few notable projects below, ranging from established excavation companies to junior ventures.
- Alamos Gold has begun excavation of the Island Gold Mine in Dubreuilville. Drilling results indicate that the mine is a notable source of gold. As such, the company has announced plans to go ahead with an expansion of the Island Gold Mine.
- Argonaut Gold is on the brink of aa $300-million excavation of Dubreuilville’s Magino Mine, set to commence this year. The project is expected to create as many as 550 construction jobs and 350 mining jobs.
- Manitou Gold Inc. is currently excavating for gold in the Jacobson Township (District of Algoma), with plans to expand operations to Sudbury’s Rennie Township.
- IAMGOLD Corporation began excavating the Côté Gold Mine Project this year. The Côté mine is about 500 kilometres northeast of Sault Ste. Marie and is now under construction at Gogama, where more gold is being discovered.
- Wesdome Gold Mines Inc.’s Eagle River Mine Complex, located west of Wawa, produced 87,560 ounces of gold in 2020. They are expecting to produce 92,000 to 105,000 ounces of gold in 2021.
- Red Pine Exploration Inc. has relaunched field activities and drilling at its Wawa Gold Project. Initial drilling results indicate that the site has zones of high-grade gold mineralization.
- Sudbury company, Transition Metals, will soon begin exploration just north of Sault Ste. Marie. Historically, the southeastern shore of Lake Superior has shown signs of possible iron oxide copper gold deposits.
Sault Ste. Marie receives foreign trading zone (FTZ) designation
Additionally, Sault Ste. Marie has recently received official designation as a foreign trade zone (FTZ) point. It will be the first FTZ point in Northern Ontario and one of 15 in Canada. FTZ status means that the city will now offer exemptions from duties, tariffs, and taxes for businesses engaged in importing and exporting, which will be beneficial for companies with electric vehicle operations within Sault Ste. Marie, as well as companies with EV operations in the surrounding cities.