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Canada Nickel looking to build two processing facilities in Timmins

Toronto mine developer looks to break ground on zero-emission project in mid-2025

A Toronto nickel company is seeking to position Timmins as a global source of clean critical minerals. 

Timmins MPP George Pirie, the provincial minister of mines, was in town Feb. 8 for Canada Nickel's announcement that it's developing two processing facilities — one for nickel and another for stainless-steel and alloy production. The facilities would be the downstream processing element for its proposed Crawford open-pit nickel mine. 

When complete, Canada Nickel CEO Mark Selby said the nickel processing facility will be the largest in North America, while the stainless-steel and alloy production will be the largest in Canada. 

"Each of these plants will be designed to utilize our carbon storage capacity at Crawford, and allow each of these facilities to be world-leading zero carbon facilities: zero carbon nickel, and zero carbon steel," said Selby during the announcement.

"As nickel demand is set to more than double over the next 10 years, this nickel-processing capacity fills a critical link in the supply chain from mining critical minerals through to electric vehicle manufacturing."

The company provided no price tag on the processing plants, nor mentioned how it would be financed. But Selby told reporters he hoped to have financing in place by year's end.

Crawford is Canada Nickel's proposed open-pit, zero-emission operation located 40 kilometres north of Timmins. The mine project has an estimated 41-year operating life.

Right now, the company is looking at potential sites in the Timmins area for the new processing facilities.

Existing brownfield sites, including Glencore's Kidd Metallurgical processing sites, are being considered.

Ideally, Selby said that the facilities would be on one site. Because nickel is used to create stainless steel, he said, some of the local nickel will be used at the stainless steel plant and some will be shipped off to be used in battery production.

"We're also in the final stages of choosing engineering firms to complete the designs of both facilities and we'll be announcing those selections shortly. Feasibility studies are underway and are expected to be completed by the end of this year," said Selby.

Canada Nickel started in 2019 and is hoping to break ground on the Crawford project in mid-2025.

At the site, the job opportunities are expected to peak in the early operating years with over 900 jobs then level out to the 700 to 800 range. During the construction phase, 400 to 500 jobs are expected to be created.

The processing facilities will mean an extra 500 jobs, said Selby.

Right now at the Crawford site, Selby said geotechnical work is being done so that when the permits are lined up construction can start. Selby hopes to have the financing for the project in place by the end of this year.

The Porcupine mining camp is known for its gold production, along with base metals such as copper and zinc. 

Through Crawford and its other sites, Canada Nickel is working to position the city as a nickel district as well. 

"We are proud to lead the way in planning the development of new capacity to meet the growing demand for the local supply of critical minerals, and most importantly, zero carbon, environmentally responsible production in North America," said Selby in a news release.

Critical minerals such as nickel, copper and cobalt are needed for the electric vehicle market. They've been a focus for the Ontario government, with the province even creating a five-year critical mineral strategy. 

For Pirie, a retired mining executive and former Timmins mayor who is now the Ontario minister of mines, he believes the city's best mining days are still ahead.

"What we're doing is totally unique because we are processing and mining the minerals and we're matching with the battery and auto sector in southern Ontario, and we're doing it in a green fashion, carbon-neutral, sequestering the carbon, and it's all here in Ontario," he said.

He's also excited about what Canada Nickel's work means for Timmins.

"Timmins is proud of the world-class mining operations we have here and we can't wait to add more spur projects to the region. We want processing facilities in Timmins and having the value-added industries here at Timmins is what we want. It's what we've been striving for for decades," he said.

"This gives the next generation access to exciting career paths in mining or processing that will help them earn great wages and set them up to raise a family and have a wonderful life."

— TimminsToday