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Province announces Critical Minerals Talent Strategy

Strategy will help guide more people into mining workforce
Ontario Mines Minister George Pirie (left) joined OVIN head Raed Kadri in Sudbury on May 30 to announce the Critical Minerals Talent Strategy.

Ontario has announced a new strategy designed to train skilled workers for jobs in the mining industry, inclusive of the battery supply chain, in an effort to meet burgeoning demand for the production of battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

The Critical Minerals Talent Strategy, administered through the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN), was announced by Ontario’s mines minister, George Pirie, during the second day of the BEV In Depth battery electric vehicle conference, being held in Sudbury May 29-30.

It’s directly related to one of the pillars of the province’s Critical Minerals Strategy, announced nearly two years ago, which is to grow the labour supply and develop a skilled workforce.

“OVIN’s Critical Minerals Talent Strategy is a roadmap for government and industry alike, producing a clear path forward on how government and industry can and must work together,” Pirie said.

“Because working together, we can achieve the goals of the Critical Minerals Strategy by building the workforce that will be able to keep up with the mining industry’s ever-increasing need for skilled workers.”

The Critical Minerals Talent Strategy features a comprehensive study of the anticipated workforce needs, challenges in meeting those needs, and what opportunities there are for talent development, he noted.

According to OVIN, the province will need between between 30,000 and 48,000 new workers by the year 2040 to meet demand. But Pirie believes that’s a conservative view.

He rattled off a list of mining projects currently underway in the North: the recently opened Côté Lake gold mine in Gogama, billion-dollar projects being led by Vale and Glencore in the Sudbury area, Alamos Gold’s billion-dollar investments in new projects in Wawa and Kirkland Lake, Agnico Eagle’s expansion of Detour Gold northeast of Timmins, and the yet-to-be-developed Ring of Fire.

All these assets need workers to pull minerals out of the ground, he noted, and so the need for skilled workers has never been more pressing.

“We have that much going on here in Northern Ontario,” Pirie said. “So we're absolutely going to need the talent.”

The development of the Critical Minerals Talent Strategy was a collaborative effort by the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade; the Ministry of Northern Development; the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs; and the Ministry of Mines, in consultation with mining companies, postsecondary institutions, and Indigenous communities that are being impacted by mining projects.

Raed Kadri, head of OVIN, called it a “whole-of-Ontario approach” that will build on the province’s reputation as a “global leader in the responsible sourcing of critical minerals.”

Highlights of the strategy include engaging with younger generations early on to raise awareness about careers in the sector; increasing access to training and education programs; promoting meaningful engagement of women and other underrepresented groups; and building on long-term trust and partnership with Indigenous communities.

“Through these, it is our hope and vision that Ontario will have the workforce it needs to build a resilient, end-to-end EV and battery supply chain and reinforce our province’s over 100 years’ history of automotive excellence,” Kadri said.