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Sudbury’s economy to get ‘massive’ boost from electric vehicles

Delegates from government, the mining industry, mining supply, auto industry and battery development companies converge on the Nickel City for BEV In Depth, a major conference on the future of battery electric vehicles

Greater Sudbury’s first ever municipal conference to explore the commercial viability of the battery electric vehicle (BEV) industry was told Wednesday that massive economic opportunities will exist in Sudbury and Northern Ontario because of it.

The conference — BEV In Depth — is being held at Science North, hosted by Greater Sudbury Economic Development with delegates from government, the mining industry, mining supply industry, the auto industry and the battery development companies.

As the demand grows for more battery electric vehicles, so does the demand for new automotive and industrial batteries large enough and efficient enough to provide sustainable power to cars, trucks and mining vehicles in Canada.

Sudbury is setting out to stake its claim in the game since modern batteries require significant amounts of premium-grade nickel, cobalt, copper and lithium — critical minerals that are all produced in Northern Ontario.

That was pointed out by Toronto Danforth MP Julie Dabrusin, who is also the parliamentary secretary to the federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and to the federal Minister of Natural Resources. She was a key speaker as the conference opened Wednesday night. 

“And now, as the world shifts to low carbon transportation models, the future has never looked better for those who mined and processed the riches buried in Sudbury Basin and other Greenstone belts in this region,” Dabrusin said.

“So make no mistake, the energy transition will be very mineral intensive, bringing massive economic opportunities,” Dabrusin told the conference.

She said that as an MP from downtown Toronto, she gets many calls from constituents concerned about climate change and what can be done about it.

Dabrusin said owning and driving an electric vehicle is now something most Canadians are planning for.

“You may not be driving an electric vehicle yet,” Dabrusin said. “But I'm guessing that sooner or later you will, and our children and our grandchildren will.”

She added that the International Energy Agency is forecasting there will be a demand for 43 million electric vehicles by 2030, just eight years from now, up from the two million units that were in demand in 2018.

“Even the most conservative estimates predict a multi-trillion-dollar global market economy that Canada cannot afford to ignore. That's why this government initiated the Mines to Mobility initiative, Canada's plan for a battery ecosystem to build up each segment of Canada's battery supply chain from mining and processing raw materials to assembling road ready electric vehicles,” Dabrusin said.

As she wrapped up her remarks, Dabrusin reminded the group that as a resident of Toronto she relies a lot on using her own bicycle to get around the city. She told the audience that even in a time of climate change and finding better transportation solutions, it was reassuring to know that even bicycles are made up of the many materials produced by the Canadian mining industry.

The conference continues throughout Thursday. The event includes a public display of battery electric mining vehicles and battery electric automobiles at the front courtyard of Science North.