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Having nickel in Timmins 'extremely attractive', says CEO

'We think we’re in the early phase of unlocking an entire nickel district'
Canada Nickel CEO Mark Selby talks at the Timmins Chamber's State of Mining event on Feb. 23, 2023.

A mine developer says Timmins is in the early phase of unlocking a nickel district.

Canada Nickel CEO Mark Selby gave an update on its Crawford Project today at the Timmins Chamber's State of Mining event. 

Crawford is a proposed open-pit mine 40 kilometres north of the city. It's slated to be a zero-emission operation. 

“This would be one of the largest nickel sulphide mines globally. Based on the scale of the resource that’s there it has the potential to be even larger. If you look at total Canadian production last year was about 120,000 tonnes and we’re looking at producing more than 40,000 tonnes a year so it would be a meaningful increase in Canada’s nickel production going forward,” said Selby after the presentation.

Canada Nickel started in September 2019. Since then, Selby said the team has been working to rapidly advance the Crawford project.

“We do really want to break ground in mid-2025 and we’re pulling all the stops out trying to make that happen,” he said. 

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

Nickel isn't new to Northern Ontario.

Sudbury is known as the Big Nickel and Selby noted that it's played a "very important role" in the market for a long time.

With big shifts happening, he said having a big nickel project like Crawford is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

“We think we’re in the early phase of unlocking an entire nickel district, that there are going to be multiple Crawfords in and around this area,” he said.

Now is an opportunity for Timmins to reposition itself for the next 100 years, he said.

Primarily used to make stainless steel, Selby said nickel has been a high-growth market for the last 50 years.

That demand is increasing with a push for electric vehicles.

"Nickel has this wonderful property that if you’re making a battery it’s the metal that has the highest energy density that’s out there. What that means is if you want the longest range and the most juice in the battery you try and find ways to jam as much nickel into that battery as possible. Unfortunately, nickel is also the metal that makes batteries explode so they can’t make 100 per cent nickel battery yet,” he said.

With big trucks having nickel batteries, Selby said in the span of a decade the nickel supply needs to double from where it was in 2020. That means adding about three million tons of nickel by 2030.

He also noted some of the other regions globally that produce nickel and the challenges with supply.

“Having nickel in a location like Timmins is extremely attractive and we’re having lots of discussions with lots of car companies for supply,” he said.