Northern development minister Greg Rickford said environmental groups that continue to target Northern Ontario's mining industry are missing the boat if they do not support the new Ontario critical minerals strategy.
Rickford recently made reference to Ontario environmental policy when he announced a $1.5-million grant to the Science North Go Deeper Project.
Rickford told the audience at Dynamic Earth that more mining companies and businesses are getting involved in the extraction of critical minerals for the electric vehicles market because it will make such a significant change. Rickford said this involves major and junior mining companies, agencies such as Science North and Indigenous organizations.
"Because really, they want to be part of the single biggest environmental policy any jurisdiction has ever advanced the world over," Rickford said.
"And that is the need for critical minerals to be involved in electric vehicle and electric battery power from exploration to electric engines that work for anybody," he added.
In an interview, Rickford acknowledged that Northern Ontario mining projects are targeted by environmental groups, but he said there will be no such thing as a green economy in Ontario unless it involves the mining industry. He said the green movement has to accept that.
"The choice is theirs," Rickford said, but in his opinion environmental groups should “rally behind the critical minerals strategy and the efforts that we're making to ensure that Northern Ontario is a significant contributor to a greener economy.”
"There is no such thing as a green economy without mining,” the minister said. “So if an environmentalist wants to take issue with mining, check your iPhone, that's your critical minerals. Think about your electric vehicle. Think about battery storage. That's coming from critical minerals. We have them in exquisite quantities and qualities here in the North," Rickford said.
The cabinet minister added that not only does the North have the minerals, it also has a commitment to high standards for workers and the environment.
"We have some of the highest labour standards in the world. We're getting better every single day at our engagement and involvement with Indigenous communities. And of course, we're offering up an array of critical minerals that respects jurisdictions around the world, and that's why they're coming to visit us. Get on board."
Len Gillis covers health care and mining for Sudbury.com.