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  • Stephen Lecce, MPP

Ontario Investing in Critical Minerals Supply Chain for Electric Vehicles

THUNDER BAY – The Ontario government is increasing funding for the Ontario Junior Exploration Program (OJEP) to help more companies find critical minerals such as nickel and cobalt, which are necessary to support the growing supply chain for electric vehicles, and create jobs for northern and Indigenous communities.


The funding was announced as part of the 2023 Budget: Building a Strong Ontario and includes an additional $6 million over the next two years for this successful program, bringing the government’s total investment in OJEP to $35 million.

“Our government is taking a comprehensive approach to unlock the economic potential of Northern Ontario," said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “This critical minerals approach is part of our government’s plan to build Ontario’s economy by attracting investment and creating jobs so we can lay a strong foundation for future generations. This is the right plan to build a strong Ontario now and in the future."

Launched in 2021, OJEP helps junior mining companies finance early exploration projects by covering eligible costs for critical and precious mineral exploration and development. So far, 48 junior mining companies have received funding and in turn, they have invested an additional $17.5 million in these projects.

“Unlocking Northern Ontario’s critical minerals is key to the economy of the future,” said George Pirie, Minister of Mines. “Through our investments in programs like the Ontario Junior Exploration Program, our government is connecting these resources to the world‐class manufacturing capabilities in southern Ontario. In doing so, we are strengthening the province’s position as the place to build the cars of the future.”

The province has also invested $5 million in the Critical Minerals Innovation Fund, which supports Ontario-based companies that are leading the development of new mining technologies focused on building the critical minerals supply chain, bringing Ontario’s total critical minerals investment to $40 million.

“The Ontario Prospectors Association is pleased to see an expansion of funding for OJEP,” said Garry Clark, President of the Ontario Prospectors Association. “This important program not only provides junior exploration companies the resources they need to expand their budgets to find and develop mineral deposits that have the potential to become significant mines, but also helps attract more explorers and companies to Ontario.”

The Ontario government’s 2023 budget, Building a Strong Ontario, is helping drive economic growth, attract jobs and investments, and build key infrastructure projects faster. The government’s plan is also training skilled workers to fill in-demand jobs, keeping costs down for those who need it the most, and providing better services for the people of Ontario.


Quick Facts

  • The Ontario Junior Exploration Program covers up to 50 per cent of eligible costs to a maximum of $200,000 per project.

  • To be eligible to apply for funding, junior mining companies must have a market capitalization of up to $100 million, or a comparable value, if they are privately owned.

  • To date, OJEP has invested nearly $7.5 million in funding to 48 companies – 33 of them exploring for critical minerals – leveraging an additional $17.5 million in investment from industry.

  • Ontario’s mining sector is a significant economic driver, supporting 75,000 jobs in the mining industry.

  • The Government of Ontario is focused on becoming a supplier, producer and manufacturer of critical minerals needed for electric vehicles including nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum group elements.

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