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A REGION IN DEVELOPMENT

From mining and minerals to transmission and transportation, Northwestern Ontario is growing.

Developments in Critical Minerals

Critical minerals consist of the metals cobalt, copper, nickel, uranium, lithium, magnesium, platinum group metals, rare earth elements and others, and are vital in aerospace, telecommunications, computing, and an array of clean technology industries.

Canada ranks among the top five exports of various critical minerals including platinum group metals, nickel, cobalt, and graphite.

Northwestern Ontario currently has eight advanced critical mineral exploration sites, including lithium, graphite, copper and platinum group metals (palladium) providing an opportunity for the province to become a leading jurisdiction in critical mineral production.

Critical minerals like lithium and graphite also require processing of the raw mined material to create a useable product, presenting an opportunity for Northwestern Ontario to become a leader in the chemical processing and conversion of critical minerals to provide products for clean technologies such as batteries for electric vehicles and large scale electrical grid energy storage.

Clean Air Metals

Clean Air Metals released a new palladium/platinum resource for the Thunder Bay North Project (located just north of the city) and a Technical Report completed by Nordmin Engineering. Diamond drilling is underway at Escape Lake and on geophysical targets. On March 18 the company reported a drill intersection of massive sulphides. Metallurgical testing and ramp development planning are in the works.

Impala Canada

Impala Canada will be drilling 50,000 metres during 2021, with a goal of doubling the Lac des Iles Mine life. Diamond drilling is focused on brownfields palladium zones proximal to the mine.

Generation Mining

Generation Mining released a positive Feasibility Study (FS) in Q1 for the Marathon Palladium-Copper Deposit, located just north of Marathon, ON. The mine project has a 14 year mine life and will employ approximately 365 employees. Federal Environmental Assessment is scheduled for much of 2021.

Noront Resources

Noront Resources commenced a new Feasibility Study (FS) for the Eagle’s Nest Copper-Nickel-PGE Deposit. Environmental Assessment is underway. Wyloo Metals (Australia) continues as the largest shareholder of Noront. Noront completed metallurgical testing on a bulk sample from Eagle’s Nest ,via Glencore’s XPS Research Facility. The “Road to Prosperity” (Northern Link) EA and engineering planning/design continues, led by Webequie and Marten Falls First Nations in concert with SNC Lavalin, AECOM and Dillon Consulting.

Avalon Advanced Materials

Avalon Advanced Materials continue with plans to advance the Separation Rapids Lithium Deposit, located north of Kenora. A 5000 tonne bulk sample will be extracted in 2021 for petalite (lithium mineral) processing in a pilot plant. A Feasibility Study will commence for a planned Thunder Bay/FWFN lithium plant location . Rock Tech Lithium has a previously signed joint venture– Letter of Intent in place. In addition, Avalon has other critical element and rare earth element projects in Ontario.

Rock Tech Lithium

Rock Tech Lithium continues with a Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) to advance the Georgia Lake Lithium Deposit, located south of Beardmore, as well as work toward establishing a lithium chemical plant in Thunder Bay. The facility would receive lithium concentrate from Georgia Lake and produce lithium sulphate for the electric vehicle battery industry. Site selection and establishing key management personnel in Thunder Bay is underway. ALS Chemex Laboratories (Perth)has been hired to work through pilot plant work.

Frontier Lithium

Frontier Lithium released a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) illustrating a 27% Internal Rate of Return for a proposed lithium mine ( located north of Red Lake), right through and including a lithium hydroxide chemical/hydromet plant facility, to be built on the Great Lakes. The lithium spodumene (lithium mineral) resource combines the two adjacent orebodies, PAK and Spark The PEA speaks to a an estimated life of mine (LOM) of 26 years. Exploration continues on a 3rd lithium target called “Bold”.

Zen Graphene Solutions

Zen Graphene Solutions is patenting a biocidal graphene application to treat PPE gloves and masks against COVID19, and is working with researchers on bacteria resistance applications . The company has a significant R&D pipeline with an interest in monomers, polymers, metal alloys, corrosion coatings, biosensors, along with the production of graphene oxide and graphene quantum dots. Source graphite/graphene is sources from a bulk sample garnered from coarse diameter drilling on the company’s Constance Lake FN/Hearst area graphite deposit. Environmental baseline work is underway on the deposit. An implementation agreement was recently signed with Constance Lake First Nation.

Government Initiatives

In 2020, multiple government funding initiatives were announced that support the development of critical minerals, including $590 million from the Ontario and federal government to build electric vehicles at Ford’s Oakville plant, representing a commitment to clean technology, and a $31 million investment by the Saskatchewan government to build Canada’s first rare earth processing facility.

ADDRESSING ENERGY DEMAND

East-West Tie Electricity Transmission Project

The East-West Tie transmission project is a new 450 km long, double circuit, 230 kV line being installed between Wawa and Thunder Bay with a connection midway in Marathon. The project, valued at $777 million, began in late 2019 and is expected to be complete by end of 2021. The new transmission line is intended to ensure long-term reliability of electricity in Northwestern Ontario, including the mining sector which is expected to drive electricity demand growth over the next decade.

Wataynikaneyap Electricity Transmission Project

There are currently 32 remote communities, of which 25 are recognized First Nations communities, in the northern area of Northwestern Ontario that are not connected to the provincial transmission grid. The communities are powered by diesel generation that feeds into local distribution grids. The costs to use diesel power can be over three times more than the provincial grid due to the cost of fuel and transportation costs, as often the fuel can only be shipped in via winter ice roads or flown in. The 25 First Nations communities currently has an approximate population of 15,000 people (and growing) and a peak electricity demand of 20 MW.

Waasigan Transmission Line Project

The Waasigan Transmission Line is a proposed new double-circuit 230 kilovolt (kV) transmission line between Lakehead Transformer Station (TS) in the Municipality of Shuniah and Mackenzie TS in the Town of Atikokan, and a new single-circuit 230 kV transmission line between Mackenzie TS and Dryden TS in the City of Dryden.

The project is currently undergoing public and stakeholder consultation for the environmental assessment, which is slated to be complete by 2024 prior to any construction beginning.

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