The Ontario government is investing close to $9 million to help junior mining companies finance early exploration projects to find critical minerals used in electric vehicles, smart phones, laptops, medical equipment and renewable energy. The funding is being delivered through the Ontario Junior Exploration Program (OJEP), which helps boost growth and job creation in the province, particularly in northern and Indigenous communities.
“The Ontario Junior Exploration Program is part of our government’s strategic plan to secure the critical minerals needed for the made-in-Ontario supply chain that will change our world and reshape our economy,” said George Pirie, Minister of Mines. “Through our government’s investments in exploration, we are supporting the most critical part of the supply chain and strengthening our mining industry so we can capitalize on this generational opportunity to fuel the future. Our plan, backed by strategic investments like this one, will help drive economic development, secure domestic supply chains and create jobs across the province, especially in northern and Indigenous communities.”
Launched in 2021, OJEP helps junior mining companies cover eligible costs for critical and precious mineral exploration and development. Through its third intake, OJEP has committed $8.9 million in funding to 54 projects – 37 of them exploring for critical minerals – leveraging approximately $21 million in additional investment from industry. Ontario has committed a total of $35 million over four years to the program.
Projects receiving OJEP funding under the third intake include:
$200,000 to EV Nickel to complete a drill program to test for nickel, copper and platinum group metals (PGM) deposits.
$200,000 to E2Gold to complete soil, bedrock and channel sampling, followed by a drill program to test for gold deposits.
$200,000 to Noble Minerals to complete geophysical surveys and a drill program to detect sulphide-bearing rocks that might host critical elements such as zinc, copper, gold, silver, cobalt, selenium and tellurium.
$200,000 to Rockridge Resources Inc. to complete a drill program to test for critical minerals such as lithium, nickel and copper and other precious minerals such as gold.
$77,405 to Mink Ventures Corporation to complete a drilling program and helicopter testing to identify nickel, copper and cobalt deposits.
In 2022, Ontario was first in Canada for mineral exploration expenditures totalling $989 million – accounting for almost a quarter of all mineral exploration expenditures in the country.
As part of the province’s OJEP investment to date, a $12 million funding stream is dedicated exclusively to critical minerals. This stream will support the discovery and development of critical minerals that will help build an integrated supply chain for electric vehicles – connecting producers in the North with Ontario’s world-class manufacturing sector the in the south.
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.
Ontario’s mining sector is a significant economic driver, supporting 78,000 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.
“Funding from the Ontario Junior Exploration Program helps EV Nickel stretch its exploration dollars further. We may have one of the world’s largest nickel sulphide deposits at the Shaw Dome Project just outside Timmins and partnering with the province can help us find and develop the critical minerals deposits needed for the energy transition.”
- Sean Samson
President and CEO, EV Nickel Inc.
“E2Gold is deeply grateful for the support we have received from the Ontario government through the OJEP program. This assistance has been invaluable in addressing the current financial challenges we face as a junior exploration company. The monetary support provided has been a welcome relief for E2Gold, enabling us to undertake the crucial activities necessary to move the Hawkins Project forward. The team at the Ministry of Mines has been extremely helpful and responsive throughout the entire process.”
- Ellie Owens
President, E2Gold Inc.
“The role of Noble Mineral Exploration in the Canadian exploration industry is that of a project generator. In other words, Noble identifies opportunities and executes the early-stage exploration to the point where a larger entity can take the project through the feasibility and development stage. The Ontario Junior Exploration Program has aided Noble in this role by helping to fund early drilling on projects that fit this model.”
- Wayne Holmstead
Exploration Manager, Noble Minerals
“The support granted by the government through funding initiatives, such as OJEP, has allowed Rockridge Resources to move forward with the exploration of precious and critical metals at our 100 per cent owned Raney Gold Project near Timmins. As the government recognizes our project as a pivotal player in the exploration of vital metals within the region, it not only catalyzes additional project-related initiatives, but also elevates public awareness of Rockridge Resources as a key contributor to the advancement of the junior mining sector in Ontario.”
- Jon Wiesblatt
CEO, Rockridge Resources
“We are grateful for the Ontario Junior Exploration Program. Non-dilutive funding is crucial, for junior exploration companies exploring for critical minerals in Ontario, to make the discoveries needed to become tomorrow’s mines so vital to the energy transition. MINK is now able to expand the January 2024 drill program at its Warren Project near Timmins and advance this very prospective nickel-copper-cobalt project.”
- Natasha Dixon
President & CEO, Mink Ventures Corporation