Big industrial infrastructure among mountains in Alberta, Canada
Among the 129 mining projects listed in Canada’s Major Projects Inventory Report, 63 involve processing or extracting critical minerals. Together, these projects represent $60.9 billion in potential investment.

The $1.5-billion fund’s initial round of proposals will be open until Feb. 29 and targets pre-construction, development and infrastructure projects

The federal government has opened its first call for proposals for the $1.5-billion Critical Minerals Infrastructure Fund (CMIF).

Monies from the fund are available over seven years to support projects expanding the sustainable development of Canada’s critical minerals. These include clean energy and electrification initiatives to increase mineral production and investments in clean transportation or related infrastructure.

“Through the $1.5-billion Critical Minerals Infrastructure Fund, Canada will make strategic investments in projects to help enable and grow the sustainable development of these minerals,” says Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, in a press statement.

Applications for CMIF will be open until February 29, 2024. The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) will review all applications to assess private investment potential and possible CIB participation.

Two funding streams

Up to $300 million is available for this first round of proposals. Non-governmental applicants can receive up to $50 million per project, while provincial and territorial governments can receive up to $100 million per public project.

The CMIF will cover up to half of the total eligible costs for most projects. If a project is led by Arctic, Northern or Indigenous groups, funding covers up to 75 per cent of the costs.

Public-private partnerships can receive support of up to 33 per cent of project costs.

Funding in this round is available under two project streams: the Pre-construction and Project Development Stream and the Infrastructure Deployment Stream.

The first stream is aimed at pre-construction and project development activities that help move projects towards being built. “Funding for this stream will be targeted to advance infrastructure-specific consultation and engagement with local stakeholders and Indigenous communities and organizations, energy modeling and feasibility studies, engineering, planning and design work, and climate change/environmental reviews or assessments,” reads the call for proposals applicant guide for the CMIF.

The second stream focuses on infrastructure deployment and will provide funding to “support activities such as site preparation, construction, deployment of technologies, and improvement of energy and transportation-related infrastructure that enables or expands critical mineral development projects.”

The government emphasizes in the press release that by investing in these types of projects, “Canada is helping to realize immense economic opportunities all along the value chain.”

Major critical mineral projects

The CMIF is a key program under the Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy. The federal government launched the $3.8-billion strategy last year to develop critical minerals primarily involved in making electric vehicle batteries.

Earlier this month, Natural Resources Canada unveiled its annual Major Projects Inventory. The document offers an overview of significant natural resource projects either currently under construction or planned for the next decade.

Among the 129 mining projects listed in Canada’s Major Projects Inventory Report, 63 involve processing or extracting critical minerals. Together, these projects represent $60.9 billion in potential investment.

“Critical minerals are a generational economic opportunity for Canada…demand for critical minerals is projected to rise exponentially as the global economy continues to shift toward low-carbon solutions,” says Wilkinson.

Manitoba releases Critical Minerals Strategy, eyes key supply chain role