Kingston, Greater Sudbury join forces to take on Canada's battery electric vehicle sector

Kingston and Greater Sudbury will work together to create their own space in Canada's growing battery electric vehicle industry, its mayors said Wednesday night.

Greater Sudbury's Paul Lefebvre and Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson announced the creation of the Kingston-Greater Sudbury Critical Minerals Alliance on Wednesday, during the first day of the BEV In-Depth: Mines to Mobility conference being held at Cambrian College in Sudbury.

Paterson said the alliance will be “forging a path towards collective solutions. Partnering with Sudbury allows us to better reach the objectives set out by the federal and provincial Critical Minerals Strategies. It's about advancing together, maximizing our strengths and achieving mutual objectives."

The cities reached a memorandum of understanding the mayors say will serve to identify and outline areas of continued and future co-operation that will foster innovation and promote mutual prosperity.

The Greater Sudbury Development Corporation and Kingston Economic Development will lead that effort, the mayors told the conference.

The alliance intends to spur innovation and co-operation by connecting mines, cleantech and mineral processing technology companies, facilitating strategic partnerships and improving the supply chain in Ontario.

The agreement comes on the same day that Wyloo Canada announced it plans to ship nickel ore from its Ring of Fire mine in northwestern Ontario to a yet-to-be-built facility in Sudbury. That facility, which will cost as much as $900 million, will process the ore so it can be used in electric batteries for vehicles.

As for the deal with Kingston, Lefebvre said it developed because the two cities saw the need to work together to carve out a role in the BEV sector and create jobs for their communities.

“We met a few years ago and really hit it off," Lefebvre said, referring to Paterson. "Kingston and Sudbury are not in the GTA. We needed some opportunities. We kind of felt we needed some champions.

"There are a lot of similarities between us. Sudbury and Kingston have unique strengths in mining, resource extraction, mineral supply, processing technologies and recycling. This strategic partnership will help us both advance and capitalize on new opportunities that present themselves during the BEV transition.”

The memorandum of understanding recognizes the need to hit Canadian Net Zero 2050 pollution-reduction targets and the need for mining and processing capabilities to support the critical mineral economy and the transition to electric vehicles. With that in mind, the development corporations in Greater Sudbury and Kingston are committed to working closely to strengthen connections across the regions, including sharing best practices.

The topic of cross-sectoral collaboration will surely be explored further at the full-day portion of the BEV conference on May 30, as speakers representing the automotive, battery, green energy, mining, mineral processing and allied supply and services companies meet and share ideas.

“The city of Greater Sudbury is a world-class mining centre and hosts nine mines within its boundaries,” Lefebvre told the BEV audience Wednesday night. “No other place in the world can say that."

Add smelting and refining, plus a dynamic innovation community, post-secondary research, vendors in the supply and services sector, and Sudbury’s nickel and other minerals become even more of an essential player in the BEV revolution and the future wealth of Ontario.

Paterson, an economist by training, said that "economic development got me into the political world. Kingston was traditionally a public sector town, and it is exciting to see in the last decade how there are now lots of exciting things happening. I am a champion, principal cheerleader and problem solver."

Extending his hand to join forces with Greater Sudbury also demonstrates a forward-thinking approach, he said.

“Business, technology, talent … putting all those pieces together … at the end of the day, the quality of life in your community depends on the business sector," he said.

Queen’s University is a critical source of mining leaders. Its Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining is one of the oldest and largest mining schools in the world and offers the broadest opportunity to learn about responsible extraction and other aspects of the subject.

A quarter of mining engineers in Canada are Queen’s graduates. Kingston also is home to research and innovation in the mining cycle, mineral processing and the future of mining.

Hugh Kruzel is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter in Sudbury. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Hugh Kruzel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star