In Canada, critical minerals are necessary for promoting a cleaner and more digitized economic landscape. These earth elements play an important role in the construction of high-tech devices like solar panels and smartphones, yet the supply of many of these minerals is not large enough to support growing demand.
Note: The call for proposals for this official project is now closed.
To respond to this economic need, the Government of Canada established the Critical Minerals Research, Development and Demonstration Program to fund projects focused on technologies that will advance the production of these rare earth elements. Learn more about this program and how your innovative organization can receive funding.
What Are Critical Minerals?
As supply and societal needs change, so too does what is classified as a critical mineral. At one time, table salt fell into this category. Today, most critical minerals are metals used for manufacturing in high-tech industries. These elements are fundamental to Canada, as they may help the nation adopt a more digitized economy less reliant on carbon.
Critical minerals are versatile materials that contribute to production in various sectors, from agriculture and renewable energy to healthcare and security. The Government of Canada names 31 minerals essential for sustainable economic growth, many of which the nation produced in the past. Some of these minerals include:
What Is the Critical Minerals Funding Program?
The Critical Minerals Research, Development, and Demonstration Program seeks to further the commercialization of technologies that will boost the processing of raw materials for use in critical mineral value chains. These value chains include efficiency, economic advancements in unit operations, and health and safety with production demonstrations (flowsheets).
A second aspect of the program is technologies that support zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) value chain development. These tools provide the raw material inputs needed for batteries and permanent magnets.
Funding from this program goes towards projects seeking to improve the production and commercialization of innovative technologies and processing designs while fostering more socially and environmentally responsible performance of these techniques. The following are some results the program hopes to see from the projects it funds:
- Manufacturing of critical minerals using a new process from a non-traditional source, like recycled or mine waste
- Environmental performance enhancement in a critical mineral processing unit operation or flowsheet, such as decreased energy or carbon intensity
- Improved capital or operating costs of critical mineral production using novel or augmented processes or flowsheets to reduce the use of conventional methods
How Does the Critical Minerals Program Fund Projects?
The program will extend up to $5 million in non-reimbursable funding to initiatives meeting certain eligibility requirements and will continue to contribute to these activities until March 2024.
Organizations that applied for funding needed to show that groundwork has an acceptable scale, duration, and feed rate to address important design issues, such as:
- Energy intensity
- Build-up of impurities
- Reagent addition
- Water recycling
Applications also needed to provide key flowsheet design information that clearly stated the expected capital and operational costs, safety concerns, reproducibility, and material handling issues of the project. While pilot studies are sufficient for full flowsheets and selected circuits, program heads believe most funding applications will concentrate on circuits.
Who Was Eligible for Funding?
For this funding program, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) was focused on well-advanced technologies that primarily need support to progress to the production or commercialization phase.
Organizations had to meet the following criteria to be considered for funding:
- The technology will generate critical minerals
- The technology is at the 6-7-8 readiness level
- The technology strives to support the creation of ZEV value chains in Canada through raw material inputs for use in batteries and permanent magnets
Mineral production funding in Canada is open to any legal organization incorporated or registered in Canada, which includes for-profit businesses, non-profit groups, post-secondary institutions, research associations, and Indigenous organizations. Qualifying costs include any activities done to achieve a demonstration or pilot plant and range from salaries to data collection.
How Were Projects Selected?
The application process occurred in two phases. During the first stage, applicants wrote a concise letter of interest (LOI) and submitted it to NRCan for review. NRCan picked the projects they deemed to have the most potential and then asked organizations to draft a full project proposal (FPP). Once NRCan received an FPP, it made a final selection and provided recipients with contributions agreements.
Get Supplemental Funding for Mineral Production with Easly
The Critical Minerals Research, Development, and Demonstration Program was ideal for organizations creating technologies to augment the use of rare earth elements. If your business conducts innovative efforts to advance the production and commercialization of these minerals, you may still be eligible for supplemental funding from alternative grants.
We serve businesses that attain government funding, such as Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credits. By aligning with government mandates, we help pioneering companies gain access to this financial support sooner with on-demand and non-dilutive funding through our Capital-as-a-Service platform.
Contact us today to learn more about Easly Advances and mineral production funding in Canada.