The Canadian Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources has launched the first call for proposals (CFP) of the new Critical Minerals Infrastructure Fund (CMIF), to support critical minerals projects.

The C$1.5bn ($1.1bn) fund will be available for a period of seven years.

It will help address key infrastructure hurdles for sustainable production and marketing of critical minerals including lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite and zinc, among others.

Critical minerals have taken centre stage in the development of clean technology, especially across batteries, wind turbines and solar panels.

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These technologies are critical in the fight against climate change and in achieving net-zero emissions.

The funding from the Canadian ministry will support clean energy and electrification initiatives as well as transportation and infrastructure projects needed for the sustainable development of critical minerals.

Being the first of many under CMIF, the CFP includes up to C$300m in contribution funding available under two schemes.

The schemes include the pre-construction and project development stream, as well as the infrastructure deployment stream.

Non-governmental applicants can seek up to C$50m per project while provincial and territorial governments can seek up to C$100m per project.

Canada Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said: “Critical minerals are a generational economic opportunity for Canada. As major enablers of clean technologies and clean energy sources, demand for critical minerals is projected to rise exponentially as the global economy continues to shift toward low-carbon solutions.

“Through the C$1.5bn Critical Minerals Infrastructure Fund, Canada will make strategic investments in projects to help enable and grow the sustainable development of these minerals, reinforcing Canada’s position as a global supplier of choice for clean technology, clean energy and the resources the world needs to build a prosperous net-zero economy.”

In December 2022, Canada launched its Critical Minerals Strategy with the aim of becoming a global supplier of critical minerals.

This strategy was supported by C$3.8bn in federal funding.

The aim was to boost the production and processing of 31 critical minerals. As part of the strategy, the government announced plans to review permitting processes to bring down the time it takes to commission mining projects.