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Spotlight: Game changer for the Thunder Bay mining market

Clean Air Metals Inc. was formed around the consolidation of two very promising platinum-palladium-copper-nickel assets, just outside Thunder Bay, over two and a half years ago. 

Canadian-based platinum and palladium company, Clean Air Metals Inc. (AIR: TSXV) has invested over $30 million in the last two-and-a-half years of operation in Thunder Bay to commit to the development of an environmentally sustainable mining operation in Northwestern Ontario, 40 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay up the Spruce River Road.

Northwestern Ontario is Canada’s powerhouse of mining with approximately 780,000 ounces of gold and 208,000 ounces of palladium produced in 2020, according to Thunder Bay CEDC. 

Home to Canada’s only pure palladium mine, Lac des Iles mine north of Thunder Bay, it comes as no surprise that more companies are inclined to invest in exploring and expanding the mining industry. 

Clean Air Metals Inc. was formed around the consolidation of two very promising platinum-palladium-copper-nickel assets, just outside Thunder Bay, over two and a half years ago. 

Over the last two and a half years, over $30 million was spent proving the economic viability the two deposits which are now combined into a single mine design. 

“These two deposits will provide feed to a single mill. Next steps from here include completing a pre-feasibility study which would bring us into proven and probable reserves by September, 2023,” said Abraham Drost, the CEO of Clean Air Metals.

Based on all the environmental baseline work that the company has been working on all these years in addition to over a decade of work put in by the predecessors for the project, an extensive environmental baseline database has been created, according to Drost. 

The project called, “Thunder Bay North Critical Minerals project” partners with the three First Nation communities — the Fort William First Nation, the Red Rock Indian Band and the Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek, the former Rocky Bay First Nation. 

In addition to partnerships with the First Nations communities, the company also seeks to partner with two Métis groups — Red Sky Métis Independent Nation and the Métis Nation of Ontario.

Just before Christmas, 2022, the project received $15 million in financing from Triple Flag Precious Metals Corp (TFPM: TSX), which was a non-equity royalty financing into the asset, fulfilling the funding needs for all project activities in 2023. 

Critical Minerals mine developments such as Thunder Bay North are a crucial form of regional economic development as well as Canada-wide, fitting in well with the new Ontario and Federal Critical Minerals policies. (Critical minerals in Canada - Canada.ca ) 

There’s a huge demand for commodities like platinum, palladium, copper, and nickel needed in Ontario and North America for battery electric vehicles, and green-hydrogen hybrid vehicles, whose production are a principal focus for Clean Air Metals and the Thunder Bay Critical Minerals project.

“We are on the cusp of a significant politically driven action around climate change,” Drost said, “and everybody recognizes it now. In fact, I heard [U.S. President Joe] Biden speaking on the need to cooperate around developing the North American critical minerals supply chain. The Thunder Bay Critical Minerals project very much fits into that whole perspective.”

The project is also projected to add more employment opportunities for residents of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario. According to a recently published independent study by Nordmin Engineering, Thunder Bay, the project would require 600 full-time construction jobs for the two years commencing around 2025 and 200 full-time mining jobs at the Thunder Bay North project for a minimum of 10 years after that, Drost observes. 

The company is committed to developing the project while maintaining a lower carbon footprint; they are in the process of designing an all-electric mine site using Hydro One grid power, which combines hydro, wind, and solar energy. In addition to that, they are looking at green hydrogen technology while also partnering with the local Indigenous communities as they contribute to the transformation to green energy generation.

Thunder Bay North Critical Minerals Project milestones for 2023 include the new mineral resource update in March, and a technical report for the pre-feasibility study (PFS) which will put the project Proven and Probable (or 2P) mineable reserves.

The company has set its sights on a great year ahead that could ultimately prove a game changer for Thunder Bay and surrounding areas.

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