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Future of battery electric vehicles the focus at Sudbury conference

The second annual battery electric vehicle (BEV) conference is under way at Cambrian College in Sudbury.

Day 1 of the two-day Mines to Mobility Conference began Wednesday, drawing out leaders in mining, automotive and supply.

Battery electric vehicle conference in Sudbury at Cambrian College. May 31/23 (Amanda Hicks/CTV Northern Ontario)

Sudbury Mayor Paul Lefebvre said the conference is huge for the city.

"It not only showcases what we do in Sudbury, but all the resources we have here. But having the world come here and have that discussion about battery electric vehicles and the future of it," Lefebvre said.

Devin Arthur, president of the EV Society of Greater Sudbury, said some of the challenges in the EV industry is a lack of supply.

"The batteries for electric vehicles require critical minerals, nickel, copper, lithium," he said. "The projections are showing right now we need much more and we need a lot, exponentially amount more, so we need to find a way to fix that production."

Arthur said EV ownership has increased in Sudbury by 50 per cent.

"Every year, it's rising exponentially and there's so many models right now that are coming out all the time," he said. 

"There's going to be a point where you won't be able to buy a gas vehicle anymore."

The conference is also showcasing various EVs, including some available to take for a test drive.

A focus of the conference is networking, getting professionals from different industries together for a mutual goal of advancing BEV production.

Glen Watson, of mining giant Vale, said collaboration is essential.

"One of the challenges is related to this big push towards increasing our output of minerals is carbon reduction," Watson said.

"And we understand this is not something we can achieve on our own and what we're trying to promote is that we need to work together."

Vale's Chief Operating Officer of the north Atlantic division, Alfredo Santana, highlighted the mining giant's partnership with Mining Innovation, Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation (MIRARCO), a not-for-profit research arm of Laurentian University.

"It's about the potential for extracting critical minerals from waste materials, so that’s a really exciting project," Watson said.

Trevor Walker, Frontier Lithium president and CEO, introduced his company's proposal of a lithium hydroxide processing plant in Nairn, west of Sudbury.

Walker said the permit request has been sent in to the province, but it could take a year for the project to begin, if approved.

"Northern Ontario has yet to produce lithium salts or lithium chemicals, so a big part of the demonstration is to train the workforce for northern Ontario," he said.

George Pirie, Ontario's minister of mining, was a keynote speaker at the conference Wednesday, talking about BEV production in the north.

"The future depending on mining is an extremely exciting to me," he said.

"We're doing the right things and our government is doing the right thing to make sure we find the minerals of the future to power the EV revolution right now."

The conference will wrap up Thursday. Top Stories

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