It was a multi-million dollar day in Sudbury as the federal government provided a huge funding boost for electric vehicle innovation.

FedNor announced it's spending more than $2 million to position the city as an electric vehicle battery hub. The money will be split between two projects, one each at NORCAT and Cambrian College.

NORCAT will get $1,321,875 to acquire and incorporate mining equipment powered by batteries and electric motors. Cambrian will get $682,320 to establish a BEV lab within its Centre for Smart Mining.

"I can't think of better timing with the work that's happening here at Cambrian and at NORCAT in terms of really getting the industry ready to be fully mobilized in the least carbon-emitting way," said FedNor Minister Patty Hajdu.

The federal government wants to see minerals in the north play a major role as Canada looks to reach its goal of cars and passenger trucks being 100 per cent zero-emission by 2035.

It comes off the heels of another announcement in 2020, where Ottawa and the provincial government announced $10 million to create a cobalt refinery in the north, which would create sulfate used in long-range EVs.

"We're making sure that we are poised to become really a driver of that huge demand globally for better ways, cleaner ways, to power ourselves," Hajdu said.

"Northern Ontario has the technology and the expertise to participate fully and really to lead."

"I think it's great news for Sudbury and northern Ontario really," said Devin Arthur, president of the EV Society of Sudbury who was in the audience.

"You know all the hard work that's been done around electric vehicles in the north is really kind of showing the fruits of what everyone has done."

"The investments by FedNor and the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation are all really significant to maintaining our position as leaders in and around the world," said Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger.

Hajdu toured the Cambrian College facilities, taking a look at where the BEV lab will go once constructed.

She steered clear of any discussion about future investments, including the construction of a battery plant in the region.

"I can't project the future but I can tell you that FedNor will be there as there are exciting opportunities from an economic development perspective to support emerging businesses, to support innovation and ideas," Hajdu said.

"I think it's a great time with mining transitioning to BEVs and I think the importance of critical minerals and the role they plan within the adoption of BEVs, that we're very excited about this contribution of FedNor which will supercharge our battery electric vehicle lab's capacity," said Mike Commito, Cambrian's director of research and development.

"It's really a chance for us to validate that northern Ontario is the global destination for the future of mining so we're very excited for that opportunity," said NORCAT's Don Duval.

Registrations with zero-emission vehicles hit an important milestone last year, making up more than five per cent of all new vehicles registered.