Critical mineral projects are crucial for Canada’s clean energy transition, but investments need to be made in the infrastructure that supports them if they’re going to succeed, according to the head of Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB).

At the World Energy Conference in Calgary, CIB CEO Ehren Cory told BNN Bloomberg that the bank is preparing to lend $100 million towards mineral mining infrastructure.

“We're investing in the roads, clean power, water and wastewater, and the infrastructure that those mines need to be economically viable, especially in northern and remote communities, which is where many of our resources are,” he said.

“So that first investment is coming, (but) that $100 million is really just our initial target. It's a floor, not a ceiling.”

The CIB was established as a federal Crown corporation five years ago, with the purpose of investing in infrastructure that also attracts private capital.

Cory said that the federal government has pinpointed critical minerals as an important part of Canada’s energy transition strategy, but companies face unique challenges when it comes to extracting them, which is where the CIB comes in.

He said the bank is preparing to make an announcement about a new critical mineral project in Canada’s north it intends to help fund through infrastructure lending.

“It's a mine, it produces several critical minerals because often mineral deposits are co-located, it is in the north, and it involves active participation of local communities and of Indigenous groups,” Cory said.

“It's got a great private company who's leading it … we're not the drivers, our private partners are. We get to be their supporters, their cheerleaders and their financiers.”

Cory added that such infrastructure investments can help Canada reach their environmental and economic goals, and become world leaders in the clean energy transition.

“We have the opportunity to be leaders domestically, but also leaders in the world's transition if we invest smartly in infrastructure,” he said.

“I'm very optimistic about our potential to reach not only our goals, but to play a big role in reaching the world's goals if we're smart about it.”