Canada unveils critical mineral strategy
Ottawa positions Canada to seize clean energy opportunity Metal Tech News - December 9, 2022
Last updated 1/3/2023 at 3:37pm
To seize upon a once-in-a-century opportunity to leverage Canada's already world-class mining sector to supply the minerals and metals needed to build the clean energy future, Ottawa has unveiled a strategy backed by a $3.8 billion (US$2.8 billion) investment to bolster the resiliency of critical mineral supply chains in the northern nation.
Ottawa began positioning Canada as a major player at the front end of the emerging green energy supply chains with a 2021 list of 31 critical minerals that include cobalt, copper, graphite, lithium, nickel, rare earth elements, and other mined commodities fundamental to building the envisioned clean energy and high-tech future.
To leverage Canada's incredible abundance of the minerals and metals critical to electric vehicles, low-carbon energy, and future-leaning digital technologies, Ottawa has now unveiled a critical minerals strategy that has five primary goals for the betterment of the nation:
• Support economic growth, competitiveness, and job creation.
• Promote climate action and environmental protection.
• Advance reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
• Foster diverse and inclusive workforces and communities.
• Enhance global security and partnership with allies.
"Canada's Critical Minerals Strategy will enable this country to seize the generational economic opportunity presented by critical minerals, creating sustainable, well-paying jobs while growing our economy," said Canada Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson. "It will position Canada as the global supplier of choice for the critical minerals and clean technologies needed for the green, digital global economy - and it will help advance economic reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples."
In addition to investing heavily into building out an already robust mining sector in Canada, the strategy includes measures to streamline the permitting process for critical mines at the provincial, territorial, national, and international levels in a way that continues to ensure meaningful Indigenous partnerships and aligns with Canada's ambitious climate and environmental goals.
The Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada hailed the strategy as a major win for the nation and its mining sector.
"The Critical Minerals Strategy announced today provides guideposts for taking steps to support our industry right here in Canada, so that we can supply ourselves, and the world, with the critical minerals and metals needed to achieve a low-emissions future," said PDAC President Alex Christopher.
What makes the clean energy transition a "generational opportunity" for Canada and other countries enriched with critical minerals?
Basically, electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines, and other clean energy and digital technologies require minerals and metals that were previously not used by society in the quantities that will be needed for an envisioned future where everyone drives a zero-emissions vehicle charged with renewable energy.
The World Bank estimates that more than 3 billion tons of minerals and metals will be required to build the EVs and renewable energy infrastructure needed to achieve the climate goals outlined in the Paris Agreement –more ambitious targets set by global leaders during the 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) will require even more mining, sooner.
Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a global leader in lithium battery supply chain analysis, estimates that more than 300 new mines will need to come online by 2035 to meet the demand for the cobalt, graphite, lithium, manganese, and nickel needed for the lithium-ion batteries going into electric vehicles.
This does not account for the enormous increase in demand for copper, rare earths, silver, tellurium, zinc, and other minerals required for low-carbon energy, digital technologies, and EVs.
A detailed report on the minerals needed for EVs can be read at Minerals critical to the EV Revolution in the Critical Minerals Alliances magazine published by Data Mine North in September.
"As we transition to cleaner, mineral intensive forms of energy, democratic countries are going to need access to stable and secure sources of critical minerals," Wilkinson said earlier this year. "Clearly, rapid development of these sources is urgently required."
From the establishment of the country's first rare earths mine in Northwest Territories to manufacturing EVs in Ontario and Quebec, clean energy supply chains are already forming in Canada's territories and provinces.
Major investment in Canada
The $3.8 billion of critical minerals funding included in Canada's 2022 federal budget aims to bolster supply chain resiliency, especially when it comes to the supply lines leading to lithium batteries and EVs.
This budget includes:
• $1.5 billion for investments in new critical minerals projects – prioritizing processing, manufacturing, and recycling for key mineral and metal products along the battery and rare earths supply chains.
• $1.5 billion for infrastructure investments to unlock new mineral projects in critical regions, such as Northern Ontario's Ring of Fire.
• $144 million for research and development to support the responsible extraction and processing of critical minerals.
• $80 million for public geoscience and exploration programs to help find the next generation of critical minerals deposits.
• A Critical Mineral Exploration Tax Credit that doubles the flow-through federal tax credit (from 15 to 30%) for 15 minerals critical to clean energy and zero-emissions vehicles.
• Renews the Centre of Excellence on Critical Minerals for three more years with an allocation of $10 million.
• Adds $40 million to support northern regulatory processes in reviewing and permitting critical minerals projects.
• $70 million for global partnerships to promote Canadian mining leadership.
"With our government's Critical Minerals Strategy, we are taking this generational opportunity to put our vision into action – from mines to manufacturing to recycling. It will help us build a strong and resilient ecosystem while also supporting innovation and well-paying jobs," said Canada's Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne. "Through this ambitious strategy, Canada is seizing the moment to be a leader in the low-carbon economy and the world's green supplier of choice for critical minerals."
A detailed report on Canada's critical mineral projects, supply chains, and strategy can be read at Canada to feed a minerals hungry world in the Critical Minerals Alliances magazine published by Data Mine North in September.