Electric cars

Exclusive: Canada to invest C$2 billion in mineral strategy for electric vehicle battery supply chain

Exclusive: Canada to invest C$2 billion in mineral strategy for electric vehicle battery supply chain

OTTAWA, April 4 (Reuters) – Canada’s federal budget will include an investment of at least C$2 billion ($1.6 billion) for a strategy to accelerate the production and processing of critical minerals needed to electric vehicle (EV) battery supply chain, two senior government sources said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, which is due to release its budget on Thursday, will make the investment to speed up the mining and processing of critical minerals including nickel, lithium, cobalt and magnesium, the sources close to the government said. file but is not authorized to speak on the report.

The investment could be spread over more than a year, but the sources declined to comment on the time frame.

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Last month, Canada announced financial support for the construction of two facilities that will manufacture battery materials for electric vehicles and a battery gigafactory, but no agreement has yet been announced for mining or refining. minerals. Read more

“There are particular projects that we are looking at and working on right now,” Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said in a recent phone interview with Reuters.

All potential projects, “whether mining or processing, need to be accelerated significantly, and that is what the critical mineral strategy will focus on,” he added.

Canada’s Department of Finance declined to confirm whether the investment would be in the budget to be presented by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland in the House of Commons.

“Canada has an abundance of valuable deposits of critical minerals, and with the right investments, this sector can create thousands of new good jobs, grow our economy and make Canada a vital part of the growing global minerals industry. essential minerals,” said Adrienne Vaupshas, ​​Freeland’s press officer.

There are “many active conversations” between the Canadian government and companies “about the need to accelerate and scale up production of raw materials used in electric vehicle batteries,” one of the sources said.

Canada, home to a major mining sector, has a multi-billion dollar fund set up to invest in green technologies and is trying to appeal to companies involved at all levels of the electric vehicle supply chain to to protect the future of its manufacturing heartland in Ontario as the world seeks to reduce carbon emissions.

Ontario is geographically close to American automakers in Michigan and Ohio, and General Motors Co. (GM.N)Ford Motor Co. (FN) and Stellantis SA (STLA.MI) have all announced their intention to manufacture electric vehicles in factories in the Canadian province.

MINERALS FROM MINE WASTE

As it can take many years – even a decade or more – to open new mines, Wilkinson said some of the projects being considered involve “tailings from existing mines that you could extract critical minerals from.”

“We look at brines and oil sands, tailings ponds and all of those things,” he said.

Brendan Marshall, vice president of economic and northern affairs for the Mining Association of Canada, said this type of project would require research.

“There needs to be research and development” to develop technologies that can identify and separate critical minerals “from the general waste stream,” Marshall said.

Canada’s core mineral strategy will focus, among other things, on boosting research, innovation and exploration, one of the sources said.

GM said Monday it was investing C$2 billion in two plants, including one that will produce an electric vehicle for commercial use in Canada. Last month, GM said it had teamed up with South Korea’s POSCO Chemical. (005490.KS) build a manufacturing plant for battery materials in Quebec. Read more

Scott Bell, president and CEO of GM Canada, said last month that Canada’s abundance of nickel and other raw materials would be used to make cathode active material in the Canadian province, without giving further details.

“These companies are going to need these critical minerals that our country has, so we need to start aggressively scaling up the necessary mining and processing,” Canada’s Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in Vancouver. last week.

Demand for battery minerals, including lithium and cobalt, could increase nearly 500% by 2050, the World Bank estimates. Currently, Asia, and particularly China, dominates the global production and processing of critical minerals, rare earths and rare metals used to manufacture electric vehicles.

Constantine Karayannopoulos, President and CEO of Neo Performance Materials Inc.(NEO.TO)a Toronto-based rare earths and rare metals processing firm, said Canada and North America have a lot of catching up to do.

“We are collectively behind the eight ball in the West, behind China,” Karayannopoulos said in a phone interview. “China dominates this space… We need a lot of money (to build the supply chain) because we are catching up.”

($1 = 1.2517 Canadian dollars)

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Reporting by Steve Scherer Editing by Paul Simao

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