Canadian Manufacturing

Canada trying to convince the U.S. it is a critical minerals partner: report

Biden is seized with finding ways to ease his country's pandemic-induced supply chain cluster headache.

November 3, 2021  The Canadian Press

Canada needs to sell the United States on the progressive virtues of its mining industry if it wants to be an integral partner and supplier to burgeoning electric-vehicle and critical-minerals markets south of the border, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested on Nov. 2.

Trudeau, wrapping up two days of high-level talks that kicked off a two-week global climate summit in Glasgow, said he had “many, many interactions” with Joe Biden in recent days, most notably at the U.S. president’s own supply chain summit on the margins of G20 meetings in Rome.

Biden is seized with finding ways to ease his country’s pandemic-induced supply chain cluster headache: a capacity crunch at U.S. ports, a global semiconductor shortage and soaring demand for the minerals that power not only cellphones and computers, but the high-tech electric cars and trucks essential to mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Canada, meanwhile, is a key source of 13 of the 35 minerals that the U.S. has identified as critical to its economic and national security — it is America’s largest single supplier of potash, indium, aluminum and tellurium, and the second-largest source of niobium, tungsten and magnesium.

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China is the world’s largest rare-earth producer, with more than 60 per cent of global annual production, well ahead of the U.S., Myanmar, Australia and India. Canada is relatively new to rare-earth extraction, but it’s home to an estimated 15 million untapped tonnes of the valuable elements.

Canada and Australia both tried to impress on Biden during the supply-chain summit on Oct. 29 the roles that each country could play in helping to ensure that critical minerals are readily available to the U.S.

“The challenge is, the extraction and the processing of those in our countries is more costly, because we have higher environmental standards and higher labour standards then the countries that are right now busy cornering the market on those sorts of productions,” Trudeau said.

“So the conversation we had is about, ‘Well, how much is it of value to developed countries to have a secure, friendly source of those critical minerals that are done in better and more responsible ways, even though, obviously, they may be a little more expensive?'”

The report — “The Mosaic Approach: a Multi-dimensional Strategy for Strengthening America’s Critical Minerals Supply Chain” — urges the Biden administration to work more closely with its North American partners and use the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to leverage the mining industries in both countries.