Demand for critical minerals is expected to increase by 400% to 600% by 2040, according to the report titled Enhancing Domestic Critical Mineral Supply Chains commissioned by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Critical Minerals Council.
Critical minerals — like aluminum, lithium, and nickel — will underpin our push for net zero emissions. They are an essential part of building electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines, and many everyday products.
Canada is positioned as a leader in mining both in terms of innovation and access to resources. As demand is set to dramatically increase, the report prompts that Canada needs to act quickly and decisively to address barriers standing in the way of capitalizing on this opportunity. Our county has the potential to increase mining, production and processing of minerals to meet global demand.
The CCC’s Critical Minerals Council is made up of members representing upstream and downstream corporations, academic institutions, and Indigenous associations.
The report notes the foundation for any growth in critical mineral supply chains in Canada is a commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, which includes meaningful and early engagement with Indigenous governments and organizations from project conception to development and oversight.
The report contains 14 recommendations, which include:
• Incentivize consumers to recycle end-of-life products with critical mineral content
• Increase the scale and awareness of exploration grants
• Accelerate clean energy projects
• Provide targeted infrastructure investment
• Support focused research and development
Read the full list of recommendations in the report: Enhancing Domestic Critical Mineral Supply Chains.
There are valid criticisms of the mining industry, including its impact on climate change. However, demand is increasing. As a nation, we need to work with Indigenous and climate stakeholders to be leaders in environmentally and socially responsible mining practices.
Producing critical mineral domestically allows the industry to provide product for global demand under the environmental, labour, and economic scrutiny we set up, rather than relying on producers like China.
Increasing our recycling capacity and opportunities will play a big role in moving forward, but our move to net-zero emissions and global demand for electronics will require a significant amount of mining.
According to the report, electric vehicles require a far greater quantity and breadth of critical minerals than conventional fossil fuel-burning vehicles. According to the International Energy Authority, it takes about 200 kg of critical minerals to produce a typical electric vehicle. These include lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, rare earth elements, copper, and manganese. China currently dominates the lithium-ion battery market, producing about 75% of global anode and cathode production.
Alternative energy productions also require large amounts of critical minerals. Solar panels require a large array to produce absorbent and conduction layers and module frames. Wind turbines require large amounts of copper, rare earth elements, and aluminum for cables, electrical components, coils and permanent magnets.
Our government recently introduced the Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy, which largely aligns with the report from the CCC. The future of our plans to aggressively reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and meet the targets we have set relies on our government working with industry to responsibly and sustainably increase our mining and improve our critical mineral supply chain to become global leaders in this sector.
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