Canada Has the Minerals & Know-How to Lead on EV Tech

Canada's Electric Vehicle Opportunity

Sometimes, working together with our neighbour to the South makes nothing but perfect sense.

Consider clean vehicle production and the crucial role Canadian minerals and metals can play in making electric vehicle batteries, electronics, and other clean tech components for a global market.

Both Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Joe Biden talked recently about the importance of supporting a North American strategy for electric vehicles.

And it’s no wonder. Placing clean transportation in perspective, we know there are nearly 300 million registered vehicles in the US alone – with roughly 645,000 of them in the US federal government fleet where President Biden has direct leverage. Included in the federal fleet are about 200,000 passenger vehicles, almost 80,000 heavy-duty trucks, and nearly 50,000 vans.

Looking at only the US federal fleet together, each year those vehicles travel about 4.5 billion miles collectively and use almost 400 million gallons of gasoline. During the process, they emit more than 7 billion pounds of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Out of all of those US vehicles, EVs account for a couple of percentage points in annual sales at best. That’s no criticism; it’s an opportunity, and it’s a huge one. The other opportunity is to make sure the mining, oil and natural gas that goes into the manufacturing of those vehicles are sourced from environmentally responsible producers, like Canada.

Canada & U.S.: EV Partners

What Minerals and Metals Are Used to Manufacture Electric Vehicles

While the Prime Minister has spoken publicly about the need to collaborate with the Americans on clean vehicle technologies, President Biden recently signed an executive order directing his officials to put a plan in place to convert all federal, state, local and tribal fleets to zero-emission vehicles.

From my perspective, the PM was right to stake out the collaboration strategy in his recent call with the President. We’re the only Western nation with abundant cobalt, graphite, lithium and nickel. We’re a key to battery success in the manufacture of electric vehicles.

In fact, both countries stand to benefit from a collaborative approach to clean transportation that meets each administration’s campaign promises. There’s little doubt a successful partnership will result in good, well-paying jobs and economic growth.

Canada’s resource-dependent rural communities – most importantly including our Indigenous communities – could be important beneficiaries of a program that advances Canada as a global critical minerals ‘supplier of choice,’ especially since mining is one of the largest employment opportunities for rural Indigenous community members.

There’s also the simple fact that a fledgling clean transportation industry could very much use a shot in the arm. And other global markets could stand to benefit from a reliable flow of critical Canadian minerals.

So when Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan made public Canada’s critical minerals list during the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada meeting earlier in March, he sent a clear, unambiguous message to investors that Canada is committed to building the necessary supply of critical minerals to help fuel North America’s low-carbon future.

Canada Should Be a Supplier of Choice

The 31 minerals on the aforementioned list are prerequisites to developing clean technologies, from solar panels to EV batteries. O’Regan added, “they’re all essential to lowering emissions, increasing our competitiveness, and strengthening our energy security. Critical minerals will get us to net-zero.”

In my opinion, the announcement reaffirms Canada’s position; we’re a strong supplier of resources to help power a growing market for electric vehicles.

Other commentators have made the point, but it’s worth making once again: we have the people, the know-how, and the sustainability track-record to do the job, and each of these attributes is the envy of the globe. Further, we’ll gain further intellectual property to make our future even stronger.

Let me lay my cards fully on the table. I’m a strong proponent of the simple fact that mining and minerals, agriculture, forestry, oil and gas, electricity generation and other resources are, almost in every case, best obtained from Canadian suppliers.

We have the experience, the skilled workforce, the sustainability knowledge, the safety culture and the policy and enforcement frameworks to make us the best natural resource providers in the world.

So, if America moves forward on the long-term goal of converting as many as 300 million gas-powered vehicles to clean technology, those batteries will require a tremendous amount of cobalt, graphite, lithium and nickel. With our enviable sustainability reputation, isn’t it crystal clear that Canada should be the supplier of choice?

You bet it is.

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Canada’s mining industry has a world-class record on Environmental, Social, and Governance performance as exemplified by the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiatives our companies participate in here at home and around the globe.

As the world increasingly needs more minerals and metals that will play a critical role in the transition to a lower-carbon future, it only makes sense that Canada is a global supplier of choice for all of the above.

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