China at present owns the battery provide chain and it’s time for Canada to redraw the map


    Electrical autos are massive enterprise. A decade in the past, there have been 120,000 EVs bought worldwide. At this time, that many are bought in a single week. By 2030, the quantity is predicted to be nearer to 1,000,000 every week.

    Around the globe, automakers are pouring thousands and thousands of {dollars} into electrifying their autos. However with provide snarls pulling the handbrake on gross sales of all types of automobiles—gasoline and electrical alike—one factor is obvious: provide chains matter.

    And since EVs use six occasions the quantity of vital minerals of a gasoline automotive, the provision chains which have served the normal auto sector for many years are being reforged. It’s an enormous alternative for Canada—if we play our playing cards proper.

    At the moment, just some international locations are liable for a lot of the manufacturing of EV battery minerals, and sometimes these international locations are dominated by authoritarian regimes. China and the Congo had been liable for 70 per cent and 60 per cent of the worldwide manufacturing of cobalt and uncommon earth parts, respectively, in 2019, in line with the Worldwide Vitality Company. And the geographical focus is even greater for battery mineral processing, the place China dominates.

    Handily, Canada ranks fifth on this planet for its battery provide chain potential, largely due to its provide of metals and minerals. It’s the solely nation within the Western Hemisphere with identified reserves of all of the minerals essential to manufacture EV batteries, rating sixth globally in lithium reserves, seventh in nickel, and eighth in cobalt.

    The U.S. and the European Union have flagged their dependence on China for battery minerals and supplies as a serious threat to their auto industries. Each areas are working to restructure provide chains—and each have recognized Canada as a safe and steady supply of uncooked supplies.

    What’s extra, Canada’s clear electrical energy grid offers it a aggressive edge with automakers trying to supply low-carbon supplies and scale back the carbon footprint of the autos they produce. BMW has dedicated to slicing emissions throughout its operations, for example, whereas Tesla has indicated a desire for lower-carbon enter supplies like nickel, not too long ago signing a deal with Vale SA to provide nickel from its Canadian operations.

    And with the distinctive rise in demand for batteries outstripping the present provide of sure vital minerals, there’s a mineral useful resource vacuum simply ready to be crammed by Canada. Identified reserves of the metals and minerals that go into EVs and batteries are greater than enough to assist a worldwide transition to zero-emission autos, however new mines should not being constructed quick sufficient. The world needs what Canada has—it simply must step as much as the plate.

    There are some indicators of motion. The federal authorities put vital minerals entrance and centre in its most up-to-date finances, allocating $3.8-billion towards manufacturing, processing, and recycling tasks whereas introducing a brand new tax credit score for the exploration for battery minerals. In the meantime, Ontario has produced a vital mineral technique to “set up and assist a battery chain ecosystem” for its auto business utilizing northern Ontario’s mineral wealth.

    However regardless of some robust investments at both finish of the provision chain, only a few of Canada’s metals and minerals are literally making their manner into batteries. And none of them are doing so inside a Canadian provide chain. Except this modifications, Canada runs the danger of repeating historical past by remaining a “staples” economic system, the place its uncooked supplies are exported and later reimported with the worth added (and the related jobs created) someplace else.

    If Canadian governments wish to seize the battery mineral alternative, they should up their sport. Meaning selecting winners and going all in, whether or not it’s constructing our provide of lithium and graphite or maximizing Canada’s early-stage nickel mines.

    That ought to be coupled with accelerated mining challenge allow timelines that also guarantee Canada meets the best environmental, social, and governance requirements, together with Indigenous session and partnership. New and current mines should even be electrified in order that Canadian mining merchandise are among the many cleanest on this planet. Lastly, we should construct up our home processing and refining capabilities.

    That is Canada’s race to lose, however profitable would require taking the correct steps in the present day. It’s time we picked up the tempo.

    This publish initially appeared in The Hill Instances.


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