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Canada can be global critical minerals 'supplier of choice,' say feds

Natural Resources Minister releases list of essential and strategic minerals that will drive the digital and clean-tech economy
Cesium Avalon Advanced Materials
Cesium from Avalon Advanced Materials' Lilypad Project near Pickle Lake (Company photo)

On the last day of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada's virtual mining show, federal Natural Resources Seamus O'Regan announced the release of a nationally significant list of 31 critical minerals.

These minerals are deemed essential in the manufacturing of batteries, magnets, solar panels, wind turbines and various other renewable energy and clean-tech applications.

Many of these minerals are also used in defence, aerospace and security technologies, consumer electronics, agriculture, healthcare, telecommunications, medical applications and critical infrastructure.

With global demand for these resources steadily rising, the government said these minerals are essential to Canadian industry and security, and offer a "secure and resilient" source of supply to our allies.

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Canada is the only Western nation with an abundance of cobalt, graphite, lithium and nickel, essential to creating the batteries and electric vehicles.

This country is the world's second largest producer of niobium, an important metal for the aerospace industry; and the fourth largest producer of indium, a key input in semi-conductors; as well as many of the materials needed for advanced vehicle manufacturing.

Various federal departments, exploration, mining and manufacturing industries, the provinces and territories had a hand in compiling the list.

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"They're all essential to lowering emissions, increasing our competitiveness, and strengthening our energy security," said O'Regan in a statement. "Canada's list signals to investors where Canada will focus and where Canada will lead. Critical minerals will get us to net-zero."

"Our expertise in mineral exploration, our vast resources, potential for further discoveries, and leadership in sustainable practices means Canada is in an excellent position to become the global 'supplier of choice' for the critical minerals that will drive the transition toward a low-carbon future," said Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada president Felix Lee. 

National Indigenous Economic Development Vice-Chair Dawn Madahbee Leach said these minerals must be extracted in sustainable manner that respects the environment.

"The announcement that Canada has identified key critical minerals that are needed to help sustain life is great news. Now if we can extract only what is needed in a environmentally-conscious and sustainable way that is inclusive of the people most impacted, then we will be on the right track when it comes to balanced resource development."