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Canada must have 'control' of its critical minerals supply: Trudeau

PM: Creating secure battery minerals supply chains ensure Canada's reliability as an international partner
(Doug Ford Twitter photo)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made no apologies for cracking down on Chinese investment in Canadian mining projects that produce the coveted critical minerals needed to power the clean energy economy.

In a Dec. 5 news conference showcasing Canada’s first full-scale electric vehicle plant at General Motor’s CAMI Assembly complex in Ingersoll, Trudeau emphasized the importance for Canada to have “control” of its own sources of critical minerals, like nickel and lithium, and the downstream processing facilities that produce the battery-ready material used in electric vehicle production.

Trudeau was responding to a reporter’s question about Ottawa’s tighter foreign investment review policies and clampdown in stopping certain countries, deemed hostile to Canada’s natural interests, from taking ownership stakes and securing offtake agreements in Canadian critical minerals projects.

A junior mining company, hunting for cesium in northeastern Ontario, was compelled to find a new financing partner after Hong Kong-based Sinomine Rare Metals Resources was forced by Ottawa to divest itself of its investment in Power Metals’ Case Lake Project, east of Cochrane.

Trudeau said Canada is “extraordinarily fortunate” have an abundance of the critical minerals and production plants that the world needs for the transition to a clean energy economy and the plethora of new technologies being advanced. Establishing secure domestic supply chains of this material works in our interest, he said.

“We wanna make sure that companies that do business with Canada, that allies who are relying on Canada, will be able to rely on us to deliver on our commitments. And that’s why making sure we’re in control of our critical minerals, we’re in control of the manufacturing processes, is extremely important and that’s why we are ensuring the integrity and reliability of Canada as a partner.”

The event, which was attended by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, provincial Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Minister Vic Fedeli, GM senior executives and Unifor, marked the start of the first BrightDrop Zevo 600 vans to roll off the CAMI EV line and was declared a "new chapter in EV production in Ontario."

General Motors maintains it’s committed to sourcing battery-ready raw materials in Canada. The carmaker is doing supply deals directly with Canadian mining companies to feed nickel sulfate into its soon-to-be-built battery cathode processing facility in Bécancour, Que.

GM recenty signed a supply deal with Brazilian mining giant Vale's Canadian operations and said it is actively pursuing additional supply agreements with other Canadian miners to feed critical minerals into GM's own domestic supply chain.