06/28/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/28/2021 13:36
Rome News-Tribune - June 25, 2021
WASHINGTON - U.S. policymakers hoping to power an electric vehicle boom acknowledge the country lacks a robust and reliable supply chain ...
US looks to Canada for critical minerals to support EV battery plans
U.S. policymakers hoping to power an electric vehicle boom acknowledge the country lacks a robust and reliable supply chain for the minerals needed to power next-generation cars…That reality - exposed by the economic aftershocks delivered by the COVID-19 pandemic - looms as a national security risk the administration plans to remedy, in part, by working with like-minded nations. Increasingly, Canada appears to be among the first in line…The White House is signaling plans to increase collaboration between the U.S. and Canada on critical minerals, according to a recent supply chain review that highlighted the country's mineral assets. It's one of several indications the administration sees Canada as a crucial ally to realize its EV goals, including a joint announcement Thursday to collaborate on reducing emissions through clean energy, mineral sourcing and accelerating EV adoption…'No two countries in the world have their energy sectors as closely linked as Canada and the United States do,' Canadian Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan said in a statement. 'It's a relationship that supports thousands of jobs and drives economic activity on both sides of the border. We're strengthening our bilateral energy relationship to build a clean energy future.'..In the long term, President Joe Biden and his administration hope the U.S. can build up domestic mining operations to provide reliable mineral sources such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite at home. But in the short term, they're looking to allied countries like Canada with robust mining operations and compatible environmental standards to help out…It's part of a larger strategy in which Canada is positioning itself to be a 'premium' supplier of battery minerals to the U.S. and other countries looking for transparent supply chains with requirements for environmental and labor safety, analysts say. And compared to other allies like Australia and Japan, Canada enjoys an advantaged tax status and proximity to auto manufacturing centers in Michigan and Ohio…In particular, the latter possibility is sending chills up lawmakers' spines. The leading economic and political rival to the United States on the world stage, China, is home to more than 75% of all battery production capacity and around 80% of global refining capacity for EV minerals, giving it immense influence over the battery supply chain…'It is reasonable to expect that China could restrict exports of any or all of the battery supply chain materials it produces' due to trade tensions or interest in giving priority to Chinese customers, Department of Energy researchers wrote in a recent supply chain review for electric vehicle batteries and critical minerals. 'Alternatively, China could dump processed materials or finished anode and cathode materials on global markets to reduce competition.'…Biden has pledged to make the U.S. a leader in battery manufacturing and to ensure new jobs supported by the growth of electric vehicles will be kept in the U.S… 'A lot of these EV raw materials aren't necessarily scarce around the world,' said Miller of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. 'But attracting the financing and having the technical capabilities to turn that into something that the battery industry can use - that's where the gap is.'…While Canada has an established mining industry, it's not yet producing electric vehicle battery minerals at scale, he said. However, U.S.-Canada trade in critical minerals already exceeds $76 billion, according to the Department of Defense, and Canada also has some unique advantages as a frequent trade partner and geographic neighbor…Being close to auto manufacturing centers in Michigan and Ohio makes Canada a natural supplier choice, as the cost of shipping goes up the further away resources are coming from. Canada also plans to become a center for battery recycling for this reason, Sands said, as lithium-ion batteries are heavy and shipping them from Detroit to Quebec is cheaper than other far-flung areas…Plus, Canada is the only country that can be considered a 'domestic source' under the Defense Production Act, making Canadian companies eligible for some U.S. government funding…This is not the first time Canada and the U.S. have indicated they're planning to collaborate on critical minerals. Former President Donald Trump's administration agreed upon an action plan to secure critical minerals supply chains early last year. The Biden administration doubled down on that commitment in February.