Canadian Chamber of Commerce urges federal parties to discuss essential minerals strategy

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The chamber wants to see detailed plans for expanding domestic production, strengthening supply chains and partnering with the United States, where demand is already skyrocketing.

China is the world’s largest producer of rare earths, with more than 60% of the world’s annual production, well ahead of the United States, Myanmar, Australia and India. Canada, meanwhile, is home to around 15 million untapped tonnes of rare earth oxides.

“Canada urgently needs a trade and economic strategy for our own essential mineral deposits,” the chamber warns in a statement to be released Thursday. “To not prepare is to prepare to fail.”

In 2019, the United States Department of State and Office of Energy Resources established a multilateral initiative to ensure reliable supply chains for essential minerals. Canada signed and established a so-called Joint Action Plan with the United States in early 2020.

Officials from the two countries met virtually in June last year as part of a working group on essential minerals to advance discussions on the plan – Ottawa’s efforts have shown it to be serious attract investment to make metals a central part of Canada’s natural resource industry.

In February of this year, meetings between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Joe Biden produced a “roadmap” for a renewed bilateral relationship that included vows to make Canada and the United States “world leaders in all aspects of battery development and production ”.

Since then, however, the US commitment to this plan has been called into question, especially given Biden’s shrill rhetoric about his ‘Buy American’ protectionist doctrine and the apparent disconnect regarding non-essential travel across. the Canada-US border.

Canadians are largely prohibited from crossing the land border for discretionary purposes until at least September 21, although fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents have been allowed to travel north for nearly a month. .

And Biden has promised a tough cap on Buy American exemptions, rhetoric that worries Canadian suppliers and contractors who fear a crippling effect on their ability to do business with state and local governments south of the border.

Canada is already a key source of 13 of the 35 minerals that the United States has identified as essential to its economic and national security – it is the largest American supplier of potash, indium, aluminum and tellurium, and the second largest source of niobium, tungsten and magnesium.

But he needs to do more, says the chamber, including:

– Stimulate national industry through public procurement;

– Establish joint purchasing and storage agreements with its largest and most vital business partner;

– Create targeted tax and regulatory incentives to help launch extraction projects.

“The importance of strengthening reliable and sustainable supply chains for critical minerals and reducing our dependence on China is increasingly important to Canada and the United States,” the chamber said.

“Strengthening our domestic production capacity will strengthen both cross-border supply chains and our national security. It will also reduce our vulnerability to supply shortages in times of crisis like COVID-19. “

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 2, 2021.

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

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