Canada has dozens of critical minerals. Here are the keys and how to use them – National

Canada has dozens of critical minerals. Here are the keys and how to use them – National

Canada’s new billion dollar plan to encourage him critical minerals The sector will focus on six materials that are crucial components of electric vehicles, clean energy technologies and others.

While the strategy presented on Friday lists 31 minerals classified as “critical”, the six under the spotlight – lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt, copper and rare earth elements – have “the most important potential for Canadian economic growth”. to the federal government.

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Those mining sectors will also be the initial focus of the new plan’s nearly $4 billion in federal investment.

Here’s a look at those materials, what they’re used for, and where Canada stands with each of them today.

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Today, lithium is one of the most demanded materials in the world. Not only is it a key component in rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles, phones and computers, it is also found in metal alloys used in military armor, aircraft and train components, as well as in hydrogen fuel storage vessels.

But its use in batteries makes lithium a key mineral for the global clean energy transition.

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Canada sees ‘generational opportunity’ with new critical minerals strategy

Although Canada does not produce lithium, it has “large hard rock spodumene deposits and brine-based lithium resources” from which lithium can be mined. The new strategy aims to include domestic production facilities that take advantage of these resources.

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Canada’s lithium reserves were the world’s sixth largest as of 2020, but account for only 2.5 percent of global supply. Australia and Chile world leader in both reserves and production.

“We shouldn’t get too excited because we’re going to be one of the biggest producers in the world when it comes to mining,” said Jack Mintz, dean and senior fellow at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy. Fraser Institute.

“Hopefully we’ll have enough production to meet our needs, but we’re definitely not a big producer compared to other countries like Australia.”

The strategy outlines other ways to extract lithium, including through domestic lithium-ion battery recycling facilities.

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Graphite is found in the anodes of rechargeable batteries and the fuel cells of electric vehicles and the brake linings of vehicles. It is also used in electric motor components and frictionless materials – key components of wind turbines and other clean technologies.

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Canada is among the world’s leading producers of graphite Several mines in Quebec and Ontario in operation, newly approved or under environmental assessment. British Columbia’s Black Crystal Quarry and Plant also mines graphite.

Another rechargeable battery component, nickel, can also be found in solar panels and in aerospace and military aircraft.

Canada has nickel production facilities in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, making the country one of the world’s leading producers and suppliers. The country has nearly 3 million tons of nickel reserves.

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Cobalt is mainly found in battery electrodes, but is also used in turbine engine components, vehicle airbags and magnets. Along with lithium, graphite and nickel, cobalt is among the four main minerals needed by electric vehicle batteries.

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The ore is actually produced in Canada as a byproduct of nickel mining, but new projects are looking to change that and increase production, including a major cobalt mine in the Northwest Territories and North America’s first cobalt refinery in northern Ontario.

Canada is already the world’s top five cobalt producer, according to the government.

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An essential wiring material, copper is essential for powering buildings, vehicles, telecommunications and other electrical components. It is also used in solar panel cells and electric vehicles.

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Copper is produced in provinces across the country, unlike many other critical minerals found mainly in Quebec and Ontario. Canada is the world’s leading producer, accounting for nearly three percent of total copper production in 2020.

A group of 15 elements known as lanthanides, the rare earth elements are found in some of the most widely used electronics in modern society, including touch screens, televisions, LED lights and speakers. They are also a key component of permanent magnets, including those used in electric vehicle motors and wind turbines.

Canada has some of the world’s most popular rare earth elements, estimated at more than 14 million tonnes in 2021, according to the government.

In addition to boosting production, the new strategy is also exploring the possibility of extracting rare earth elements from recycled magnets.

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What other minerals are important?

Although it will focus on these six minerals first, the strategy also mentions other materials that “present significant prospects for the future”.

These minerals—including vanadium, gallium, titanium, scandium, magnesium, tellurium, zinc, niobium, and germanium—can be found in a variety of clean technologies and other modern equipment. Potash, uranium and aluminum also stand out.

The government says the list of 31 minerals will be reviewed and updated every few years.

— Global News with files from Saba Aziz and Bryan Mullan

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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