On March 11, 2021, the Government of Canada published its 2021 Critical Minerals List, identifying certain minerals of key national importance. The 31 listed minerals are considered by federal government to be critical to the sustainable economic success of Canada, its allies and its key trading partners. In determining the minerals for inclusion on the Critical Minerals List, Natural Resources Canada considered several key factors, including Canada’s economic security, Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy, and the need for sustainable sources of critical minerals both domestically and internationally.
The Critical Minerals List is comprised of the following minerals:
• Platinum group
• Rare earth elements
The Critical Minerals List was created and developed in consultation with mining industry participants and provincial governments, and forms part of the Canadian government’s broader Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan, which outlines the future of the Canadian mining industry.
The list reflects Canada’s supply of, and production capacity for, many of the listed minerals, and the increasingly important role of these minerals in the global economy. For example, Canada is the only Western country to have significant deposits of cobalt, graphite, lithium and nickel, all of which are critical components to battery and electric vehicle production. Canada is also the world’s second largest producer of niobium and indium, key to the aerospace industry and advanced manufacturing supply chains. The critical minerals identified are considered by Canada to be essential to a number of growing industries, including electric vehicle manufacturing, aerospace, agriculture, consumer electronics, healthcare, telecommunications, and clean energy. Future development of these industries is dependant on supplies of the requisite materials, and the Critical Minerals List represents the federal government’s commitment to strengthen domestic supply chains for these minerals. Additionally, securing supplies of critical minerals and developing green technology in which they are used will be key in helping Canada achieve its goal of reaching net zero emissions by the year 2050.
The Critical Minerals List also confirms Canada’s intention to position itself as a global supplier of choice for minerals that are vital to the world’s transition to a clean and digitized economy. In support of this objective, the Canadian federal government included in its recently-announced 2021 federal budget several funding programs and measures, which are designed to expand the production and manufacturing of critical minerals in Canada, including the commitment of $9.6 million in funding to establish a Critical Battery Minerals Centre of Excellence at Natural Resources Canada, and $36.8 million over three years for research and development programs to advance critical battery mineral processing and refining expertise in Canada. With Canada seeking to establish an end-to-end domestic battery electric vehicle supply chain, we expect that additional government programs and policies will be announced in the near future to support the promotion and expansion of domestic production of the minerals on the list.