The Government of Canada on Friday released its Critical Minerals Strategy , backed by up to $3.8 billion in federal funding allocated in Budget 2022. (Earlier post.) The proposed funding covers a range of industrial activities, from geoscience and exploration to mineral processing, manufacturing and recycling applications, including support for research, development and technological deployment.
The Strategy maps out how Canada can seize what it notes is a “generational opportunity” in a way that accomplishes five key outcomes:
Supporting economic growth, competitiveness and job creation;
Promoting climate action and environmental protection;
Advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples;
Fostering diverse and inclusive workforces and communities; and
Enhancing global security and partnership with allies.
The Strategy focuses on opportunities at every stage along the value chain for Canada’s 31 critical minerals, from exploration to recycling. The Strategy notes that:
Most critical mineral industrial projects require large upfront investments that are higher risk and may generate a slower return. For example, it can presently take anywhere from 5 to 25 years for a mining project to become operational, with no revenue until production starts. Domestic projects are also subject to rigorous federal and provincial/territorial regulatory assessments to meet Canada’s high environmental and social standards.
Budgets 2021 and 2022 include multiple initiatives to help accelerate project development:
$1.5 billion for the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF to support critical minerals projects, with prioritization given to advanced manufacturing, processing, and recycling applications.
$40 million to support northern regulatory processes in reviewing and permitting critical minerals projects; and
$21.5 million to support the Critical Minerals Center of Excellence (CMCE) to develop federal policies and programs on critical minerals and to assist project developers in navigating regulatory processes and federal support measures.
Canada’s critical minerals list
The Strategy is the result of consultations that validated the Government of Canada’s approach to date—including with respect to the opportunities from lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt, copper, rare earth elements, potash, uranium and aluminum, as outlined a discussion paper published in June.
The Strategy outlines concrete measures to accelerate regulatory processes at the sub-national, national and international levels; to ensure meaningful and ongoing Indigenous partnership throughout the value chain; and to ensure that the Strategy is in line with Canada’s climate and nature protection goals.
The Strategy builds on work already underway within the government, including investments over the past year throughout the critical minerals value chain and a recent approval of a palladium mine in the critical minerals space.