Federal Government's Discussion Paper on Critical Minerals Strategy

On June 14, Natural Resources Canada issued a news release entitled "Minister Wilkinson Launches Discussion Paper to Inform Canada's Critical Minerals Strategy." It was followed the next day by another, entitled "Minister Wilkinson Positions Canada as a Global Leader in Sustainable Mineral Development and Green Mining Innovation."

In both news releases, the Trudeau government continues to argue out the "urgent need to develop Canada's critical minerals supply chains" with "a focus on the following six minerals: lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt, copper, and rare-earth elements," which it presents in its Discussion Paper.

The Discussion Paper explains, "These minerals have been selected because they offer the greatest economic growth and employment opportunities across the country, including for Indigenous peoples, along the entire value chain (exploration, mining, processing, manufacturing, and recycling). In addition, these six minerals support the manufacture of value-added products, including clean technologies, information/communication technology, and advanced manufacturing."[1]

In reference to the Discussion Paper, Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, announced that the Government of Canada will be seeking "input from provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples, industry and interested stakeholders on Canada's upcoming Critical Minerals Strategy" between now and September 15, 2022.

The input will be "guided by five key outcomes:

- economic growth and competitiveness;

- environmental protection and climate action;

- enhanced security and partnership with allies;

- advancing reconciliation; and

- advancing diversity and inclusion."

All of this is done in the name of high ideals such as "to help support Canada's just transition toward a net-zero emissions economy," "to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels," "require more minerals to enable the clean energy transition," "Partnering with Indigenous Peoples in natural resource projects," "foster diverse and inclusive workforces and communities," and so on. An impression is created that it is the Canadian people and Indigenous peoples who will benefit from what the Trudeau government calls the "net-zero emissions economy," "clean energy transition," "natural resource projects" and "advancing Indigenous reconciliation." Far from it.

In announcing the Discussion Paper, the Government of Canada talks about "international collaboration" so as to "enhance global security and partnerships with allies," whereby "Canada is working with the United States, European Union, and other international partners to sustainably develop critical minerals, advance science, research and development on critical minerals, and strengthen collaboration on environmental standards, transparency and the security of supply chains for the green and digital economy."

This "international collaboration" is to hide the fact that Canada has sided with U.S. imperialist striving for world hegemony, in their rivalry with Russia and China. This can be seen in the Roadmap for Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership, signed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden in February 2021.

Critical Minerals Supply Chains to Serve the War Economy

On the same day the Roadmap for Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership was announced, February 24, 2021, the Biden administration issued Executive Order 14017 on America's Supply Chains, which amongst other things states:

"The Secretary of Defense (as the National Defense Stockpile Manager), in consultation with the heads of appropriate agencies, shall submit a report identifying risks in the supply chain for critical minerals and other identified strategic materials, including rare earth elements (as determined by the Secretary of Defense), and policy recommendations to address these risks. The report shall also describe and update work done pursuant to Executive Order 13953 of September 30, 2020 (Addressing the Threat to the Domestic Supply Chain From Reliance on Critical Minerals From Foreign Adversaries and Supporting the Domestic Mining and Processing Industries)."

The 250-page follow-up report is entitled, Building Resilient Supply Chains, Revitalizing American Manufacturing, and Fostering Broad-based Growth: 100-Day Reviews under Executive Order 14017. In it the White House writes of the issue of critical minerals:

"Given the importance of lithium batteries to the warfighter, assured sources of critical minerals and materials and both domestic and allied capability for lithium cell and battery manufacturing are critical to U.S. national security. The supply chain security of minerals, materials, cells, and battery components is of concern today."[2]

When presenting Budget 2022 in April, the Trudeau government with the support of the NDP, showed it was in lockstep with the plans of the Biden administration for critical minerals supply chains, as part of the U.S. strategy to dominate Asia, Europe and other parts of the world.

The June 15 news release from Natural Resources Canada states amongst other things, "In Budget 2022, Canada committed $3.8 billion over eight years for a Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy to support the development of and attract investment in Canada's critical minerals."

Budget 2022 Pay-the-Rich Schemes Linked to
Critical Minerals Strategy

The pay-the-rich schemes put forward by the Trudeau government in Budget 2022 are in the form of financial measures of up to $3.8 billion to implement Canada's first Critical Minerals Strategy, starting in 2022-23. These are mostly in support of mining companies extracting critical minerals.

Location map of Canada's Critical Mineral Projects (Budget 2022, Government of Canada) 

Specific measures include:

- Up to $1.5 billion over seven years, starting in 2023-24, for infrastructure investments that would support the development of the critical minerals supply chains, with a focus on priority deposits.

- Providing up to $1.5 billion, starting 2024-25, to support critical mineral projects, with a priority focus on mineral manufacturing, processing, and recycling applications.

- Providing up to $144.4 million over five years, starting in 2022-23, to Natural Resources Canada and the National Research Council to support research and development of technologies and materials on which critical mineral value chains depend.

- Allocating $103.4 million over five years, starting in 2022-23, to develop a National Benefit-Sharing Framework for natural resources, and the expansion of both the Indigenous Partnership Office and the Indigenous Natural Resource Partnerships program.

- The introduction of a new 30 per cent Critical Mineral Exploration Tax Credit for specified mineral exploration expenses incurred in Canada and renounced to flow-through share investors.

This is what Green Car Congress, a daily newsletter dedicated to "Energy, technologies, issues and policies for sustainable mobility" had to say about the Critical Mineral Exploration Tax Credit:

"The tax credit would apply to certain exploration expenditures targeted at nickel, lithium, cobalt, graphite, copper, rare earth elements, vanadium, tellurium, gallium, scandium, titanium, magnesium, zinc, platinum group metals, or uranium, and renounced as part of a flow-through share agreement entered into after Budget Day and on or before March 31, 2027.[3]

"The Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV) are the world's primary listing venues for mining and mineral exploration companies, with more than 1,170 issuers in 2021. Between 2017 and 2021, almost $45 billion of the world's total equity capital for these mineral exploration and mining companies was raised by companies listed on the TSX or TSXV.

"Canada already supplies many of the minerals deemed critical by the United States. In 2020, bilateral mineral trade was valued at $95.6 billion, with 298 Canadian mining companies and a combined $40 billion in Canadian mining assets south of the border," the Discussion Paper states in Appendix F – "Canada's Global Cooperation on Critical Minerals."

A year later, in March 2021, the U.S. Department of Commerce launched a program to help U.S. mining companies and battery makers expand into Canada. The move is part of a strategy to boost regional production of minerals used to make electric vehicles (EVs) and "counter Chinese market dominance." Not surprisingly, more and more of these critical mineral deposits in Canada are being bought out by foreign private interests, mostly Australian, U.S. and British, with the help in certain cases of foreign governments, as is the case with the United States.


This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 7 - July 17, 2022

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