Ramifications of the Plunder of Critical Minerals and Rare Earth Elements

Canada Joins Dangerous U.S. Critical Minerals Supply Chain

– Fernand Deschamps –

Sudbury picket, September 6, 2018, against planned development of Ring of Fire, without Indigenous consent. Extraction of critical minerals make up a major portion of the mining planned for the area.

The U.S. State Department on June 14 announced the establishment of a "Minerals Security Partnership" (MSP) which includes Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, the UK, the U.S. and the European Union (EU). It commits "to building robust critical mineral supply chains to support economic prosperity and climate objectives."

The State Department informs that the announcement was made in Toronto "during the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada [PDAC] convention, the largest mining event in the world." The State Department goes on to state that:

"The goal of the MSP is to ensure that critical minerals are produced, processed, and recycled in a manner that supports the ability of countries to realize the full economic development benefit of their geological endowments. Demand for critical minerals, which are essential for clean energy and other technologies, is projected to expand significantly in the coming decades. The MSP will help catalyze investment from governments and the private sector for strategic opportunities – across the full value chain – that adhere to the highest environmental, social, and governance standards."

Global Times calls the MSP a dangerous signal of the U.S. push to decouple China from mineral supply chains. The newspaper quotes a Beijing-based expert on international security who asked for anonymity saying: "The acts or calls for pushing decoupling with China just proved that the U.S. is not going to fix ties with China or Russia for the sake of world peace, but will keep its hostile moves to pressure China and Russia to serve its strategic competition that aims to protect its hegemony."

In that same vein, on February 22, two days prior to the Russian military intervention in Ukraine, the White House issued a statement entitled "Securing a Made in America Supply Chain for Critical Minerals" as part of what it called "breaking dependence on China." The statement goes on to say that "In June (2021), the Biden-Harris Administration released a first-of-its-kind supply chain assessment that found our over-reliance on foreign sources and adversarial nations for critical minerals and materials posed national and economic security threats." At the end of that statement, it is mentioned that "In October (2021), President Biden streamlined the National Defense Stockpile by signing Executive Order 14051 to delegate authority [for] release of strategic and critical materials to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment."

Executive Order 14051 on the Designation to Exercise Authority Over the National Defense Stockpile, "confers authority related to the release of strategic and critical materials from the National Defense Stockpile to improve Federal Government efforts around stockpiling for national defense purposes." Section 3 — Execution and Consultation, states: "In executing the authority conferred by this order, the Under Secretary [of Defense] may release strategic and critical materials from the National Defense Stockpile for use, sale, or other disposition only when required for use, manufacture, or production for purposes of national defense. No release is authorized for economic or budgetary purposes."

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an "independent, nonpartisan membership organization," a think tank that brings together the ruling factions and includes former members of various administrations, such as Elliot Abrams, a National Security Advisor for Trump, Condoleeza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State under Bush and Richard Hass, a major Clinton backer.  CFR said:  "The Defense Department reportedly stockpiles rare earth minerals, which are used to manufacture advanced weaponry, and lithium, a critical input for advanced batteries, to curb its reliance on Chinese sources. The Pentagon also maintains a National Defense Stockpile of about $1.1 billion worth of various metals."

The Pentagon's Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), "The Nation's Combat Logistics Support Agency," advertises on its website that "DLA Strategic Materials stores 42 commodities with a current market value of over $1.1 billion at six locations in the U.S. Commodities range from base metals such as zinc, cobalt, and chromium to the more precious metals such as platinum, palladium, and iridium. There is no private sector company in the world that sells this wide range of commodities and materials." In other words the U.S. government provides the nation's supply chain with critical minerals needed for production of weapons by the military contractors, as much in times of peace as in times of war. Canada also plays an important part in that supply chain.

The location, timing and nature of the announcement of the MSP are indicative of U.S. dictate and Canada's integration into the U.S. economy and war machine and raises serious questions about what is going on.

A June 15 news release on the Government of Canada website states that Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, took part in the PDAC convention where he advanced the development of the MSP. It paraphrases the U.S. State Department news release. No other information is given, such as a backgrounder, except for a link to the State Department news release.

At the PDAC convention, Minister Wilkinson also released "the Critical Minerals Strategy discussion paper, which seeks input from provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples, industry and interested stakeholders on Canada's upcoming Critical Minerals Strategy." Consultations on this paper will take place from June 14 to September 15, with submissions to be made by email.

The discussion paper is entitled "Opportunities from Exploration to Recycling: Powering the Green and Digital Economy for Canada and the World."

In the Minister's foreword to the paper, Wilkinson speaks euphemistically about U.S. contention and economic warfare with China vis-à-vis critical minerals in this way: "At the same time as these projections for increased demand, geopolitical uncertainty has magnified the precariousness of existing sources of minerals and metals.

"Governments around the world have begun to assess their vulnerability to supply shocks for commodities they cannot sufficiently source inside their own borders but on which their economies depend."

He also notes that Canada "is home to almost half of the world's publicly listed mining and mineral exploration companies, with a presence in more than 100 countries. With a combined market capitalization of $520 billion."

Canadian mining companies are globally infamous for their abuse of the peoples and natural environment in countries where they operate. In Canada, the Indigenous peoples are already familiar with bogus consultations that in practice are used to deny their hereditary and treaty rights to exercise control over their territories.

The world's biggest mining monopolies, such as Glencore (with headquarters in the UK and Switzerland) and Rio Tinto (UK, Australia), are already well known to workers in Canada and elsewhere for their anti-worker practices.

Besides stoking conflict with China, the U.S.-led MSP and Canada's Critical Minerals Strategy discussion paper indicate the dangers in store for the workers and peoples of the world. These war preparations are done in the name of “environmental protection and climate action,” “reconciliation” with Indigenous peoples and the so-called green economy.

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

Article Link:


Website:  www.cpcml.ca   Email:  editor@cpcml.ca