Canada's Role in Guaranteeing Supply Chain of Critical Minerals Using Pay-the-Rich Schemes

Canada and the U.S. announced on January 9 that they had finalized the Canada-U.S. Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration as part of Canada's Integration into the U.S. imperialist war economy, as reported in TML Weekly on February 1,[1] Of the 35 critical minerals identified by the U.S. government agencies, Canada is considered by the United States as its "top supplier" of seven critical minerals: aluminum, cesium, rubidium, indium, potash, tellurium and uranium, while it also supplies six other critical minerals.

Even though the Trudeau government's September 23 Throne Speech is silent on the Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration Canada that signed with the U.S. in January, the Plan is one of many pay-the-rich schemes that the Liberal government insists "create jobs" through the neo-liberal "trickle-down effect."

The Throne Speech says, "[T]he Government will launch a campaign to create over one million jobs, restoring employment to previous levels. This will be done by using a range of tools, including direct investments in the social sector and infrastructure, immediate training to quickly skill up workers, and incentives for employers to hire and retain workers."

As well, the government vows to secure supply chains through structural changes in federal, Quebec and provincial relations, freeing them of any "encumbrances":

"Now, more than ever, Canadians must work together -- including by eliminating remaining barriers between provinces to full, free internal trade -- to get the economy back up and running and Canadians back to work."

As indicated in the 2018 United States Geological Survey document on critical minerals, many of the elements found in Canada have military and civilian applications. Aluminum is used in many civilian and military ground, marine and aerospace applications such as vehicles, naval vessels, airframes and plane and rocket fuselages. Cesium and rubidium are indispensable elements in global positioning satellites (GPS), rocket guidance systems, military infrared devices (night vision), cellular phones and fibre optics, to name just a few.

Indium is used for aircraft windshields, military infrared imaging, flat panel displays for computer and TV screens and for nuclear applications, amongst many other uses. Various rare earth elements (REEs) are used in jet engines; in military guidance, laser, radar and sonar systems; and to make permanent magnets. Tellurium has military applications in infrared devices (night vision) and semiconductors for telecommunication and electronic devices. Uranium has many applications for space missions, nuclear propulsion of military vessels and nuclear power stations.

Of the 35 critical minerals, many others are also extracted in Canada, such as cobalt (in Ontario), niobium, scandium and titanium (in Quebec). Plans are in place for others to be mined, such as chromium (Ontario's Ring of Fire), vanadium (from the tar sands in Alberta and Quebec's Lac Doré complex), lithium (in the James Bay area, Quebec) and REEs (in northern Saskatchewan). In all these cases, Quebec and provincial governments across Canada are providing all sorts of handouts to the rich in the form of infrastructure projects (building of roads, railways, power lines, and research and development facilities) and bailouts.

A recent example is the September 23 announcement by the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC), a Crown corporation of the Government of Saskatchewan, of the start of construction of a $35 million REE processing facility in Saskatoon that will establish a provincial supply chain for REEs. "The Facility, a first-of-its-kind in North America," will be a commercial processing plant of monazite sands. Monazite is "a source of mainly so-called light REEs (especially cerium, lanthanum, praseodymium, neodymium) which are some of the critical elements for the permanent magnets used in clean technologies. SRC will work with the mining industry to secure this feed stock from across Saskatchewan, Canada and internationally."


1. "No to Canada's Integration into the U.S. Imperialist War Economy!" by Fernand Deschamps, TML Weekly, February 1, 2020. 

(With files from TML; Governments of Canada, Saskatchewan and Quebec; U.S. Geological Survey; Globe and Mail; Photos: TML.)

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 40 - October 24, 2020

Article Link:
Canada's Role in Guaranteeing Supply Chain of Critical Minerals Using Pay-the-Rich Schemes


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