- the u.s. and canada held a private meeting this past week to work on getting required minerals out of the ground in canada, then down across the border, reuters reported. the two countries have already signaled they will work together to build more electric vehicles.
- north american automakers need these materials if they're going to make the millions of motors and battery packs needed for tomorrow's evs.
- this kind of regional cooperation is the way the industry is headed now, with europe and asia already setting up their own localized networks.
as the automotive industry slowly shifts from gasoline-powered to electric vehicles, the value of what's available in the ground is changing. instead of drilling for petroleum in order to function, the auto industry now requires mining for more minerals to build electric motors and batteries for electric vehicles. cobalt and lithium mines are already in development in canada, reuters reported.
automotive supply chains have long been a mix of global and local agreements, so it's not a tremendous surprise that the u.s. is looking to canada to strengthen north american ev production. according to reuters, the u.s. department of commerce held a (virtual) closed-door meeting last week with miners and battery manufacturers in order to get more minerals out of the ground in canada and into the hands of u.s. auto manufacturers, so they have the materials needed to make the electric vehicles everyone agrees will be necessary in the future.
the reason, unsurprisingly, is international competition. vw recently announced that it will build six battery gigafactories in europe, and china is already involved with its own regional supply-chain efforts, to name just two big players in the global ev game. when stainless steel producer tsingshan holding group announced it will supply 100,000 tons of nickel matte to two chinese battery producers, the south china morning post described the nickel market as going "into overdrive" and that what this really proved is that china "continue[s] to show its dominance in the global battery supply chain."
the u.s. department of commerce did not respond to reuters' requests for comment on the meeting, but apparently there were over 30 attendees, including tesla, talon metals, and livent corp. american officials reportedly want to see if canada can become a reliable source for 13 of the 35 minerals that the u.s. is now thinking of as "critical for national defense," reuters said. the department of commerce wants to help u.s. companies expand their footprints in canada as well as overcome logistical challenges getting the minerals back to the united states.
in late february, u.s. president joe biden and canadian prime minister justin trudeau met and, among other topics discussed, promised that the two countries would work together to build more evs. in the road map released following the meeting, the two leaders said they have "agreed to work together to build the necessary supply chains to make canada and the united states global leaders in all aspects of battery development and production.
"to that end, the leaders agreed to strengthen the canada-u.s. critical minerals action plan to target a net-zero industrial transformation, batteries for zero-emissions vehicles, and renewable energy storage."
some agreements for ev minerals already exist between the two countries, including the fact that there are no u.s. tariffs on canadian battery metals or parts for evs and that canadian firms can apply for some u.s. government grants, reuters said. canadian natural resources minister seamus o'regan told the news outlet that the u.s. knows canada is "the most secure and most resilient source of metal imports for them."