Canada joins critical minerals alliance and moves to speed up permitting process
The United States, Canada and other western nations announced the Sustainable Critical Minerals Alliance during the COP15 talks on biodiversity in Montreal, Canada. The alliance aims to produce and acquire critical minerals with strong environmental and labor standards.
The alliance will target elements such as lithium, cobalt and nickel and could help the western nations reduce their dependence on China for critical minerals.
“Unless China and Russia are willing to put in place … measures required to be able to legitimately say that they are supporting these kinds of standards then it would essentially mean … we will be buying alternatives as we can,” Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson told Reuters.
China continues to dominate the much of the critical minerals supply chain and western nations will not be able to replace that supply any time soon, but the alliance is another step toward mineral independence.
Separately, Wilkson announced efforts in Canada to get critical mineral projects into production quicker by streamlining the permitting process. Wilkinson’s stated goal is build the projects in less than a decade.
“We need to get to the point where we can get these mines from concept to production certainly within a decade, and ideally less than that,” Wilkinson said.
Bloomberg reported that Wilkinson’s ministry published a critical minerals strategy that pledged to review Canada’s approval process for developing mines. Government estimates show it can take up to 25 years for a mining project to become operational. Wilkinson said he expects policy recommendations on streamlining processes within the next 12 months.
The time it takes to build a mine has been a source of concern for mining companies worldwide, given that lengthy approval processes pose investment risks and heightened costs, and is top of mind for many mining CEOs. The head of Vancouver-based Teck Resources Ltd., for instance, said that the Canadian government could help the industry with an approval process that ensures projects get done in a timely fashion.
“If we are going to bring supply online at the pace that the world needs to electrify, we need to shorten those timelines,” Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Price said in a interview with Bloomberg. “Getting the approvals pathway right is very important, but we have to look for opportunities to accelerate so we can bring new production to market more quickly.”