(Reuters) – The U.S. government is working to help American miners and battery makers expand into Canada, part of a strategy to boost regional production of minerals used to make electric vehicles and counter Chinese competitors.
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Commerce held a closed-door virtual meeting with miners and battery manufacturers to discuss ways to boost Canadian production of EV materials, according to documents seen by Reuters.
A source who attended the meeting said there was no indication that the Commerce Department would offer financial incentives for new mines or other supply chain components in Canada.
But department officials did stress the need to act now to build a U.S.-Canada EV supply chain, much like Europe has been doing and Asia has already done, according to a second source who attended the meeting.
The move comes as demand for electrified transportation is set to surge over the next decade.
Conservationists have strongly opposed several large U.S. mining projects, leading officials to look north of the border to Canada and its supply of 13 of the 35 minerals deemed critical for national defense by Washington.
Lithium-ion batteries are dangerous to transport over long distances, so automakers prefer to have them built near assembly plants. That should aid efforts by Ontario and Quebec to develop their own battery cell plants with both provinces close to U.S. automakers in Michigan and Ohio, industry executives said.
“The border between Canada and the U.S. is inconsequential with respect to EVs and EV minerals,” said Arne Frandsen, CEO of mining investment group Pallinghurst, which is the largest shareholder in Nouveau Monde Graphite Inc, which is building a graphite mine and an anode plant in Quebec.