Canadian governments need to ensure they have the right policies and regulations in place for the country’s battery metals sector to compete in global markets, says a new report from the Battery Metals Association of Canada (BMAC).
The BMAC report, Maximizing Canada’s battery metals sector, looks at how Canada can build a thriving “mines to mobility” supply chain to capture the growing opportunity in the battery metals sector. The growth in demand across the supply chain has the potential to create annual revenues of $300 billion in 2030, an eight-fold increase from today, according to a recent study by the World Economic Forum.
Based on a virtual workshop held in late March that brought together leaders from the battery metals supply chain, the report examines what role governments can play in incentivizing development of each segment of the supply chain, including: mining, chemical production, battery components, battery cell manufacturing, end-use applications, and recycling. It also presents views from workshop participants on what policies and regulations could help Canada compete globally.
Many attendees said there were several opportunities to create regulatory incentives, and better streamline existing regulations (specifically environmental and project approval policies that can be ill suited to the resources specified, adding to costs and timelines), to enable Canada to rapidly advance the battery metals supply chain and compete globally.
High labour costs, transportation and project development costs are challenges. Despite a potential means to support new projects, tax incentives do not adequately reflect the growing importance of battery metals or a national drive to expand this sector. Some participants also expressed that Canada is seen as a high-risk country to invest in because of such regulatory challenges, disincentives and uncertainties.
There was general consensus that industry needs to work with governments to remove or reduce regulatory hurdles and streamline the approval process to accelerate development times and lower project costs. Governments were also identified as having a key role in supporting research and development goals, enabling collaboration, and providing financial incentives to ensure success.
Another important part of this effort is to encourage government to build out strategic infrastructure to support prospective projects and regions while lowering energy and transportation costs. Attendees also identified government’s role in providing more support to educate and train workers for jobs in the battery sector and deploying productivity enhancing technologies.
Given the number and scale of challenges facing the development of the Canadian battery supply chain and the complexity of potential solution pathways, there is a need for an over-arching framework to enable success. Many attendees suggested the need for a national battery metals policy to align regulations and incentives to encourage development of the supply chain.
They added that components of the global supply chain are already receiving important government support elsewhere in the world, leading to conditions at odds with conventional free market competition. Other countries, even entire regions are competing to own battery supply chains, while individual Canadian companies struggle to compete.
Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic were also recognized: Canada cannot rely on other countries to meet its demand for critical goods. There is a need to develop domestic or North American focused regional supply chains that are resilient in times of crisis.
“Canada has all the right ingredients to become a sustainable and reliable source of battery grade products to supply the expanding battery market,” says Liz Lappin, VP Corporate Affairs and Exploration for E3 Metals, and current president of BMAC. Lappin says events like the BMAC workshop help all the players come together to identify shared challenges. “Events like this provide a platform to collaborate and accelerate the industry’s work to make that vision a reality.”
Morgan Rodwell, Senior Director Process Technology, Fluor Canada Ltd., says the BMAC workshop provided a window into the many challenges in building out the supply chain.
“The cross section of industry players in attendance meant that we were able to hear from people in mining through to recycling. It provided opportunities to understand the challenges faced by each player at the table, and to dive deeper into understanding specific needs,” he says
BMAC will build upon the workshop results to help amplify and connect voices across the Canadian supply chain and to advance a vision for the battery metals industry, from mining to end use and recycling.
Sponsors of the workshop were: E3 Metals, Fluor Canada, GLJ Inc. Matrix Solutions, McCarthy Tétrault, and Spartan Controls.
Download the report here.