The global market for lithium ion batteries will be $300 billion annually by 2030, according to a recent World Economic Forum report.
Canada is in fierce competition to get a piece of that market, according to a new report just released by 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, and where there are opportunities to expand into export markets. It suggests Canada should consider integrating its battery metal supply chain with the U.S. and other trade partners to compete against China and Asian market leaders.
Based on a virtual workshop held in late March that brought together leaders from all segments of the battery metals supply chain, the report examines current and potential markets in mining, chemical production, battery components, battery cell manufacturing, end-use applications, and recycling. It also presents views of workshop participants on how Canada can grow the supply chain to gain entry into export markets.
There was general consensus among the workshop participants that Canada is behind the rest of the world in building out its battery metals supply chain and is now playing catch-up. Many attendees said while this is a challenge, it is also an opportunity. The U.S., like Canada, also lags behind. By integrating our efforts with those of our neighbours, a North American hub similar to those in Asia could be developed.
Efforts are already under way to formalize a U.S./Canada critical minerals strategy, which should be applied across the entire chain. A North American battery metals strategy could be developed to first meet domestic demand and in time, compete against other global centers of battery production.
By partnering with the U.S., the Canadian battery metals sector would also gain the economy of scale needed to grow existing companies from the start-up phase. This addresses a concern among some attendees that the Canadian domestic market was too small to support a “mining to mobility” supply chain.
The attendees also said a similar partnership working with the EU could be undertaken. Again, efforts are already under way to move this partnership forward.
The idea of integrating supply chains with the U.S. and EU was closely linked to concerns about geopolitics. Attendees pointed out many countries including China see the battery supply chain as strategically important and are tying up mineral supplies and subsidizing manufacturing to gain advantage. An integration strategy would ensure access to key battery minerals and enable the supply chain to develop further downstream.
A broader partnership would also ensure Canadian end-use battery suppliers would have access to a large enough market to compete globally.
Kimberly Howard, a partner with legal firm McCarthy Tétrault, says the BMAC workshop was important in bringing all segments of the battery metal supply chain together to bring attention to its global potential.
“McCarthy Tétrault is pleased to be supporting BMAC on its mission to grow the strength of the battery metals industry in Canada and to bring Canada into the spotlight as a global leader in the sector,” says Howard.
Brian Fuchs, VP Operations at Matrix Solutions Environment & Engineering, noted that partnerships and strong working relationships discussed in the workshop are invaluable in accelerating the build out of a battery metals supply chain in Canada and North America.
“Matrix has been involved in numerous partnerships over the years, which have amounted to outcomes greater than the sum of their parts,” says Fuchs. “We are proud to support BMAC in helping to build these foundational connections and partnerships as the industry matures.”
BMAC will build upon the workshop results to help amplify and connect voices across the Canadian supply chain and 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.