The Matawinie mine is part of a larger plan to make Canada into a manufacturing hub for lithium ion batteries. But some worry the project isn’t as clean as it claims to be
The Matawinie graphite mine, located about two hours north of Montreal, is a small part of an ambitious government plan to make Canada into a manufacturing hub for lithium ion batteries. Electric cars can’t function without somewhere to store electricity, the thinking goes, meaning this country needs battery supply chains if it hopes to stay relevant in a future without fossil fuels.
But the mine has not yet begun producing graphite at commercial scale. It is still in the early phases of construction and – like many Canadian resource projects – it is riven with controversy.
Although some locals welcome the economic boost it represents for them and their neighbours, others say that whatever the project’s ultimate benefits, its effect on their community will be destructive.
Currently, the majority of the world’s lithium ion batteries are produced in China. Almost 50 per cent of the material used in each battery is graphite, and that too is a China-dominated industry. The country consolidated graphite production in the 1990s by flooding the world market with the mineral, causing prices to collapse.
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