OPINION: Volkswagen, then Stellantis: Billions for battery plants, but little on mines for raw material – by Giancarlo Da-Re, Matthew Funk and Rachel Ziemba (Globe and Mail – May 16, 2023)


The federal government and many provincial governments have taken some big steps to seize the potential of the green transition, most recently with the $13-billion subsidy, multiyear subsidy for the St. Thomas, Ont., Volkswagen electric-vehicle battery plant. However, this is not a financially sustainable approach.

Less than a month after that subsidy’s price tag was revealed, news emerged that Ottawa is under pressure to match it for Stellantis and LG Energy Solution’s Windsor, Ont., battery plant, with construction at the site halted. And for all their hefty price tags, there is a key ingredient missing from these subsidies.

So far, the investment in Volkswagen’s EV battery plant was more than three times the entire amount dedicated to Canada’s admittedly broad Critical Minerals Strategy, which focuses on sourcing the raw materials for making those batteries. These are critical minerals that Canada has in abundance, but has been slow to build mines to extract and plants to process.

This country has zeroed in on the end product and ultimate goal, but it has neglected the necessary ingredients and the path to get there. It’s a sign of a focus that is further downstream than Canada’s advertised advantages (its mining capabilities), and of a lack of resources dedicated to the deeper challenges holding our country back.

For the rest of this column: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-canada-battery-plant-spending-raw-material-mining/