Opinion: We’re falling further behind China in critical minerals – by Heather Exner-Pirot (Financial Post – May 16, 2024)


China is working hard to maintain its control of the rare earths markets that are critical to net-zero. We’re barely in the game

At the time, the opening of a small rare earths mine in the Northwest Territories in 2021 was heralded as an important step in breaking China’s monopoly over this strategic commodity. Rare earths are used in everything from electric vehicles and cell phones to wind turbines and jet engines.

China currently extracts more than 60 per cent of rare earth elements and processes as much as 90 per cent of global supply. The case of Vital Metals and the Nechalacho mine show just how far it’s willing to go to maintain a stranglehold on the rare earths market. What was once a hopeful story is now a cautionary tale.

The call to develop friendly supply chains for critical minerals has grown louder in the past few years, with the deterioration in the geopolitical environment, the rising prominence of energy security and continuing urgency about de-carbonizing. Rare earth elements have always been on the geo-political radar, however, both because of China’s control of their mining and processing and its history of weaponizing its dominance through trade restrictions.

For the rest of this column: https://financialpost.com/opinion/canada-falling-behind-china-critical-minerals