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View James Maloney Profile
Lib. (ON)
I call the meeting to order.
Welcome back, everybody. I hope you all enjoyed your time in your constituency and were able to get caught up on quite a lot of things—unless you're in Toronto, where you still can't get things like a haircut. Such is the case; we soldier on.
Anyway, it is good to see everybody, at least virtually. This is the 19th meeting of this committee, and it also happens to be our last meeting on this study topic. We have a very interesting panel today, which is going to bring us to a conclusion.
For our guests today and for our members, all of the sound checks and equipment checks have taken place in accordance with the motions we've passed previously at this committee.
To our witnesses, you have translation services available to you on your machine. You're welcome to and encouraged to speak in either official language, and you will be asked questions in French and English. Because we are doing this virtually, it requires a little bit of patience, meaning you should wait until somebody else is finished talking before you start answering a question. Similarly, I will remind our members to wait until witnesses finish speaking before they start their next question.
On that note, why don't we jump in? Each of our witness groups will be given up to five minutes to make a presentation, and at the conclusion of all of the witness presentations, I'll open the floor to questions. I will warn our guests today that we do have a time limit on presentations, which is five minutes, and time limits on questions for each member. It is my job to interrupt from time to time to remind people that they are running out or have run out of time, and I apologize in advance for doing so.
Today we have, from BlackRock Metals, Mr. Sean Cleary; from Electric Mobility Canada, Daniel Breton; from Nano One Materials, Dan Blondal; and from Propulsion Québec, Sarah Houde and Simon Thibault.
Welcome, everybody, and thank you for coming. Why don't we proceed in the order I just ran through?
That means, Mr. Cleary, you have the floor for five minutes, sir.
Sean Cleary
View Sean Cleary Profile
Sean Cleary
2021-04-12 11:06
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and committee.
My name is Sean Cleary. I'm chairman and CEO at BlackRock Metals. We're building a $1.3-billion critical minerals project in Quebec. You can visit www.blackrockmetals.com for a summary of the project.
This project consists of a fully integrated mine and metallurgical complex that will be built in the federally controlled industrial deep-sea port located in Saguenay, with access to the St. Lawrence and global markets. We will produce three critical minerals, which are vanadium, titanium and nodular iron. The BlackRock project is fully permitted by all governments and is one of the few projects in Canada that is shovel-ready. We're now working to complete construction financing and start construction next year, with full production in 2024.
BlackRock is a commercial hydrogen user and early adopter. It is uniquely designed to use grey hydrogen and is enabled for the conversion to green hydrogen once it is commercially available. This is not a pilot project. The plant will be an example to the world that Canada can lead the way in zero-emissions mining and metals production. The BlackRock project is where the critical minerals strategy and the hydrogen strategy meet.
We have developed close relations with aboriginal communities, having signed agreements with the Innu nations of Mashteuiatsh, Essipit and Pessamit, the Cree Nation Government and the Oujé-Bougoumou band. These are major accomplishments.
Recently, Dr. Abel Bosum, the grand chief of the Cree, spoke to this committee and specifically indicated that the Cree territory in Quebec is rich in vanadium. The Cree have been our strong supporters. They realize that the economic future of their youth passes through the responsible development of their mining potential and specifically critical minerals, which will offer long-lasting and stable careers to aboriginal youth across Canada.
Almost all vanadium comes from China, Brazil, South Africa and Russia. However, vanadium has not been discussed at length in this committee. Vanadium is a critical mineral. It's on your list. It has been extremely important as a steel alloy and battery metal. Currently, North America has vanadium processing plants, but no primary source of vanadium. Canada has a world-class deposit of vanadium in Quebec, which is the BlackRock project.
Vanadium is a critical ingredient for batteries and steel. There is no steel without vanadium. We believe that a strong steel industry focused on zero emissions is at the core of every great nation. Without vanadium, Canada and our allies in America and Europe cannot have a steel industry. Vanadium doubles the strength of steel, resulting in stronger bridges and buildings and safer cars that use less steel. This is vital for meeting product specs, and it is beneficial for the environment. Life-cycle analysis shows that the vanadium related to the steel rebar from the BlackRock project alone will save over 26 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Also, there is no direct substitute for vanadium.
Vanadium is also a key ingredient in electric flow batteries, which are increasingly being used to store wind and solar electricity and balance the electric grid. In fact, the National Research Council of Canada has had a project investigating vanadium flow batteries to secure Canada's electric grid. Time will show that vanadium is a more important critical mineral than even lithium when it comes to battery production and electricity storage. Vanadium batteries can easily be recycled and the importance of vanadium will grow accordingly over the next decade as utilities look to store green energy safely and economically.
Canada can be a global leader in vanadium since BlackRock can produce over 5% of total global output of vanadium per year for the next 70 years.
There are certain things that we could agree on. First is that we have a critical minerals list, but that won't change anything unless major funding, policy and strategy follow.
Second is that the capital markets are knowledgeable on base and precious metals, but there are no pools of capital available for critical minerals.
Third is that unfair trade practices from foreign regimes that manipulate markets and do not follow market rules, including for vanadium, stifle competition and new entrants.
Fourth is that we need appropriate government engagement and willpower to drive critical minerals forward and secure the steel supply chain.
Fifth is that the BlackRock project is entirely centred around ESG. Government should follow this lead to place the critical minerals industry within such a framework to help attract major capital.
Sixth is that we need the federal government to be openly supportive if we want to be a major player in the critical mineral space. It will be necessary to invest significant capital.
Lastly, we would say that we've been having the same talk about this. Right now, it's really just talk. If we don't do something concrete about it, Canada will be left behind on critical mineral supply.
I thank everybody. That concludes my remarks. Thank you to the members of the committee for having invited me and taking the time to listen.
I look forward to answering any questions.
View James Maloney Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Cleary, particularly for staying right on time.
Mr. Breton, now we'll go over to you.
Dan Blondal
View Dan Blondal Profile
Dan Blondal
2021-04-12 11:11
Thank you. I think you actually have the names mixed up. This is Dan Blondal from Nano One, as opposed to Dan Breton from the other company.
Do you want Nano One to go next?
View James Maloney Profile
Lib. (ON)
Actually, no, I was going get Electric Mobility to go next. However, if you're ready to go, that's fine too.
Dan Blondal
View Dan Blondal Profile
Dan Blondal
2021-04-12 11:12
That's fine.
View James Maloney Profile
Lib. (ON)
Dan Blondal
View Dan Blondal Profile
Dan Blondal
2021-04-12 11:12
Good morning, everyone.
My name is Dan Blondal. I speak French fairly well, but I'm going to address you in English, because it's much easier for me.
I left Montreal a long time ago,
so English comes easier.
I am the CEO and founder of Nano One Materials. I'm based here in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Nano One is a clean technology company. We're changing how the world makes battery materials. We have developed a battery agnostic platform for the industrial production of cathode materials used inside lithium-ion batteries.
We have 35 employees. We have 100% Canadian-grown expertise in engineering, materials science, business and financing. We have 16 patents now issued and at least another 30 pending in jurisdictions around the world, which include Canada, the U.S., China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. We are publicly listed on the TSX Venture Exchange. We are well financed, and we are also honoured and privileged to have the ongoing financial support of SDTC and B.C.'s ICE fund.
Our processing technology uses critical mineral inputs such as lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt to make high-performance cathode materials used in lithium-ion batteries. We differ from other chemical producers because our technology eliminates the need for intermediate products, energy and the associated costs and environmental footprint. It uses one-twentieth of the water and eliminates a significant waste stream.
As I said, this reduces cost, energy, logistics, waste, water and carbon footprint, while enhancing battery durability. Just for reference, it could save up to $1 billion for every one and half to two million electric vehicles that are made.
It all starts with mining, of course, but where does all this go? Who turns those metals into battery materials? Who puts them into cells? Who builds the battery packs that go into cars?
Unless we start making battery materials and battery cells here in North America, we will continue to ship our raw materials to Asia, only to bring them back to Canada for production. Europe is busy playing catch-up, and North America is really still at ground zero in these terms. I believe this presents a tremendous opportunity in North America.
China and the rest of Asia are well established and they did so very early, but this has left them with a fragmented and entrenched domestic supply chain that we believe is vulnerable to disruption. Necessity is also driving Europe, of course, and to a domestic, low-carbon, integrated supply chain, yet all this legacy cathode production and chemical production and supply chains persist with lots of water, waste and carbon footprint issues.
Canada is not beholden to these incumbent ways, because those systems are not yet in place. Herein lies the opportunity to be a better technology and value chain leader.
A process such as Nano One's can help integrate the supply chain in Canada and lead the world away from entrenched and wasteful methods. It can help Canadian miners gain an ESG and premium advantage over foreign producers of sulfate, hydroxide and other intermediary products. It can help car companies with ESG, cost and performance imperatives, but it will require government stimulus, private sector collaboration, implementation and supply chain integration.
We are innovators, but we are also collaborators and we are looking to move mountains. Nano One's relationships span the global battery supply chain, from responsible miners to cathode producers and OEMs. If we can leverage Canada's rich experience in responsible mining, clean energy generation, environmental stewardship, technology leadership and battery innovation, we can establish Canada as the greenest, most technologically advanced and highly integrated battery materials production ecosystem in the world.
Before it's too late and before we are forced to be reactive with me-too solutions, it is a Canada-wide strategic imperative to support the build-out of this very ecosystem.
Clearly, it's a global effort and there are opportunities all around the world, so how can we make Canada the centre of gravity for these efforts?
Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak here today.
View James Maloney Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Blondal.
Now we will go to Mr. Breton.
Daniel Breton
View Daniel Breton Profile
Daniel Breton
2021-04-12 11:17
Good morning.
Daniel Breton
View Daniel Breton Profile
Daniel Breton
2021-04-12 11:17
We would like to thank the members of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources for taking the time to hear from us on the very important topic of critical and strategic minerals.
My name is Daniel Breton and I am the president and chief executive officer of Electric Mobility Canada, or EMC.
Founded in 2006, Electric Mobility Canada is one of the very first organizations in the world dedicated to electric mobility. EMC's members include infrastructure utilities, electric utilities, mining companies, vehicle manufacturers, charging infrastructure providers, technology companies, research centres, government departments, cities, universities, fleet managers, unions, environmental NGOs and electric vehicle owner groups. As a result, Electric Mobility Canada is the Canadian organization with the most experience and expertise to help advance thinking, regulation and projects in transportation electrification.
According to a 2020 analysis by Electric Mobility Canada, a Canadian transportation electrification strategy modelled on those in British Columbia, Quebec or California could generate at least $200 billion...
View Bob Zimmer Profile
CPC (BC)
I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
I'm sorry to interrupt our witness, but the volume of the interpretation is a little quieter than the witness. We can't really hear the English interpretation. I wanted to see if that could be corrected.
View James Maloney Profile
Lib. (ON)
Is anybody else having a problem?
View Dane Lloyd Profile
CPC (AB)
I'm having a similar issue.
View James Maloney Profile
Lib. (ON)
You are. Okay.
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