Automotive News Canada - August 2023 - 11

* AUGUST 2023
Lithium production in Canada: Crawl, walk, then sprint?
finally showing some real life after
nearly a decade exhibiting only
faint signs of it.
was slow
to start,
but there's
plenty of
now to get
shovels in
the ground.
On Aug. 2, North American
Lithium's mine near Val-d'Or,
Que., sold its first shipment of
lithium-rich spodumene concentrate,
adding its name to an
exceedingly short
list of producers of
the battery metal in
North America.
A host of other
lithium projects
being developed
across Canada are
poised to follow,
indicating that
despite a slow start,
Canada won't miss
out on its opportunity
to become a
major supplier of
the material powering
the electric-vehicle revolution.
The momentum, led by miners
in Quebec, should buoy Canada's
wider battery ecosystem as well as
add a degree of confidence that
recent efforts to keep the North
American auto industry self-sufficient
through the EV transition
won't whither for lack of materials.
As the North American Lithium
project - co-owned by Sayona
Mining Ltd. of Australia and
Piedmont Lithium in the United
States - continues to ramp up
production, earlier-stage companies
are finding assistance getting
shovels in the ground.
Vancouver-based Patriot
Battery Metals Inc., which is
developing a lithium deposit in the
Eeyou Istchee James Bay region
of northern Quebec, on July 31
landed a $109 million investment
from the U.S. chemical company
Albemarle Corp. Patriot plans to
use the funds to accelerate development
of the site, which it says
could be in production by 2028.
For years, development capital
has been hard to come by for
aspiring lithium miners in Canada.
But Albemarle's commitment to
Patriot is the latest indication that
the investment climate is finally
Nemaska Lithium Inc., a
Quebec company co-owned by
Investissement Qu├ębec (IQ) and
U.S. chemical company Livent
Corp., is also poised to reel in significant
scale-up funding. On June
14, IQ pledged $250 million to
Nemaska, with that money being
The North American Lithium mine in Quebec began shipping
spodumene concentrate in August. More lithium producers
throughout Canada are expected to follow. SUPPLIED PHOTO
combined with unspecified " contributions "
from Livent to help bring
Nemaska's lithium mine and processing
plant online by 2025 and
2026, respectively.
The uptick in activity isn't limited
to Quebec.
On June 19, Avalon Advanced
Materials Inc., which is developing
a mine north of Kenora, Ont.,
firmed up a $63 million investment
with the Belgium-based
miner and material processor
SCR-Sibelco NV. According to its
most recent road map, Torontobased
Avalon aims to have the
lithium mine operating as early as
2026 and a companion processing
plant running by late 2027.
As of this spring, Natural
Resources Canada said 17 conventional
lithium mining projects
were being developed in Quebec,
Ontario and Manitoba, nine of
which were at an advanced stage.
Farther west, unconventional
mining companies in Alberta and
Saskatchewan - without actual
mines - are making progress on
four lithium projects. One by E3
Lithium Ltd., based in Alberta, is
now at an advanced stage.
E3 is scheduled to open a field
pilot plant in August that will test
the company's technology for
extracting the mineral from large
stores of lithium-rich brine water
trapped underground in central
Alberta. If it performs as expected,
E3 will be on track for commercial
lithium production in 2026, joining
the ranks of other Canadian mining
companies working toward
similar targets.
While it has been slow to
materialize, Canada's lithium sector
seems to be gaining traction at
the opportune moment to take
advantage of lofty prices and
seemingly inexhaustible short-term
automotive demand. - ANC
Auto workers deserve better, and the Detroit Three can afford it
has long been central to a strong
North American middle class. That
positioning is about to face a
major test as the Detroit Three
begin negotiations with the UAW
in the United States and Unifor in
Negotiations will be led by a
variety of personalities, some with
little or no bargaining experience
and others who will strive to fix
decades of inequity in one shot.
These negotiations, which formally
began Aug. 10 in Canada
and in mid-July across the border,
will show the true colours of union
The upcoming
negotiations need
to right the wrong
of concessions
made decades ago.
Both the
UAW and
Unifor have
new leadership,
the UAW
Shawn Fain
as president
in March and Unifor electing Lana
Payne as president in August
Fain was elected as a member
of the UAW Members United
reform group and has promised a
more militant approach to negotiations,
definitively declaring that
he will end two-tier wages, reintroduce
cost-of-living adjustments,
win significant increases for retirees
and eliminate alternative work
Two-tier wages were first bargained
by the UAW with Delphi in
2003. Wages and benefits were
cut by US $10 an hour, amounting
to concessions of 30 to 40
per cent. This trend flowed
through the auto parts industry
and quickly made its way into
Detroit Three bargaining on both
sides of the border. The cancer
that was caused still exists today.
Are we entering an opportunity
to correct this wrong or simply listening
to populist sloganeering
from a newly elected union president?
Populist slogans are nothing
new and they know no political
affiliation, but if you're going to talk
that way, you better deliver.
Promises made but not kept
during collective bargaining will be
analyzed and criticized by those
who are your biggest cheerleaders.
While we wait to see how the
negotiations unfold and whether
the likely strike materializes, here's
what I can tell you from experience:
there are experienced
union negotiators on both sides of
the border.
The most seasoned negotiator
for the UAW is Chuck Browning, the
current vice-president, originally
from the shop floor at Ford Motor
Co. For Unifor, Shane Wark, the
assistant to the president and originally
from Ford, will be heavily relied
upon as the senior officer with the
most collective bargaining experience
and knowledge of the industry.
The UAW has staff department
heads who will lead bargaining
with the respective companies.
Unifor has rank-and-file leaders to
head up bargaining with their
employers, with energy and determination
that can only be attained
through shop floor and bargaining
Second, the macro environment
has shifted.
The Detroit Three have fewer
tools in their arsenal than they did
in 2003 or even when they last
negotiated a deal following a
40-day strike in 2019. Previously,
companies used contract negotiations
to whipsaw U.S. workers
against Canadian workers. There
was also always the thinly veiled
threat of moving auto jobs to
Mexico, where labour standards
were much looser.
The United States-MexicoCanada
Agreement - the USMCA
Dias: The USMCA trade deal
has stripped car companies
of one of their most effective
bargaining tools.
- began to fix this mess.
I was honoured to be a part of the
Canadian labour negotiation team
and was locked in Ottawa for the
critical last 72 hours as the deal
was finalized.
During those last three days,
the sticking point, and the issue I
would not back down on, was
automotive. When I buried my feet
in cement, I purposefully left myself
no wiggle room.
I am proud that now, under the
new free-trade agreement, 40 to
45 per cent of auto parts must be
made by workers earning at least
US $16 an hour, and 75 per cent
of the content must be North
American, up from 62.5 per cent.
These provisions will save Canadian
and American jobs and rob the
Detroit Three of one of the most
powerful levers they had.
So, what does success look
like heading into the upcoming
To me, it looks like the elimination
of the two-tiered wage system,
the reintroduction of cost-ofliving
adjustments, significant
pension increases for retirees,
and the elimination of alternative
work schedules. While this might
seem like a lot to ask for, I want
to remind readers of two things.
First, auto workers deserve it.
Second, the Detroit Three can
afford it.
GM profited almost US $10 billion
in 2022 and Stellantis' profits
jumped 26 per cent to a staggering
US $18 billion. Profits for all of the
Detroit Three remained strong
through the first six months of
2023 - GM, Ford and Stellantis
generated a combined US $20.6
billion in net income over the period,
as reported by Automotive
Shrewd negotiators will often
manage expectations, but in this
case, wiggle room cannot be
accepted. In 2020, bargaining in
Canada included the reopening of
the GM plant in Oshawa and new
electric vehicle production for Ford
in Oakville to avoid a complete closure
of that plant. Those were hills
to die on.
The fact is these companies can
afford to properly compensate
workers and treat them with
respect; now all that's left to do is
go out and fight for it. And that is a
hill worth dying on.
- Jerry Dias is the retired national
president of Unifor, the largest
private-sector union in Canada.

Automotive News Canada - August 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Automotive News Canada - August 2023

Automotive News Canada - August 2023 - Intro
Automotive News Canada - August 2023 - 1
Automotive News Canada - August 2023 - 2
Automotive News Canada - August 2023 - 3
Automotive News Canada - August 2023 - 4
Automotive News Canada - August 2023 - 5
Automotive News Canada - August 2023 - 6
Automotive News Canada - August 2023 - 7
Automotive News Canada - August 2023 - 8
Automotive News Canada - August 2023 - 9
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Automotive News Canada - August 2023 - 11
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