Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 23

* MARCH 2024
23
As the industry holds its plans, China expands
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
coming from Indonesia that is
not ESG-compliant that is having
the impact of shutting down
parts of the industry in Australia, "
Wilkinson said.
The " concerning " market trend,
which also extends to other battery
metals, is making it difficult
for companies to raise money to
build mines in Canada and other
Western countries, he said.
The cost of nickel has dropped
about 40 per cent over the past 12
months, according to the London
Metals Exchange. And that's hardly
a standout decline during what
Benchmark Mineral Intelligence
COO Andrew Miller called a " mineral
price paradox. "
Lithium prices are down close
to 80 per cent over the past year,
according to the mineral data and
analysis company, despite surging
demand.
The slump has prompted aspiring
North American producers to
put plans on hold, while China " is
only growing in its dominance at
both the mining level and the lithium
chemical production level, "
Miller said at the PDAC convention.
CHINA'S
SHARP ELBOWS
But while the urgency to build
a North American battery supply
chain is new, China's strategy of
elbowing out mining competition
is a long-term trend, said Hugues
Jacquemin, CEO of Ottawa-based
Northern Graphite Corp.
" There's no doubt that China
has been dumping graphite in
Europe and in
North America
over the years
because they
didn't want people
to invest in
new mines, "
Jacquemin told
Automotive News
Canada.
prices have
curtailed
North
American
investment
in metals
production,
while China
" is only
growing
in its
dominance. "
PHOTO:
LINKEDIN
Over the past
decade, as soon
as a new graphite
mine surfaced
globally, he said,
" you would see
the Chinese putting
their excess
capacity into the
market and selling
it below our cost
and their cost. "
That approach
was among the
reasons Northern
Graphite had preThis
followed two partnership deals disclosed
in January by Quebec's Nouveau
Monde Graphite. Between the separate supply
agreements with General Motors and
Panasonic Energy, the startup has secured
buyers for about 85 per cent of the production
from its planned integrated mining and
processing project in Quebec.
Still, financing remains the industry's biggest
hurdle, De Vries said.
" We have a lot of opportunity, a lot of projects
that people want to move on, but they're
really looking for that capital, " he said.
Northern Graphite is among the companies
still working on financing. It has ambitious
plans to scale up output at its Lac des
Iles mine, in addition to starting production
at properties in Ontario and Namibia.
As with Nouveau Monde, Northern
Graphite also aims to extend its reach downstream.
In June, the company signed a letter
of intent to purchase land in Baie-Comeau,
Que., where it plans to process mined material
into purified graphite ready to be integrated
into EV batteries.
TAKE 'NECESSARY STEPS' OR LOSE CONTROL
But today's slumping mineral prices aren't
making it easy to attract investment, said
Northern Graphite's Jacquemin.
" It's very important for that to be considered
and for governments in Europe and
in North America . . . to take the necessary
steps to protect this infant industry that is
coming to life. "
Otherwise, he said, the
fledgling battery sector
could end up in the same
place as products such as
solar panels, with China
controlling a " huge share "
of the market.
Talks with the United
States, Australia and the
European Union remain at
the relatively early stages,
Wilkinson said. The energy
and natural resources minister
would not specify what
trade actions the countries
are considering. -ANC
Jacquemin:
If European
and North
American
governments
don't
act to protect
the metals
industry in
its infancy,
China will
own the
market.
PHOTO:
LINKEDIN
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expanding its mine in Lac des Iles,
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currently the only graphite mine
in North America producing the
mineral. As with most other battery
metals, China controls the
lion's share of global graphite production
capacity.
GLIMMERS OF HOPE
But some bright spots are
emerging across Canada, said
Sean De Vries, executive director
of the Battery Metals Association
of Canada.
He pointed to the investment
and joint-venture deal
between Frontier Lithium Inc.
and Mitsubishi Corp. announced
March 4. The agreement is
designed to help kick-start
Frontier's mining and processing
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Automotive News Canada - March 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Automotive News Canada - March 2024

Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - Intro
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 1
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 2
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 3
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 4
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 5
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 6
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 7
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 8
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 9
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 10
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - I1
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - I2
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 11
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 12
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 13
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 14
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 15
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 16
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 17
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 18
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 19
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 20
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 21
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 22
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 23
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 24
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 25
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 26
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 27
Automotive News Canada - March 2024 - 28
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