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Canada and U.S. to Draft “Joint Action Plan” on Rare Earths / Critical Minerals

After years of missed opportunities to prioritize mineral resource policy, the U.S. government is stepping up its efforts to secure critical mineral resource supply chains.  

The latest case in point is the drafting of a “joint action plan” with our neighbors to the North to reduce reliance on Chinese supplies of Rare Earth Elements (REEs) — which, according to Canadian daily The Globe and Mail citing a federal briefing document, will be “presented to the political party that forms the next government after the Oct. 21 election.”

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed The Globe and Mail’s report in a press briefing, noting that he and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed the need to “ensure reliable supplies of rare earths and critical minerals” during their last meeting.  

According to Bloomberg: 

“[t]he joint plan outlined in the document obtained by The Globe and Mail contemplates including defense funding for critical minerals projects, and strategic investments in North American processing facilities, according to the newspaper. Senior Canadian officials have held meetings since July to discuss ways for the two countries to secure access [to] minerals including uranium, lithium, cesium and cobalt.

News about increased cooperation with Canada comes on the heels of the announcement of a forthcoming roll out of a similar collaborative “action plan” between the United States and Australia, which, according to news reports, will “open a new front against China in a widening technology and trade war by exploiting Australian reserves of the rare earths and other materials that are essential for products ranging from iPhones to batteries and hybrid cars.”

As we recently argued, partnerships with reliable allies like Australia — and now Canada — will go far — “but they must be complemented by increased domestic production of critical minerals in the United States.”  Thankfully, momentum on that front is picking up as well, as evidenced by the latest Senate committee hearing on mineral resource security, during which we saw a rare display of bipartisan agreement on the need for a more “holistic approach” to critical mineral resource policy, and that “when it comes to critical minerals extracting, processing, recycling… now is our call to action.”

Here’s hoping policy makers heed it.