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U.S.-Canadian Critical Minerals Collaboration Moves Into Next Round

It’s official.

On January 9, 2020, the governments of the United States and Canada formally announced the finalization of the Canada-U.S. Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration to advance “our mutual interest in securing supply chains for the critical minerals needed for important manufacturing sectors, including communication technology, aerospace and defence, and clean technology.”

During their meeting in June 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had resolved to collaborate to “ensure reliable supplies of rare earths and critical minerals.” The subsequently-created U.S.-Canada Critical Minerals Working Group tasked with developing the joint action plan had its first meeting in October, and finalized its work in December. 

According to the official news release issued by the Canadian government, 

“[t]he Action Plan will guide cooperation in areas such as industry engagement; efforts to secure critical minerals supply chains for strategic industries and defence; improving information sharing on mineral resources and potential; and cooperation in multilateral fora and with other countries. This Action Plan will promote joint initiatives, including research and development cooperation, supply chain modelling and increased support for industry.

Experts from both countries will convene in the coming weeks to advance joint initiatives to address shared mineral security concerns — helping ensure the continued economic growth and national security of both Canada and the U.S.”

The announcement ties into the overall context of the U.S. making strides towards embracing an “all-of-the-above” approach we’ve come to know from the energy policy discourse – in the context of working toward “resource independence,” a focus on new mining, recycling and reclamation of new minerals from old mine tailings and close partnerships with allies.  It could not come at a better point in time, because in spite of an ever-deepening partisan divide on many issues in Washington, D.C., the momentum for resource policy reform appears to be growing on both sides of the political aisle as recent official Congressional proceedings have shown.

Our long-standing over-reliance on mineral resource supplies from countries like China has — often unnecessarily — given our adversaries significant leverage over our national security.  

In 2020, we expect policy stakeholders to continue to advance international critical minerals collaboration as part of an overall push to reduce this leverage, and we’ll be keeping tabs on these efforts on our blog.