By Jordan Ewart, Senior Director of Policy & Research, Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce
In today’s rapidly evolving global economy, the significance of critical minerals cannot be overstated. These minerals form the backbone of various industries, including technology, food production, and energy generation. Canada, with its abundant mineral resources, has identified 31 critical minerals, but a select group of six minerals has been given top priority. While this prioritization is crucial for clean technology supply chains, it is equally vital to ensure the continued prosperity of existing industries such as uranium and potash.
In this article, we will explore why the Government of Canada should expand its list of prioritized critical minerals to include potash and uranium, highlighting their pivotal roles in food and energy security.
The priority minerals
The six prioritized critical minerals—lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite, copper, and rare earth elements—are integral to the clean technology sector, playing a crucial role in the development of environmentally friendly technologies. The recent introduction of a 30 per cent investment tax credit for clean technology manufacturing in Federal Budget 2023 demonstrates the government’s commitment to fostering innovation and sustainability. These minerals are considered essential for the clean technology supply chains that are driving the future.
However, while these efforts are commendable, it is imperative not to lose sight of the broader economic landscape. Canada’s established critical mineral industries, such as uranium and potash, have been the cornerstones of the country’s economic success for decades. Therefore, they too deserve a place in the spotlight when it comes to government support and prioritization.
The global stage is increasingly competitive, and Canada’s established industries face pressure from countries with differing environmental and human rights standards. This global competition poses risks to the country’s economic stability and sustainability. To mitigate these risks, the government must strike a balance between supporting emerging critical mineral opportunities and bolstering the existing, world-leading industries.
Canada’s role as the top global producer of potash and the second-largest producer of uranium is not a coincidence. These minerals are fundamental to the country’s food and energy security. Potash is a key ingredient in fertilizers, supporting agricultural productivity and ensuring a stable food supply. Uranium, on the other hand, is essential for nuclear energy generation, a low-carbon energy source that plays a crucial role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
To ensure the long-term success and sustainability of Canada’s critical minerals sector, the Government of Canada should broaden its list of prioritized critical minerals to include potash and uranium. Recognizing the importance of these minerals to food and energy security is essential. Further, potash and uranium production should receive the same level of support and incentives as emerging critical minerals. This support should encompass research and development, infrastructure, and environmental standards to maintain Canada’s competitive edge on the global stage.
Finally, the Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy, which was last released in 2022, must undergo regular reviews to ensure that it adapts to changing circumstances. The federal government should avoid concentrating too many resources on new trends while neglecting commodities in which Canada already excels.
Critical minerals are the building blocks of our modern world, influencing technology, agriculture, and energy production. While the prioritization of certain minerals for clean technology is essential, Canada must not forget the significance of its established industries, particularly potash and uranium. These minerals are vital for the country’s food and energy security. By expanding the list of prioritized critical minerals to include potash and uranium, and offering equal support to existing and emerging opportunities, the Government of Canada can ensure the sustainable development of a diverse range of supply chains, securing the nation’s prosperity for years to come.