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The Role of Québec’s Mining Industry in North America’s Battery Value Chain

With just 1% of its 1.7 million km2 area currently mined, the Canadian province of Québec holds tremendous potential for mineral exploration and development. Québec’s subsoil hosts a variety of minerals including copper, graphite, niobium, zinc, cobalt, nickel, titanium and lithium, making it a key jurisdiction to provide the minerals of the future. Also known as strategic and critical minerals, they are an essential component of Québec’s energy and technology transition and contribute to the decarbonisation of the economy.

To help accelerate the development of Québec’s mining industry and position the province as a key contributor to the North American critical and strategic metals supply chain, the government has introduced several initiatives to boost mining investment and ensure maximum benefits for the area. This includes a provincial mineral strategy, and commitments to local and Indigenous communities to ensure responsible development.

One organisation working to deliver the government’s policies and encourage investment in the province’s mining industry is Investissement Québec. The organisation offers a range of services, from in-depth guidance to financing, to support businesses looking to work within Québec. Its division, Ressources Québec, provides financial solutions and assistance for companies undertaking resource exploration, development, and processing in Québec. Editor Georgie Purcell spoke to Jean-François Béland, Vice President of Ressources Québec, to find out more about Québec’s critical and strategic minerals potential and what makes it such an attractive mining jurisdiction.

Why is Québec an attractive area for mining investment?

There are many factors that make Québec an attractive province to investors in the mining industry. Firstly, we are a very mining-friendly jurisdiction. We have policy in place to regulate Québec’s mining industry and help accelerate development. We are also a very experienced mining jurisdiction, having hosted mining activity for centuries. Natural resources are core to Québec’s economic activity.

In addition, we offer extensive R&D training in mining and engineering. Québec’s abundance of high-quality deposits for metals such as lithium, gold, copper, and nickel position the province as a central component in the North American supply chain for critical and strategic minerals, offering great potential in the new economy.

How does Investissement Québec support investment in the mining sector?

Investment is at the core of what we do. We help companies to secure the financing they need to get a project off the ground. For example, if the private sector is not able to move forward with the capacity for a project, we are often able to fill the financial gaps and take reasonable risks to accelerate progress.

What initiatives have been put in place recently to encourage investment in the province? What has this done for Québec’s mining industry so far and how does this pair with your work?

There are two central pieces of policy relating to mining in the province. We have the Québec Plan for the Development of Critical and Strategic Minerals 2020-2025 and the Québec Battery Strategy. The policy on critical and strategic minerals sets out a series of goals to help position Québec as a global leader in the production, transformation, and recycling of critical and strategic minerals. The plan delivers a clear focus to achieve this goal, as well as the regulation to do so responsibly.

In contrast, the Québec Battery Strategy is focused on the journey of the battery supply chain, from the mine to the battery cell, including recycling. As an example to explain how this is applied to our work, Québec government, through Investissement Québec, holds 50% of Nemaska Lithium and we are committed to moving this project to be able to supply the value chain. The strategy helps us to achieve this by setting out clear directions on what to do, as well as the missing gaps in the supply chain that require filling.

What do you believe the future holds for Québec’s mining industry going forward?

Our mission is for Québec to be a key component of the battery manufacturing industry in North America, supplying ESG-friendly components. Everything we are doing is core to one element called traceability – we will be able to prove with traceability that a battery component was made in Québec using clean energy and adhering to strict environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.Our first predictions show that, if all the elements of what we are doing in the mining sector are working, according to an internal analysis, 20-40% of the 14 million cars produced in North America in 2019 will contain components from Québec.