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UK & Canada Increase Ties on Critical Minerals at PDAC 2023

PDAC 2023 marked an important milestone in the UK’s critical minerals agenda. Building on last year’s Minerals Security Partnership (announced between countries including Australia, Canada, EU, Japan, South Korea, US, UK), this year the UK determined to build its presence at Toronto’s premier international mining conference. This was the second international mining conference attended by Minister for Business and Trade, Nusrat Ghani MP, in the space of two months, and it was great to see her taking the time to meet with several UK companies at the event.

UK Government stand at PDAC with representatives from UK Government, BGS, CMA, Cornwall Trade & Investment

The 6th of March was an important day for UK-Canada collaboration on critical minerals. An agreement was signed between the two countries to boost green tech supply chains and to collaborate on critical minerals research. Minister Ghani and Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson signed the agreement, stating:

Signing of the UK- Canada agreement on critical minerals and the government teams that made it happen.

“Both countries are committed to ensuring critical minerals markets are diverse, resilient, guided by fair market practices and underpinned by the highest environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards, along with demonstrating respect for Indigenous peoples’ rights and local communities. Both countries will also seek to ensure that the supply chains that bring these minerals from mine to end product are transparent and innovation-driven, including a focus on recycling and mineral circularity.”

Minister for Business and Trade, Nusrat Ghani MP, said:

“Through this Dialogue, we will work with one of our closest global allies in Canada to build and strengthen our supply chains and boost innovation, securing jobs and growing the UK economy in the process.”

Canadian Minister of Natural Resources, The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, said:

“Canada and the United Kingdom share similar goals and values. By collaborating on the development of the critical mineral supply chains that we need to achieve our net-zero future, we can reinforce global energy security, advance the fight against climate change and ensure significant economic opportunity and support good jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.”

The UK press release can be found here, and the full agreement can be found here.

On the same day that the UK-Canada agreement was signed, the Critical Minerals Association co-organised a networking breakfast with the UK Government at PDAC from 8:00-10:00am. The event was opened by Andrew Mitchell CMG, with speeches by UK Minister for Business and Trade, Nusrat Ghani MP; Deputy High Commissioner, David Prodger; and Kirsty Benham, Founder, Critical Minerals Association.

Minister for Business and Trade, Nusrat Ghani MP, said:

"I’m here in Canada today to see the excellence of the £25 billion pound trade and investment relationship our countries share. No industry is more pivotal to our shared security and prosperity than critical minerals. Like politics at its very best, mining has the power to transform people’s lives."

CMA Founder, Kirsty Benham said:

"We need to have pragmatists in the driver’s seat and focus on the single problem at hand. We cannot afford to be distracted. Government needs to act boldly. It is only by being bold now that governments in the UK, Canada and allies can ensure that our economies have the supply chains required to keep manufacturing sectors within our borders."

Attendees at the UK Government & Critical Minerals Association breakfast event

The event was well attended, with over 100 individuals joining from UK Government, Canadian Government (including Natural Resources Canada and Saskatchewan Government officials), Japanese and EU Government, UK Industry and mining companies, the British Geological Survey, Geoscience Australia, and major mining companies such as Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Vale, and Teck Resources.

It was an important event to present the UK’s critical minerals opportunities, highlighting UK mining and exploration businesses such as Aberdeen Minerals, Cornish Metals, Cornish Lithium, Dalradian, Minviro, Satarla, Tungsten West; important UK institutions such as the British Geological Survey; and research projects like Deep Digital Cornwall.

The Canadian Government also organised an important event at PDAC on the same day. Canada’s Investment Forum was organised by Invest in Canada and Natural Resources Canada in partnership with Global Affairs Canada, and hosted a series of insightful talks on critical minerals.

Canada’s Investment Forum with Canadian Minister Wilkinson, Minister Champagne and Jakob Stausholm.

One of the discussions brought together the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources; Jakob Stausholm, Chief Executive of the Rio Tinto Group; and Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, the Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne.

Minister Wilkinson highlighted how Canada’s competitive tax environment, its regulatory processes that provide certainty, and sources of clean energy are key incentives for attracting investment. He referenced the UK-Canada critical minerals agreement, noting how likeminded nations that share common values-- wanting to combat climate change while respecting the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples-- need to work together.

Minister Champagne’s remit covers Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund which includes $1.5 billion in targeted funds towards critical minerals projects. He explained that the mission of Canada is to be the green supplier of choice to the world and that ‘the speed and scale of the move to electric vehicles is an opportunity like we’ve never seen before - a huge transformation in which Canada can play a key role’.

There were also a number of provincial government events, including evening receptions on the 7th March, where the CMA and several of its members joined the Deputy Minister, Energy and Resources of Saskatchewan, Susanna Laaksonen-Craig, at the Saskatchewan event. We look forward to meeting with other Canadian provincial governments as the UK develops its partnership with Canada on critical minerals.

This was the first year in recent times that the UK hosted a PDAC booth. UK government officials from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, the Department for Business & Trade, the British Geological Survey, and Deep Digital Cornwall were all represented on the booth, with ‘Meet the Critical Minerals Association’ sessions held on Sunday and Wednesday. A number of CMA members also held booths at PDAC this year, including SRK Consulting, Rio Tinto, Satarla which hosted numerous ESG events, and Cornish Metals in its regular stand.

In summary, 2023 marked a very productive PDAC for the UK, and the Critical Minerals Association looks forward to continuing to collaborate with the UK and Canadian Governments on critical mineral supply chains.

Save the date for PDAC 2024 – where UK Government presence will be even bigger!

Article by Kirsty Benham, Founder, Critical Minerals Association

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