Critical mineral infrastructure and hydrogen production are two of the centrepieces of a new industrial strategy for natural resources unveiled Monday by Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.
Titled the Regional Energy and Resource Tables, the strategy launched this month in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador, and will extend across the country by early next year, Bloomberg Green reports.
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“It’s being a little bit more thoughtful about economic strategy,” Wilkinson told the news agency. “It’s about actually pulling together the kinds of resources, and looking at the kinds of processes that typically prohibit rapid movement towards securing those opportunities.”
Bloomberg says the strategy is meant primarily to accelerate each region’s shift off fossil fuels, while engaging Indigenous groups and industry to deliver quick results. Funding sources include C$3.8 billion for critical minerals in the latest federal budget, $1.5 billion for clean fuels, and $8 billion in Ottawa’s Net Zero Accelerator.
The focus of the initiative will vary by province and region, Wilkinson said. Newfoundland can look ahead to “at least six or seven large-scale hydrogen production projects using electrolysis, using wind, a number of which have been proposed by pretty credible counterparties and have relationships in Europe that would actually take the hydrogen.”
B.C. is interested in hydrogen, critical minerals, and electrification of heavy industry, Quebec is focused on battery manufacturing and supply chains, Ontario will likely prioritize electric vehicle production, while “in oil-rich Alberta, carbon capture projects will be key,” Bloomberg writes.
“Part of the job of this table will be prioritizing those, looking at where they’re at, are they ready, and looking at the tools that we could bring to the table,” Wilkinson said. He emphasized the need for speed in order for the energy transition to scale up.
“The average mine takes 15 years to bring into production,” he told Bloomberg. “In the context of the energy transition, we don’t have 15 years if we’re actually going to provide enough of the minerals to be able to support just the battery development. So it behooves us to bring everybody into the room to figure out how to do it.”
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