By Jeff Lewis
TORONTO (Reuters) – Junior miner Canada Nickel Co Ltd has held talks with U.S. government officials about potentially supplying nickel for electric car batteries, its chief executive said, amid mounting concern in Washington about China’s dominance of global supply chains.
“It’s become very clear that there’s large portions of the periodic table for which the United States has no local source of supply,” Canada Nickel chief executive Mark Selby said in an interview. He confirmed the talks but declined further comment.
Canada Nickel’s sole project, the Crawford nickel deposit in Ontario, is not expected to begin production until the middle of the decade. Construction of an $800 million to $1 billion mine and mill is slated for 2023, pending financing and permitting.
The outreach to Canada Nickel shows heightened U.S. government interest in securing supplies of critical minerals used in everything from electric vehicles to advanced weaponry.
U.S. President Joe Biden plans to review critical U.S. supply chains while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week told Reuters there is potential for greater cross-border integration to spur mineral development.
U.S. Commerce Department officials held an introductory call in August with the miner to gauge its “ability to supply critical minerals, especially as it relates to EV batteries” and later offered an introduction to the U.S. Export-Import Bank credit agency, e-mails from the U.S. consulate general in Calgary show. The office did not respond to a request for comment.
Separately, the U.S. Department of Energy’s advanced research arm has sought the miner’s input on “energy relevant mineral extraction,” a separate e-mail seen by Reuters shows. Program director Douglas Wicks declined to comment.
Nickel makes batteries energy-dense so cars can run farther on a single charge. Demand is forecast to double by 2030, driven by use in EVs (electric vehicles).
Miners have touted low-carbon supplies from Canada to meet growing demand.
(Reporting by Jeff Lewis; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)