Among the five Canadian-based mining companies at the Critical Mineral Round Table, Rio Tinto and Cheetah Resources Corp. both made formal presentations that piqued the interest of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s during his state visit to Canada in late August.

“The delegation of chairpersons and CEOs from Germany’s leading companies were very interested in Canada’s North as a supplier of responsibly and ethically sourced critical materials, and as a way to reduce their dependence on Russia and China,” stated David Connelly, vice-president of strategy and corporate affairs for Cheetah and Vital Metals Ltd.

The round table, which was primarly geared towards discussions of hydrogen, was hosted by the Natural Resources Canada and Robert Habeck, Minister of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. The German delegation made stops in Montréal, Toronto and Stephenville, NFLD.

“I was impressed by the vibrance, intelligence, global perspectives and gender diversity of the German business leaders,” said Connelly. “It was an incredibly valuable opportunity to have meaningful discussions with the leaders of major global consumers of rare earths for electric vehicle motors and wind turbines such as Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Siemens and BINZ Automotive.”

According to reporting by CBC, on Tuesday, Aug. 23, “the federal government announced it reached agreements with Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz that would help the German automakers secure access to the critical minerals needed for electric vehicle batteries.”

Cheetah is Canada’s first rare earths producer, tapping into the Nechalacho deposit, 110 kilometres southeast of Yellowknife.

“The German business and government delegations were very interested in the North as an environmentally and socially responsible friend and ally that could provide them with critical minerals for the green and digital economies,” said Connelly, whose key takeways from the German business leaders were:

-Mining companies in the NWT are good examples of responsible mining and leadership in Indigenous engagement.

-Green energy for mining and processing is a requirement of customers and funders. Quebec was recognized for achieving 99 (per cent) green energy generation.

-Canada and the provinces and territories were encouraged to have strategic business plans for their critical minerals to capture value-added opportunities such as exploration, mining, processing, advanced manufacturing and recycling.

-Jurisdictions need more timely regulatory processes, while maintaining standards, so Canada won’t miss the critical mineral opportunities associated with the conversion to electric vehicles. “This is a finite window,” Connelly stated.

Scholz and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, summarized that “Canada will need to scale up and accelerate the responsible and ethical extraction and processing of critical minerals to meet the burgeoning demand for transitioning to the green economy and providing diversified supply chains for our friends and allies,” concluded Connelly.

Despite all the growth that occurred at the meeting/roundtable, Vital Metals would remove its managing director in Geoff Atkins in late August as well (but before the roundtable). Atkins would be replaced with interm chief executive Russell Bradford.

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