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Canada expands official critical minerals list with three new additions

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By Colin Hay - 
Canada critical minerals official list updated

Canada, which is investing billions of dollars into developing a world-class critical minerals mining sector, has added high-purity iron, phosphorus and silicon metal to its official list of minerals designated.

Canada has one of the world’s most comprehensive lists with 34 entries, including high-profile critical minerals such as copper, lithium, nickel, magnesium and uranium.

The initial Canadian list was released in 2021 and updated in 2024 after consultation with provinces and territories, indigenous organisations and communities and exploration, mining and manufacturing industries and associations.

Strict criteria

Considered by many to be the foundation upon which modern technology is built, critical minerals are used in a wide range of essential products ranging from mobile phones and solar panels to electric vehicle batteries, medical devices and defence applications.

To be considered for inclusion on the list, a mineral must meet certain strict criteria.

These include being an element for which there is a reasonable chance of being produced by Canada and where the supply chain is threatened, being essential to Canada’s economic or national security, positioning Canada as a sustainable and strategic partner within global supply chains and being required for the national transition to a sustainable low-carbon and / or digital economy.

High-purity iron is considered essential to green steelmaking and decarbonisation, phosphorus is a critical mineral used in batteries and for food security and silicon metal is a key component in semiconductors and computer chips.

Iron inclusion welcomed

One company celebrating Canada’s inclusion of high-purity iron ore is Champion Iron (ASX: CIA).

“We applaud the government of Canada for joining those of Québec and Newfoundland and Labrador in identifying high-purity iron ore in their respective critical minerals lists,” said Champion chief executive officer David Cataford.

“Such recognition highlights our company’s rare solution to decarbonise the steel industry, which represents nearly 10% of global carbon emissions.”

“The Labrador Trough hosts one of the largest resources of high-purity iron globally, creating an exceptional opportunity for Canada to become a global sustainable leader in the green steel supply chain.”

Nickel X’s uranium ambitions

Uranium’s inclusion is also a potential windfall for explorer NickelX (ASX: NKL).

NickelX added the Elliot Lake uranium project in Ontario to its portfolio earlier this year and has already identified the potential for the project to host uranium mineralisation in large-scale formations.

The project is located adjacent to the world’s largest commercial uranium refinery, Cameco’s Blind River and is also along strike from the well-known Elliot Lake uranium district, which historically produced 362 million pounds of uranium oxide from 13 underground mines.

The company is now preparing to commence a field work program that includes verification of uranium occurrence and drill hole locations, mapping, sampling and drill hole siting for a potential campaign targeting the northern hemisphere summer.

The company’s highest priority target is the Crazy Lake-Gods Lake Trend sitting along strike from the large historic Quirke No 1 mine, which exploited uranium-bearing conglomerate beds (reefs) of approximately 13 kilometres in length and up to 5.5km wide.

New funding support

The release of the updated list came at the same time the Canadian government was making $11 million in new investments to support critical minerals mining in Northern Ontario.

The government has granted matching $5.4m investments in Electra Battery Materials and Mining Innovation Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corp to support the global demand for battery metals.

Canadian minister of energy and natural resources Jonathan Wilkinson said the new funding would help advance the development of competitive critical minerals value chains in Canada and Northern Ontario.

“This funding will increase mineral and energy security, create good jobs and support economic opportunities to build a cleaner Canada and a prosperous, sustainable economy that works for everyone.”