Pierre Benabidès, Lichens | Sara-Emanuelle Dubois, Novaxia | Observatoire Climate Chance
From mobility to the digital transition, the electrification of end-uses relies on precious minerals whose production lies in the hands of a limited number of actors. Countries can only benefit from these minerals if they have the capacity to develop and exploit them or, in the absence of virgin resources, if they can develop secondary resources from recycling and recovery. In particular, the high demand for lithium-ion batteries, which are essential for the widescale deployment of electric vehicles, increases competition to access strategic metals like cobalt, nickel and lithium. Battery recycling tends to take a backseat in industries’ regionalization strategies. Yet the Canadian province of Quebec stands out for providing proactive public support to the emerging battery recycling industry.
In autumn 2020, the government of Quebec launched its “Quebec Plan for the development of Critical and Strategic Minerals: a More Electric Future for an Eco-Friendly Quebec”. What made a jurisdiction at a regional level of governance take on such an ambitious plan in the face of state and private giants? The answer lies in market dynamics, which clearly correspond to the evolution of economic models, particularly in electric mobility and renewable energy production. It can also be put down to proactive public authorities aware of their geological assets and the challenges involved in deploying electric vehicles. Recycling and recovery take a backseat in the regional integration strategies of battery manufacturing industries, but are receiving strong support from the Quebec government, based on a local industrial network whose ambition is to position itself as the leader of north-eastern America – a strategy that is taking shape on the field.