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No Nickel, No Way: U.S. government held talks with Canada Nickel on supplying metal for EV batteries

Toronto, Ontario — Junior miner Canada Nickel Co. Ltd. has held talks with U.S. government officials about potentially supplying nickel for electric car batteries. 

“It’s become very clear that there are large portions of the periodic table for which the U.S. has no local source of supply,” Canada Nickel chief executive Mark Selby said in an interview. He confirmed talks but declined to comment further. 

Canada’s Nickel’s sole project, the Crawford nickel deposit in Ontario, is not expected to begin production until the middle of the decade. However, construction of a U.S. $800 million to one billion mine and mill project is expected to begin construction for 2023 pending financing and permitting. 

According to Selby, the outreach to Canada Nickel reveals the U.S. heightened concern regarding China’s dominance of global supply chains in the industry. 

U.S. President Joe Biden plans to review critical U.S. supply chains while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week mentioned the potential for greater cross-border integration, to help spur mineral development.

U.S. commerce department officials held an introductory call in August with the Canadian 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, according to e-mails from the U.S. consulate general in Calgary. 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 shows. Program director Douglas Wicks declined to comment.

Nickel makes batteries energy-dense so cars can run farther on a single charge. Demand is expected to double by 2030, driven by use in electric vehicles (EVs).

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