Critical minerals

Critical minerals are defined by their essential nature for key sectors of the economy. Their supply is considered fragile. Companies may find it challenging to obtain them because of the explosion in demand, the increasing consumption of these resources or geopolitical considerations.  

There are no substitutes for these minerals. They are essential for the manufacture of certain goods.

Québec’s critical minerals are:

  • Cadmium
  • Cesium
  • Copper
  • Gallium
  • Indium
  • Tellurium
  • Tin
  • Zinc

Strategic minerals

Strategic minerals help Québec achieve the objectives of its key policies, such as the upcoming plan for a green economy and the Politique de mobilité durable — 2030. These minerals are used to manufacture a number of technologies, including green technologies. Thus, they are contributing to the fight against climate change. 

Québec’s strategic minerals are: 

  • Cobalt
  • Graphite
  • Lithium
  • Magnesium
  • Nickel
  • Niobium
  • Platinum group elements
  • Rare earth elements
  • Scandium
  • Tantalum
  • Titanium
  • Vanadium

Geographic location

Many critical and strategic mineral development projects are currently underway in Québec. Most of these mining projects are in the regions of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Côte-Nord and Nord-du-Québec, while processing projects are mostly done in Montérégie and the greater region of Montréal.  

The only active graphite mine in Québec is located in the Laurentides (lac des Îles). Most graphite mining projects are in Côte-Nord, Outaouais, Laurentides and Lanaudière in the geological province of Grenville. 

Nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum group elements mines are located in the Ungava Peninsula, in Nunavik. 

One of the few niobium operations, the Niobec mine, is active in Saint-Honoré in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.

Titanium is mined in Havre-Saint-Pierre, in the Côte-Nord region, while vanadium development projects are located in Chibougamau, in the Nord-du-Québec region.

Lithium development and mining projects are numerous in Eeyou Istchee Baie James and in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, between Val-d’Or and Amos. 

Rare earth elements are actually abundant, but in relatively low concentrations in the environment. Québec has some deposits where these elements are more concentrated, such as the

Kwyjibo development projects in the Côte-Nord region and Strange Lake in the Nord-du-Québec region.

Zinc and copper mines and development projects are concentrated in the southern area of the Nord-du-Québec region and in Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

Use of critical and strategic minerals in daily life

Critical and strategic minerals play an essential part in our daily lives. They can be found in various items we may use every day, like tablets, cellphones, laptops, rechargeable batteries, electric vehicles, telescopes and hockey sticks. 

Other manufactured products include critical and strategic minerals in their composition, such as solar panels, wind turbines, lasers and aircraft engines.

Critical and strategic minerals can also be found in the health sector and are used to manufacture drugs, medical equipment (e.g., lithium and bismuth), dental devices, CT scanners, and cosmetics.  

Review of the development of critical and strategic minerals 

The government has held a public consultation on the development of critical and strategic minerals in Québec. From November 19, 2019, to February 7, 2020, 6 meetings were held in the regions of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Capitale-Nationale, Côte-Nord, Montréal, Nord-du-Québec and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. The purpose was to survey regional stakeholders and Indigenous communities on the orientations that the government should adopt. Overall, 140 participants from the municipal, industrial, mining and environmental sectors participated in this review. Social acceptability, mineral recycling, the circular economy and the contribution of partners were the central themes of numerous exchanges.

Summary

A summary of the consultation’s results was published. It presents the different views that were expressed during the regional meetings as well as in the online questionnaires, comments and briefs filed.

Most organizations and citizens have expressed being in favour of the development of critical and strategic minerals. They expressed their desire that the development of these minerals be done in a way that respects communities and the environment and that it could generate sustainable benefits for the regions and for Québec as a whole.