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Canada, South Korea seek deeper cooperation on critical minerals

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Written by Steve Shearer

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol agreed on Friday to deepen cooperation on critical minerals used in electric car batteries as the two countries seek to cut emissions to combat climate change.

Yoon visited London for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, then New York on his first trip to the United States for the United Nations General Assembly, before arriving in Canada on Thursday. On Friday, Yoon met Trudeau in Ottawa, and then both spoke to reporters.

“Yoon and I discussed ways to collaborate in a variety of areas, including base metals, electric vehicle batteries, and emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence,” Trudeau told reporters.

Canada has several important minerals — such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel — that are now used to make batteries for electric vehicles, and the government is on a quest to help producers and processors ramp up production.

“Canada, as a world leader in metal production, and Korea, a major maker of semiconductors and batteries — both play an important role in global supply chains,” Yoon said through an interpreter.

“Governments and companies in our two countries will work together for the mineral resources sector to build a collaborative structure…to respond to the shocks generated by the changing global order,” Yun added.

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China is currently the dominant global supplier of the important metals used in electric vehicles. It is strategically important for both countries to find an alternative supplier, Yun said.

Trudeau noted that Canada and South Korea are already cooperating in this sector.

In March, Stellantis, the parent company of Jeep and Chrysler, said it would build an EV battery plant in a joint venture with South Korea’s LG Energy Solution in Windsor, across the border from Detroit.

In a joint statement, the two countries said they agreed to deepen their “strategic partnership on supply chain resilience” and would seek to position themselves as “competitive players in the supply chain of critical minerals and value chains for batteries and electric vehicles.”

To this end, the two countries agreed to develop a Memorandum of Understanding in the coming months to “support the clean energy transition and energy security, including in relation to critical minerals.”

(Additional reporting by Steve Shearer; Editing by Sandra Mahler)

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