The battery sector isn’t ready yet, with “two to three” big announcements coming soon, according to German Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne. Those announcements will complete the country’s ecosystem, but it’s impossible to know if Quebec will have its share of the pie.
Posted at 9:00 am
Those commitments should be confirmed before the end of July, when the lead prospect returns from a seven-day mission to Japan – destination to which it flies on Saturday – centered around three main themes: batteries, electric vehicles and semiconductor components in electronic chips needed for the operation of electronic devices are essential.
These are structuring announcements for the industry. It’s not like, “We’re going to add 2,000 square feet to a factory.” We will have the complete chain of batteries and electric vehicles in Canada.
François-Philippe Champagne, Federal Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry
The minister did not want to push the sums nor the locations that will host these projects. Since the beginning of the year, Quebec and Ontario have shared the announcements. The first will house manufacturers of lithium-ion battery components (cathodes) found in vehicles – a $5 billion project.
Asked for more details, Mr Champagne replies that his government is “talking to everyone”. With the exception of Recyclage Lithion in Quebec, Ottawa’s battery recycling niche has not received massive support.
“That’s part of the planning,” said the Federal Minister. There is no capacity to mine critical minerals on a sufficient scale to meet demand. Recycling is the circular economy we need to go into. Many things are coming up in the next few weeks. »
Bring back projects
At a time when the Legault government is in talks with Panasonic to bring Quebec into the Japanese multinational’s ecosystem, Mr. Champagne has to spend a full day with the company’s senior management as part of Operation Charm.
“It’s still not nothing,” Mr Champagne said, without going so far as to promise an announcement upon his return to Canadian territory. “It is certain that we will be further with them than before departure [pour le Japon]. »
Companies such as Mitsui (chemicals), Fujitsu (semiconductors and electronics) and Hitachi (electronics) will meet with the minister. He will also devote a large part of his visit to automobile manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki and Mitsubishi. The last three giants on this list do not assemble vehicles in Canada.
With Mitsubishi, the meeting could be an opportunity to talk health as the conglomerate owns 79% of Medicago, a Quebec biopharmaceutical company whose COVID-19 herbal vaccine has been rejected by the World Health Organization (WHO). Tobacco group Philip Morris (21%) to its shareholders.
“It will be settled, we will settle it,” replies Mr. Champagner when asked about the subject. Ownership changes over time. »
Like the Legault administration, the federal minister for innovation, science and industry seemed unwilling to loosen his purse strings to help buy the tobacco company’s stake in Moderna.
Since the WHO rejected the Quebec biopharmaceutical’s vaccine last March, Mitsubishi lobbyists have met with federal officials five times. According to the Register of Lobbyists of Canada, Mr. Champagne has had an exchange at least once.
The Japanese conglomerate is also on the Quebec lobbyist register to solicit support from the Legault government.
Nothing new for STAS
Saguenay firm STAS, weakened by Canada’s sanctions on Russia and turning to Ottawa for help, may have to wait. Questioned on Monday, Mr Champagne replied that he was “aware of” a file described as “complex”. “The fact that they have a sanctioned major customer limits their room for maneuver enormously,” he says. STAS provides high-tech equipment and solutions for the major aluminum companies. Because of sanctions against the Putin regime, the company cannot be paid by its customer Rusal, the Russian aluminum giant. She would like Ottawa to set up a targeted aid program. “I want to help them and I understand that’s unfortunate, but there is also a business decision to do business in Russia. Can I help them find new customers? Certainly. The idea is not to violate the spirit of the sanctions. »
- In Quebec, the Legault government has targeted 9 links in the battery industry, from exploration to recycling, where it wants to be present.
SOURCE: Government of Quebec