Lithium Canada: The Big Caribou is dead

Publication le 18 mai 2018 sur Les Échos Le Cercle


There is no longer a Canadian strategy

Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was a country that shone through its mining companies. Canada, he is the one in question, had world champions, including Inco, Falconbridge, Noranda. These champions were bought by foreign flags, control was lost; Canada, a land of tolerance and freedom, accepts everyone.

Therefore, it probably makes no sense to question Canadian sovereignty over domestic mining operations. While in uranium mines the maple leaf is still there, in nickel, iron and other minerals, the Canadian flag has given way to the Swiss, Brazilian flags… There are no longer really any rules.

Similarly, for Canadian mines located abroad, the strategy is unreadable.

The future is in electric propulsion and in this field Canadian nickel, which is no longer in Canadian hands, is the best friend and second best friend of lithium.

The world’s largest lithium producer, Chile’s SQM, is 32% owned by Canada’s Potash Corp of Saskatchewan. The latter wishes to merge with his compatriot Agrium to form Nutien, a new world leader in potash. But to do this, the supervisory authorities require the sale of the 32% in SQM. Lithium is a product of the future in all electric mobility and for decades to come. Selling an interest in this area, at any price, is a gift from the seller to the buyer.


Is there a Canadian national power strategy related to natural resources?  Is there a search for a Canadian international influence? Was the future of lithium a way to exercise it? In this case, would it have been wise to suggest that Nutrien sell this asset to a Canadian investor in an attempt to retain control over history?

No, all that no longer exists. More than a year ago we imagined it in the “Battery War” and yesterday it was the Chinese Tianqi who took the bet. By selling to Tianqi in the name of free trade, Canada has strengthened a strategic oligopoly that is being built around matter and therefore will also affect the batteries of tomorrow.

Inco, Falconbridge, Noranda, SQM,… the Great Canadian Caribou is dead.


Linkedin: Didier Julienne

Twitter:  @didierjulienne