Below the vast Canadian wilderness lies an extraordinary mineral deposit considered by experts to be the world’s most significant untapped source of nickel, copper, and cobalt. Valued at approximately $67 billion, these metals are crucial components for the batteries that power electric vehicles. They’re located in an area referred to as the Ring of Fire.
Simon Moores, CEO of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, emphasizes that if Canada acts promptly, it could become the “world’s number-one supplier” of critical minerals.
As both Canada and the United States aim to transition away from gas-powered vehicles by 2035 in favor of an electrified fleet, the value of these resources has been steadily increasing. However, the extraction process poses substantial challenges.
The mineral deposit lies beneath a sprawling ecosystem of peat bogs, which are extraordinarily efficient at capturing and storing carbon. With the ability to sequester about 35 billion tons of carbon, equivalent to the emissions produced by 39 billion cars annually, the Ring of Fire peatlands play a vital role in addressing climate change.
Maria Strack, a specialist in peatland emissions at the University of Waterloo, warns that any activities causing significant disturbances to the site’s moisture and vegetation would significantly compromise its carbon storage capabilities.
Climate advocates are expressing concerns that mining efforts in this area could set back years’ worth of decarbonization efforts. Indigenous communities have also voiced their strong opposition to mining in the Ring of Fire, considering it a project that would irreversibly harm their lands.
Rudy Turtle, the chief of Grassy Narrows First Nation, told Straight Arrow News that his community’s stance against development has been consistently disregarded. Turtle is willing to take physical action in defense of his territory if necessary.
As EV and climate activists clash, Ontario premier Doug Ford is reaffirming his commitment to extract minerals from the Ring of Fire. In the past, the lack of access roads has discouraged attempts to initiate development in the area. But Ford has assured the public that he will build the necessary infrastructure.
A similar conflict has arisen in the United States. Geologists have discovered what they believe to be the largest lithium deposit in the world within the McDermitt Caldera, an ancient supervolcano along the Nevada–Oregon border. Environmental groups and Native American tribal members have raised concerns about mining and development surrounding the site.
Image Source: Iron Cove Global, https://shorturl.at/bEV19