(Montreal) The federal government is trying to promote the aluminum industry produced in Quebec with Mercedes-Benz, which has set itself the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2039.
Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne met with the automaker’s management in Germany on Monday, where he touted the steel industry’s small footprint and aluminum.
“If we want to sell a vehicle with a certificate that guarantees zero carbon content by 2039, what I tell them is that Canada must be part of the solution,” he said. he said during a press conference call to discuss his trade mission.
“If you look at the essential components of a vehicle, whether it’s batteries, steel, aluminum, I’m sure I tell them: ‘we have all that here’. »
Mr. Champagne had made a first meeting with the management of Mercedes-Benz in August. “There, we got to work. I think you’re going to see some interesting things to come in the next few months. »
The Quebec aluminum industry has the particularity of being less polluting than elsewhere, but it remains a major emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the province.
In 2019, aluminum production was the industrial process that emitted the most greenhouse gases in the province at 4.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, according to the most recent Quebec Inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse.
Thanks to hydroelectricity, the industry still has a lower carbon footprint than international competitors. In Quebec, the production of one tonne of aluminum emits the equivalent of two tonnes of GHGs. In Europe, this ratio is 16 tons while it is 30 tons in China.
Efforts are underway in Quebec to produce carbon-free aluminum. The ELYSIS industrial research and development center, a joint venture jointly owned by Alcoa and Rio Tinto, hopes to have its technology available for commercialization in 2024.
Last March, Apple announced the conclusion of an agreement to use aluminum from ELYSIS in the manufacture of the iPhone SE.
The battery sector
The Minister is about to conclude a trade mission to Belgium and Germany, which runs from November 30 to December 6. Earlier this week, he met with Volkswagen management who expressed interest in Canada for their plans for North America’s first battery plant.
This announcement demonstrates Canada’s good position in the battery sector, believes Minister Champagne. He quoted a text from the financial news agency Bloomberg, which places Canada in second place, behind China, but ahead of the United States, in the industry. “Canada has become the logical choice for major manufacturers when it comes to electric mobility,” he says.
Asked about American competition, Mr. Champagne put into perspective the threat represented by the Biden government’s offensive, which is deploying billions of dollars to support the industry, but with protectionist requirements to promote the development of an American industry.
Mr. Champagne replied that the American assistance was relatively comparable to that offered by Canada. He added that factors other than subsidies come into play when a company chooses a location for a project.
“As Canadians, you can never win on subsidies. For us, where we win, it’s really more with the talents and critical minerals, renewable energy and the strength of the ecosystems we have at home. »