The France signed on Wednesday two bilateral agreements with Canada and Australia to "secure" its supplies of critical metals, essential for the energy transition and the reduction of its CO2 emissions, announced the French Ministry of Energy Transition. These two agreements "aim to develop critical minerals sectors including extraction, processing and recycling projects and to promote cooperation," the ministry said in a statement.
The signing of these two agreements, on the eve of the first summit of the International Energy Agency (IEA) devoted to these resources, "is a further step towards securing our supplies of critical minerals," said Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher, quoted in the statement.
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She recalled the launch in May of a two-billion-euro investment fund to facilitate the France's access to these resources used in particular to power the four giga-battery factories under construction in the country, or to connect future offshore wind farms.
Another critical mineral, while the France has revived the construction of nuclear power plants: uranium. "Canada's uranium exports to Europe have increased significantly and we expect them to continue to increase," Canadian Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson told AFP on Wednesday.
Identical social and environmental standards
While Canada is now the EU's third-largest supplier, behind Kazakhstan and Niger, the African country's exports, which are in the grip of a coup, may "not be as significant in the coming years," said Jonathan Wilkinson, who sees his country continuing to move up the hierarchy of Europe's suppliers. The agreements signed Wednesday are "not commercial agreements that will secure this volume of supply contract on this or that metals," said the French ministry.
"It is a question of developing these sectors of critical minerals in terms of extraction, treatment, recycling, to promote industrial and university cooperation in research and development," between French companies and these two countries that have the same social and environmental standards, added the same source.
This "strategic framework" covers "all minerals and that includes uranium," said the minister's office, while parallel to the IEA summit in Paris, the France is also organizing Thursday with the OECD another international conference, on nuclear.