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Canada and Québec's critical mineral strategy and intellectual property

Canada and provinces like Quebec are significantly investing in their critical mineral strategies, which can be found here (Canada) and here (Québec). To achieve some of the stated objectives, novel technologies will not only need to be invented and commercialized, but also secured by one or more forms of intellectual property as well as contractual means so as to protect the business's competitive advantage. The same rationale should apply to sensitive geological and geoscientific data, including maps and mining data, which may be further collected by government agencies, such as Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN) and Statistics Canada who release numerous reports and statistical tables. 


To align with the federal and provincial critical mineral strategies, businesses in the mining sector will need to establish robust innovation and IP roadmaps and strategies that: 


  • addresses federal and provincial objectives, including that of innovation, which is well underlined in the Canadian critical mineral strategy as follows: 


To unlock these possibilities, we need to expand geoscience and exploration activities to find the deposits of the future, as locating critical minerals in Canada’s vast landmass is a complex endeavour. It requires advanced geoscience capabilities, including geological mapping, geophysical surveying, and scientific assessments and data. The next step is to be able to extract and process critical minerals sustainably. Canada will need to continue developing innovative technologies (e.g., new conversion processes) and industrial practices that optimize efficiency, cost competitiveness, and environmental stewardship.” 


  • achieves the proper amount of disclosure required to obtain potential intellectual property rights, such without giving too much information, which can remain under the auspices of either: (i) confidential information, or (ii) a trade secret, if protected with technical safeguards;


  • addresses: (1) ESG objectives, (2) sustainable development goals (SDGs), such as (i) nutrition and agriculture (SDG 2), (ii) good health and wellbeing (SDG 3), (iii) clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), (iv) affordable and clean energy (SDG 7), (v) industry and innovation (SDG 9), and (vi) sustainable communities (SDG 11), as identified in the International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD)’s brief #26, as well as (3) documentation issues (Nature, 2024);


  • enable businesses in the mining sector to: (i) identify and (ii) access funds, grants and/or incentives to conduct innovation so as to achieve the foregoing objectives (including other green initiatives and net-zero objectives), as well as (iii) identify licensing and M&A opportunities. In other words, identify and acquire IP developed by third-parties, which are published on IP registers, including WIPO GREEN, amongst others;

  • considers and aligns with national security interests (Mining, 2020, CSIS, CCC); and

  • considers use of the Canadian Intellectual Property’s Office (CIPOs) advanced examination for green technologies, which allows for expedited examination of patent applications. Analogous programs exist in other select jurisdictions.


Mining tech trends


According to PatSnap, most patent applications are filed in the United States (1st), China (2nd) and Japan (3rd). Commonwealth countries, Great Britain, Australia and Canada fall in 4th, 5th and 9th position. 

The major technology areas covered by these applications, include digital computing systems (class G06F17) amongst others shown the following diagram:



In a recent book titled IP Management for Startups co-chapter contributors Wilkinson and Walker speak to the role of intellectual property in mining technology, and more specifically mining equipment technology services (METS). Like for many other businesses, emphasis must be placed on IP awareness, training, non-disclosure agreements, the critical nature of a company strategy composed of robust technology and IP strategies, the importance of utilizing all relevant types of IP protection, complexities added through collaboration, taking a proactive approach, and finally, the absolute requirement to remain focused on the commercialization goals while being very conscious of IP. 


Emerging technologies in Canada… connect at Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC)


In Canada, a company that has received mediatic attention (Calgary Herald) is GeologicAI, which has received significant funding from Bill Gates’ climate focused venture firm - Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) - as well as Export Development Canada to accelerate global expansion of its rock analytics platform. 


Montréal based Elemission has also developed a LIBS scanning system with hyperspectral imaging. It allows for a full microanalysis of the drill core, bringing a “complete set of information from the quantitative automated mineralogy to multi-elemental assays (keeping spatial information like texture and deportation), physical properties such as density, hardness, rock quality designation and more”. 


Attending PDAC? And want to connect? Contact us


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