|3/26/2015 by mdc|
|Jason Fekete reports that Canada is quietly staking its claim to being a global leader in a growing multibillion-dollar industry largely unknown to most Canadians but deemed by the government as critical to the economy of Canada.|
Canadian extractive companies, in collaboration with the federal government and other groups, have launched more than 200 exploration projects targeting what are called rare earth elements. These potentially lucrative rare earths which include the 15 lanthanide metals on the periodic table plus scandium and yttrium are increasingly sought after by several major industries for manufacturing their products. The rare earth elements are split into light or heavy depending on their atomic number. Rare earths, especially the heavy ones, are considered to be critical for manufacturing new technology, clean energy, aerospace, automotive, defense and many other industrial products because of their luminous, magnetic, catalytic and other characteristics. For example, the materials have become imperative for wind turbines, hybrid and electric cars, cellphones, laptops, LCD screens, medical imaging equipment, rechargeable batteries and many other products.
Canadian deposits often contain much higher proportions of the valuable heavy rare earths, meaning Canada is poised to capitalize on extracting rare earth elements, say briefing notes prepared for Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver as part of the last cabinet shuffle.
At least one of the advanced projects, from Avalon Rare Metals, is expected to begin production in 2017, with four other projects potentially starting production between 2017 and 2019, explain the briefing notes. The Avalon flagship mine is in the Northwest Territories, while other companies like Quest Rare Minerals and Matamec Explorations are proceeding with projects in Quebec.