Canada will commission a rare earth processing plant in 2022 with an investment of US $ 24 million.
The plant will be built by the province of Saskatchewan and will serve the industries of new automobiles, wind turbines, smartphones, military weapons and laptops.
In general, rare earths are used in small amounts for a variety of economically significant and national defense applications.
The facility will be owned and operated by the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC). It will be the first of its kind in Canada and will begin to establish a rare earth elements (REE) supply chain in Saskatchewan, forming an industrial model for future commercial expansion of REE resources in the province.
Rare earths consist of 17 elements (metals) that have unique characteristics, such as magnetism, luminescence, and resistance. They have a wide range of uses.
Contrary to the name, rare earths are not “rare”. Rather, they are relatively abundant in the earth’s crust, but they are widely dispersed and generally found mixed in other deposits. This makes it difficult to find them in a high enough concentration to be economically extracted and separated.
Global demand for REE will increase significantly in the next decade as demand for electric vehicles, renewable energy generation, and all forms of electronics increases.
“The new Saskatchewan rare earth processing facility will be a catalyst to stimulate the resource sector in Saskatchewan and across Canada, providing the early stage supply chain needed to generate cash flow, investment and industrial growth for the sector.” said Prime Minister Scott Moe.
“It will also help ensure Saskatchewan’s competitiveness as we focus on our economic recovery and the growth of our province over the next decade,” he added
Saskatchewan has a globally recognized mining industry, workforce and culture, and local businesses are already beginning to explore REE deposits both in Saskatchewan and the surrounding provinces and territories, said SRC Minister Responsible Jeremy Harrison.
“This facility will allow the REE industry to grow and create both immediate and long-term jobs,” he said.
The conversion of REE ore into individual REE products is done in two main stages. The first is the mixed REE carbonate mineral concentration. The second is the more complex separation step that converts mixed REE carbonate to pure grade commercial REE. The facility will address both stages of REE processing.
The facility is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2022 and construction will begin this fall.
SRC is the second largest research and technology organization in Canada. With more than 290 employees, C $ 91 million in annual revenue, and nearly 75 years of experience, SRC provides services and products to its 1,500 customers in 27 countries around the world.