With Communist China Threatening Rare-Earth Export Restrictions, Canada Should Utilize Our Own Immense Potential Rare Earth Resources

Canada has the potential to be a large supplier of the highly-valuable rare-earth metals, and help reduce the world’s reliance on the Communist state.

Communist China controls the vast majority of the rare earth metals market.

And now, with the trade war between the US and China heating up, there is a growing threat that China will impose export restrictions on the highly-valuable metals.

On Twitter, Hu Xijin – the head of the Communist Party-run Global Times – said “Based on what I know, China is seriously considering restricting rare earth exports to the U.S. China may also take other countermeasures in the future.” 

While China accounted for about 80% of US rare-earth imports, such a move by China could backfire in the long-term.

There are ample supplies of rare earth elements in the United States, Australia, and other friendly nations. Production would be ramped-up, reducing China’s control over the market and cutting their leverage.

This is also an opportunity for Canada.

So far, Canada has not made much of our rare-earth resources, but as noted in a past article by Tina Kremmidas – Chief Economist for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce – our rare-earth resources are abundant:

“Canada has significant quantities of rare earths locked in black shale deposits (the Alberta Black Shale Project) that were previously not recoverable unless large amounts of cyanide and arsenic are used to liquefy the ores — a process that is considered dangerous and illegal in many parts of the world. Now, a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly new technology that uses water, air and microbes (a technique known as bioheap leaching) can be used to release the rare earth from the black shale deposits. The new technology has a limited track record — only one mine (operated by Finland’s Talvivaara Mining Company Plc.) is producing metals with bioheap leaching technology. Toronto-based DNI Metals, a junior mining company, has said it needs $1 billion to get the project going.

Several other Canadian mines show great potential.

Avalon Rare Metals Inc.’s Nechalacho Rare Earth Element Project located at Thor Lake in the Mackenzie Mining District of the Northwest Territories, has exceptional wealth of heavy rare earth elements. Avalon estimates a 2015 possible start date for full capacity production.

Great Western Minerals Group Ltd.’s Hoidas Lake Project (located in northern Saskatchewan) has one of the highest proportions of neodymium present in any known rare earth deposit. The company is working on designing an optimal concentration/leaching process with the goal of starting production in 2015-16.

In July 2011, Midland Exploration Inc. started exploration with state-backed Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. on its Québec rare earth project, Ytterby.

Pele Mountain Resources is focused on the sustainable development of its Eco Ridge Mine Uranium and Rare Earth Elements Project, located in Elliot Lake, Ontario.

Matamec Explorations Inc. is exploring its Zeus property in the Temiscamingue region of Québec. Toyota Tsusho Corp. has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Matamec to fast-track development of the Kipawa deposit in order to secure a supply of heavy rare earths used in the production of Toyota’s hybrid and electric vehicles.

Quest is currently advancing several rare earth projects in the Strange Lake and Misery Lake areas of northeastern Québec.

Cache Exploration Inc. is exploring the Welsford rare earth properties in New Brunswick, and the Cross Hills and Louil Hills rare earth properties in Newfoundland.

Kirrin Resources Inc. operates rare earth exploration projects in Newfoundland & Labrador and Québec.

Rare earth potential has been confirmed on Forum Uranium Corp.’s North Thelon Project in Nunavut.

Not only does Canada have the third-largest crude oil reserves in the world, it has some of the world’s largest rare earth deposits and expertise in processing them. Politically stable, Canada has a reputation for technical and contractual reliability and high environmental standards. This may mean that Canada will increasingly have political leverage and influence.”

As you can see, the potential is tremendous.

And while government intervention is generally not a good thing, this is a case where a significant government investment could kick-start a massive industry that is important not only economically, but from a national-defence perspective.

Rare earths are a key part of many advanced defence systems, and making use of our own supply would make us less vulnerable.

The rising tensions between China and much of the Western World is a great opportunity for Canada to develop a key strategic resource, create jobs, and boost our economy now, and for the long-term.

Spencer Fernando

Photo – YouTube