Ottawa announces investment in processing of rare earth elements in Saskatchewan

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – Prairies Economic Development Canada Saskatchewan is a mining powerhouse, providing potash for agriculture, uranium for clean fuel, helium for medical and industrial use, and now rare earth elements (REEs), which are used in electric vehicles (EVs), wind turbines, everyday electronics, and industrial uses.

Thanks to leaders like the Saskatchewan Research Council, the province is going beyond mining and exploration, to processing and commercializing value-added products using REEs at the Rare Earth Processing Facility in Saskatoon, the first of its kind in Canada.

In Saskatoon today, the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister responsible for PrairiesCan, announced funding of $6 million to support the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) at their Rare Earth Processing Facility. This investment will help establish and commercialize a process to separate unrecovered rare earth oxides (REO) from radioactive monazite tailings that would have otherwise been disposed of, resulting in additional rare earths sufficient to manufacture up to 65,000 EVs per year. The funding also helps to develop an automated metal smelting process to produce commercial grade rare earth element metals. The investment is being made through PrairiesCan to support economic development and diversification and help build a stronger Prairies economy.

Today’s funding builds on earlier support from PrairiesCan of $2.5 million in interest-free repayable funding for SRC to purchase equipment needed to establish the Rare Earth Processing Facility and a recent investment of almost $5 million from Natural Resources Canada through the Critical Minerals Research, Development and Demonstration program.

The Government of Canada, through the Critical Minerals Strategy, is making crucial investments in critical minerals, and the foundation of a greener and more sustainable economy for the future. These investments are examples of the greater collaboration called for in the new Framework to Build a Green Prairie Economy. The Framework was launched in December 2023 as a long-term commitment to better coordination between federal departments, driving strategic investments across the Prairies, and greater collaboration with other levels of government and Prairie partners. It aims to support economic growth across the Prairies that leaves no one behind and creates good-paying jobs.

“Our government is seizing opportunities to invest in a strong, sustainable future for all Canadians, while supporting our regional strengths like mining, exploration, and mineral processing. Saskatchewan’s leadership in this sector will help establish a domestic rare earth supply chain that adds value to our economy and creates good jobs for Canadians, says The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister responsible for PrairiesCa.

  • The Government of Canada has identified 31 critical minerals, and 23 of those can be found in Saskatchewan.
  • Canada has some of the largest known reserves and resources of rare earth oxides, estimated at over 14 million tonnes in 2021.
  • Mineral exploration expenditures in Saskatchewan hit a 10-year high in 2023, with uranium exploration leading the way, demonstrating the region’s high global attractiveness for investment (Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources Exploration and Development Highlights Report, 2023).