Saskatchewan Building Rare Earth Processing Plant

By Mallorie Rast

This week Saskatchewan announced that Canada’s first Rare Earth Element (REE) supply chain facility will be built in north Saskatoon. A definite thrust in the mining industry, this plant is being hailed as a key element in the province’s 2030 growth plan and will push competition with China.

This relatively small, but economically powerful, plant will extract REE products from raw REE ore. The government is investing $31M to the project and the plant will be owned and operated by Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC).

What exactly are REE’s? They are a group of 15 different minerals found in ore in the earth’s crust. They are key components in many electronic devices such as cell phones, batteries, and electric vehicles. REEs have a myriad of uses in industrial applications as well.

Up until now, China has held a 70% monopoly on the extraction and use of REEs, and Saskatchewan’s new plant will be the first to tap into Canada’s rare earth oxides that are estimated at over 15 million tonnes.

Premier Scott Moe said in a recent press release that he expects the plant to increase the province’s industrial competitiveness and help Saskatchewan gain momentum in economic recovery. “Saskatchewan’s new 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 of the sector.”

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