This news release originally appeared on the Prairies Economic Development Canada website.
Minister Vandal announces investment in processing of rare earth elements in Saskatchewan
Funding of $7.5 million through PrairiesCan will help Saskatchewan’s mining and mineral processing sector
September 20, 2022 – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – Prairies Economic Development Canada
Mining and mineral exploration continue to play an integral role in shaping Saskatchewan’s economy. Whether in potash for agriculture, uranium for clean fuel, helium for medical and industrial use, or numerous other applications, Saskatchewan is a top mining region in Canada and is positioned to be a key player in the new opportunities presented by rare earth elements (REE).
REE are components used in electric vehicles, wind turbines, everyday electronics, as well as industrial applications. Canada has some of the largest known reserves and resources of rare earth oxides, estimated at over 14 million tonnes in 2021.
The Government of Canada is supporting the growth of the critical minerals sector beyond mining to include processing and production of value-added products. This will create new economic opportunities for Canadians, help secure North America’s rare earth supply chain and benefit the environment.
Today, the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan, announced total funding of $7.5 million to support Canada’s first-ever REE processing facilities, located in Saskatchewan.
Vital Metals Canada Ltd. (“Vital Metals”) received $5 million to install equipment and start processing bastnaesite concentrate to produce mixed rare earth carbonate at its new plant in Saskatoon. This investment is an interest-free repayable contribution under the Jobs and Growth Fund, designed to help create jobs and position local economies for long-term growth.
The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) received $2.5 million in interest-free repayable funding under the Western Diversification Program to purchase equipment needed to establish a rare earth processing facility in Saskatoon that produces mixed rare earth carbonite by processing monazite ore.
PrairiesCan’s support to Vital Metals is helping to establish operations and commission its Rare Earth Processing Facility in Saskatoon, making it the only North American producer of mixed rare earth carbonate using ore from its own mine and helping to provide security for the global REE supply chain. Cheetah Resources started production at the Nechalacho Rare Earth Project in the Northwest Territories in June 2021, and is part of Vital Metals Ltd.
SRC’s new Rare Earth Processing Facility will be completed in two phases. It will be comprised of a processing unit to make mixed rare earth carbonate, a separation unit to separate the rare earths and a metals unit that will produce rare earth metals. It will be the first of its kind in North America, helping to pave the way for a REE supply chain in Saskatchewan and creating a model for future commercial resource development and expansion. Funding from PrairiesCan will be used to purchase equipment for their monazite-processing unit, converting raw ore into mixed rare earth carbonate. The facility is located adjacent to the Vital Metals facility, laying the foundation for a rare earth hub in Saskatoon.
Today’s investment aligns with our Government’s priorities, seizing economic opportunities and helping us transition to a low-carbon economy while establishing Canada as a sustainable source of critical minerals.
“Saskatchewan is a leader in mining and our government is continuing to make investments to support the establishment of a domestic rare earth supply chain. Canadian companies are not only suppliers of resources, but also processors and producers of value-added products, which will strengthen our economy, create good jobs for Canadians and help us build a cleaner and brighter future.” – The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of PrairiesCan
“Vital Metals Ltd. welcomes Canada's investment in our Saskatoon Rare Earth Processing Facility. It is a strong signal of Canada's confidence in our capacity to provide responsibly sourced and produced rare earth for our friends and allies. This bold private sector-government collaboration makes Canada's place as the cornerstone of rare earth supply chains for the green economy a reality.” – David Connelly, Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Affairs for Vital Metals and Cheetah Resources
“As the world looks to secure access to critical minerals, Saskatchewan, and Canada, are well-positioned to meet that demand. SRC’s Rare Earth Processing Facility is the first-of-its-kind in Canada and North America to include rare earth processing, separation and metals stages. These projects showcase how Saskatchewan is emerging as a leader in sustainable resource development, powered by technological innovation.” – The Honourable Jeremy Harrison, Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Research Council
The Jobs and Growth Fund, delivered by Canada’s regional development agencies (RDAs), provides $700 million nationally over three years, which includes up to $70 million dedicated to businesses created after January 2020 that meet eligibility criteria.
In the West, PrairiesCan and PacifiCan are investing $217 million to help job creators and the organizations that support them to future-proof their businesses, build resiliency and prepare for growth by transitioning to a green economy, fostering an inclusive recovery, enhancing competitiveness and creating jobs in every corner of the country.