VANCOUVER — Seven months ago the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources began a study on Canada’s rare earth elements (REE) potential, which involved consultation with industry participants on the role of the federal government in the sector’s development. Today [June 25] the committee released a preliminary report that outlines the state of global markets, and explores certain challenges associated with realizing a “strategic opportunity” inherent in Canada’s REE endowment.
According to the report, global production of REE currently totals 130,000 tonnes per year, which gives the industry revenues of only US$4 billion annually. Though REE production is small in comparison to other metals, the committee noted that REEs support a manufacturing sector worth between US$2 trillion and US$4.8 trillion.
Director general of the industry and analyst for the Department of Natural Resources, Christiane Villemure, commented that: “Over the last 10 to 15 years, the world consumption of REEs has increased at 8% to 12% per annum, a trend that experts agree will continue, and may increase.”
In addition supply challenges are reportedly anticipated due to absence of efficient recycling programs, with industrial demand for certain REEs projected to shoot up by as much as 2,600% by 2025 according to studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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