Canada invests CD4.99 mn to propel rare earth processing, fueling electric vehicle value chain advancement: S&P GCI

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In a move aimed at bolstering Canada’s presence in the global electric vehicle (EV) market, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced an investment of 4.99 million Canadian dollars in funding to the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) through Canada’s Critical Minerals Research, Development, and Demonstration (CMRDD) programme. According to S&P Global Commodity Insights (GCI), this investment, disclosed on February 15, signifies a strategic push to advance rare earth processing capabilities within the country and contribute to the development of a thriving domestic electric vehicle value chain.

The funding provided by NRCan will enable SRC to spearhead the development of a process to separate rare earth elements, thereby bolstering the supply of crucial metals essential for the burgeoning electric vehicle sector. Mike Crabtree, President, and CEO of SRC, emphasised the pivotal role of this funding in elevating Canada’s position in the rare earth supply chain. He highlighted the significance of separating rare earth oxides such as dysprosium (Dy) and terbium (Tb) to facilitate the manufacturing of high-grade permanent magnets vital for modern technology applications.

Crabtree said, “This funding allows SRC to complete an important step in the rare earth supply chain, adding the ability to demonstrate separation for dysprosium [Dy] and terbium [Tb] oxides at our Rare Earth Processing Facility. Separating these rare earth oxides is instrumental in the manufacturing of high-grade permanent magnets, which are used in global modern technology.” SRC’s ongoing rare earth processing endeavours have focused on separating neodymium and praseodymium, with the latest funding injection poised to expand its capabilities to include dysprosium and terbium oxides.

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The enhanced processing capacity is projected to yield approximately 20 metric tons per year of dysprosium oxide and 5 metric tons per year of terbium oxide. These outputs are sufficient to produce permanent magnets required for the construction of electric motors powering nearly half a million EVs annually. Notably, SRC’s existing rare earth processing facility boasts a net-zero liquid discharge process, exemplifying its commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. The forthcoming project milestones are poised to position Canada as a trailblazer in rare earth element processing, marking a significant milestone in the nation’s journey towards achieving commercial-scale production.

Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, underscored the pivotal role of these critical minerals in driving the transition towards a low-carbon economy. He emphasized the imperative of building resilient and secure supply chains within Canada to meet the surging demand for resources essential for global sustainability initiatives. Wilkinson said, “Demand for these resources is going to grow exponentially as we build up a low-carbon economy. That is why we are taking action to build resilient and secure supply chains that provide the materials we, and nations around the world, need, right here in Canada.”

The initiative underscores Canada’s commitment to fostering innovation, sustainability, and economic growth within the critical minerals sector. With the completion of this project, Canada is poised to emerge as a frontrunner in rare earth processing, contributing significantly to the nation’s economic prosperity and technological advancement on the global stage.