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Rare Earth Elements - Background Information

There is a growing interest in mining rare earth elements in Canada and internationally. The interest is due to growing demand for the 17 minerals included in the rare earth family. Uses include high tech communications, hybrid/electric cars, wind turbines and military hardware. China has also had a corner on the supply of the minerals and so there is interest in diversifying the supply chain. When China pulled back on production in 2011 it caused a sharp spike in the price and a flurry of exploration and speculation. 

Rare earths come with some significant environmental challenges including the fact that they are found with elevated concentrations of thorium and uranium and their processing typically requires harsh toxic chemicals like sulphuric acid. Processing of the ore makes the radioactive elements more mobile in the environment.

This page provides a number of key background references and links to advanced stage Canadian rare earth projects.

Documents

Investigating Rare Earth Element Mine Development in EPA Region 8 and Potential Environmental Impacts. US EPA. 2011

Rare Earth Elements: A Review of Production, Processing, Recycling, and Associated Environmental Issues. EPA Office of Research and Development. 2012 (PDF 2.8 MB)

Review of the Rare Earth Elements and Lithium Mining Sectors. Chem Info Services for Environment Canada. 2012 (PDF 1.3 MB)

Study on Rare Earths and Their Recycling, Final Report for The Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament. Öko-Institut. 2011. (PDF 1.1 MB)

Projects

Avalon's Nechalacho (Thor Lake) Project (Dene Territory / Great Slave Lake Northwest Territories)

Matamec's Kipawa Project (Algonquin Territory / Temiscaming Quebec)

Pele Mountain's Eco Ridge Project (Ojibway Territory / Elliot Lake Ontario)

Quest's Strange Lake and Misery Lake Projects (Inuit and Innu Territory / nothern Labrdor-Quebec border)