Ever heard of yttrium? The jauntily spelled substance is one of a group called rare earth elements (REEs). REEs are used in many modern technologies, from electric vehicle batteries to smart phones and renewable power generation. As high-tech development continues around the world, demand for REEs is expected to grow considerably. That’s good news for Saskatchewan, with high-grade deposits of REEs recently found in the province, as well as the Saskatoon Region, where a new rare earth element processing facility will open in 2022.
The good news for resources continues in Saskatchewan’s burgeoning helium industry. There are significant reserves in the province, and Saskatchewan is currently constructing what will be Canada’s largest helium purification facility. Helium is used in a variety of applications, such as medical imaging, rockets and super conductors. Global demand for the gas is increasing, especially after shortages in recent years raised prices significantly.
Saskatoon and Saskatchewan have a long history of excellence in mining innovation and technology to build upon as local next-generation resource industries like REEs and helium expand. Businesses and technologies that support foundational industries like potash and uranium have contributed greatly to prosperity in the area. Likewise, opportunities abound for investment and businesses supporting the supply chain for critical minerals like REEs and helium in Saskatchewan. With the market for REEs primarily controlled by China, and much of today’s helium currently produced in the Middle East, Saskatchewan is well located to provide these resources to areas seeking a stable supplier with strong diplomatic ties.
“In addition to looking for secure supply chains for critical minerals and metals used in food security (potash), clean tech (uranium and rare earth elements) or battery metals (nickel, cobalt and lithium), manufacturers are also looking for metals that are produced in the most socially, economically and environmentally sustainable manner because this is what their clients are looking for,” said Pamela Schwann, Saskatchewan Mining Association President. “Mineral production from Saskatchewan meets those expectations. The mineral diversity in Saskatchewan, combined with specialized labs at SRC and other research institutes, makes Saskatchewan and Saskatoon, in particular, well-positioned to take a leading and value-added role in the global supply chain for critical minerals.”
Looking to invest in Saskatoon’s next-generation resources?
The critical mineral supply chain will expand rapidly as construction on Saskatchewan’s REE and helium facilities reaches completion. If you’re interested in taking part in the many business opportunities associated with REEs and helium in the Saskatoon Region, contact SREDA’s Business Growth team. We can help you find your place in the local market.