By Trevor Busch
With rare-earth elements becoming increasingly valuable for a number of developing industries, Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter believes Alberta is poised to cash in on a boom.
Compounds containing rare-earths have diverse applications in electrical and electronic components, lasers, glass, magnetic materials, and industrial processes.
“Number one, as the world kind of moves towards greener energy, they’re going to need to have those rare-earth minerals and materials. And Alberta has a lot of rare-earth material,” said Hunter. “I don’t think people realize that. But a few years ago, Minister Savage commissioned work to be done in terms of mapping out where these rare-earth minerals were. And so we have a lot of rare minerals in Alberta that we’ll be able to get mined.”
Though rare-earth elements are considered relatively plentiful in the Earth’s crust, in practice they are spread thinly across trace impurities, so to obtain rare-earths at usable purity requires processing enormous amounts of raw ore at great expense, thus the name “rare” earths.
“So we have a minerals programme, but I think you’re going to see big growth as well. And they’re all over the province, it’s not specific to one area. So that’s kind of exciting. I was really excited to see that in the budget.”