Mining Weekly - Canadian company reports growth in magnesium, lithium and rare earths (2023)

Canada-based integrated engineering, managing and planning comp- any TRU Group, which serves the mining and manufacturing industries, reports that the steady global economic recovery will provide some sustenance for the production and consumption of niche metals such as magnesium, lithium and rare earths.

“However, growth for these metals, as well as for the main structural metals, such as steel and aluminum, is mitigated by the sluggish performance of the Chinese economy and the economic uncertainty and auste- rity in Europe,” says TRU Group VP John Roumeliotis.

Further, the company highlights that new oil and gas mining technology, notably fracking, will result in some major structural changes in the minerals and metals processing, smelting and refining industry.

“We believe that the lower natural gas prices in the US are here to stay and are a potential game-changer for American metal processing, particularly in processes where heat is the main consumable. Natural gas prices in the US are now competitive with those in Qatar,” notes Roumeliotis.

Meanwhile, TRU Group says, for mining projects, the primary challenges are to deve-lop the best viable mineral and chemical process, at the app- ropriate scale, within realistic financial projections.

(Video) Tech Companies Depend on China for Rare Earths. Can That Change? | WSJ

“The hype surrounding lithium and rare earths has had analysts and project developers pro- moting scenarios where tight supply, shortages and high price escalations for these metals would be the new norm,” says Roumeliotis, adding that, for several of these prospects, profitability was based on inflated price expectations for their products.

A summary report of a market study conducted by the company in 2007 entitled ‘Shocking Future Battering the Lithium Industry Through 2020’ was presented at the Industrial Minerals Lithium Supply & Markets conference in 2011, in Toronto, Canada. It indicated that existing lithium producers had sufficient expansion capacity and that there was some space in the market to accommodate a few new lithium pro- ducers, which would mitigate against potential shortages and escalating prices.

TRU’s price projections for lithium carbonate made in 2007 ($4 500 about 20%) are reflected in the current export prices FOB Chile; in the last two year per- iod, prices were below $4 500/t and still remain within 10% of that price.

“The escalation and peak in rare earths prices in 2011 have largely been erased, with the realisation that supply constraints and price escalations would be eased when new resources were developed and new production came on line,” he says, adding that export prices FOB China for various rare earths oxides are indicative of this price trend.

The company highlights that each mining sector has its own challenges.
“In terms of lithium extraction and downstream production of primary derivatives, such as lithium carbonate and lithium chloride, brine-based projects are more economical than hard-rock mines,” says Roumeliotis.

TRU states that the lithium chemicals industry is domi- nated by the three South America-based major pro- ducers – Chilean producers SQM and Sociedad Chilena de Litio (Chemetall), both at Salar de Atacama, and Argentinean producer Minera Altiplano, at Salar de Hombre Muerto – which mine the richest and largest known brine deposits.

(Video) Rare earths crunch? Why we need them and who has them | Business Beyond

Meanwhile, leading glo-bal lithium minerals pro- ducer Talison Lithium, which mines Greenbushes’ deposit in Western Australia and also has exploratory projects in Chile, produces a chemical grade spodumene concentrate that is sold to China for conversion into lithium carbonate.

Talison’s Greenbushes deposit in the south-west region of Western Australia is the world’s largest hard-rock lithium mine, with the highest grading lithium ore, the currently mined sectors average 3.2% lithium oxide, while the larger resources base avera-ges 2.4% lithium oxide.

This is over two times the ore grade of historic hard-rock lithium projects in the US, which graded 1.5% lithium oxide, and three times the ore grade of more recent mining operations, namely Galaxy Resources’ Mt Cattlin deposit, in Australia, which was mined at 1.1% lithium oxide from 2010 to 2012 before its closure, and Canada Lithium’s Quebec Lithium project, at La Corne, Quebec, that is currently mined at 0.98% lithium oxide.

“All new projects must be competitive for the existing producers and they must also compete for market share that has been carved out by these majors,” says Roumeliotis, emphasising that new brine-based projects are likely to do better than new hard-rock projects with respect to production costs.

“However, these projects would need to pass a few major hurdles, including defining their economic reserve and resource base, extracting sufficient brine to reach production targets. A process to operate within the climatic constraints of the mine location would also have to be devised, since all brine-based projects rely on solar evaporation, to some extent, to produce an enriched lithium brine for conversion into lithium carbonate,” he adds.

The new hard rock mines with standard ore grades of 1% to 1.5% lithium oxide, will be challenged by higher mining costs and more energy-intensive processes to convert spodumene concentrate into downstream primary lithium products, with costs generally twice as much as those of brine-based lithium carbonate production. Subsequently, these projects will have smaller operating margins to buffer against any drop in the lithium prices.

(Video) Mining companies listed in Canada have raised over $3B this year

Meanwhile, TRU says that China’s dominance in magnesium and rare earths can be attributed to producers having historic- ally benefited from several distinct economic advantages; low-cost labour, an artificially devalued Chinese currency and less stringent environmental laws. Additionally, for magnesium production the facilities are located near iron and steelmaking facilities, where excess coal gas fuel is transferred at low to negligible cost.

“Some of these advantages, such as neg- ligible- or low-costing coal gas fuel transfers from nearby steel plants, and the artificial devaluation of the Chinese yuan, can be considered as subsidies, which have led to antidumping duties for Chinese magnesium, particularly in the US,” says Roumeliotis, adding that market intervention in rare earths by the Chinese government has destabilised prices and tended to encourage foreign competition.

Meanwhile, the company notes that diversity and security of supply are concerns for the producers of magnesium and rare earths, owing to the overwhelming concentration of the extraction and production base of these metals in China.
“China altered the paradigm for dominating global magnesium production by adopting the thermic Pidgeon Process over any established electrolytic routes,” he says.

Roumeliotis explains that the robust Pidgeon Process uses simple, inexpensive retort technology that is easy to operate, but labour and energy intensive. The tradi- tional electrolytic routes, although more auto- mated and energy efficient than any thermic processes, are more complex, use sophisti- cated technology and are more capital intensive and difficult to operate, with comparatively much less flexibility.

“From a perspective of industrial effi- ciency, the decision taken by China to adopt the labour intensive Pidgeon Process to expand its magnesium industry may have appeared counterintuitive, however, China possesses large coal and dolomite magnesium resources and a large pool of low-cost labour which the country can exploit,” notes TRU.

“In recent years, there has been a drop in natural gas energy prices, which would allow competitive Pidgeon Plants to operate outside China. The Middle East and the US where TRU is currently involved are potential sites for these types of plants, which present a lower financial risk than electro-lytic plants,” says Roumeliotis.

(Video) The Future Most Powerful Countries: Who Holds all the Rare Earth Metals? - TLDR News

In the case of rare earths, developing known resources where there is good energy and transport infrastructure could also allow for competitive production outside China.

The company notes that projects that can capitalise on the production of critical, or strategic, rare-earth metals, used in the production of magnets, will have a competitive advantage, but must enter the market at a reasonable production rate that would not flood the market, which could negatively affect prices and operating margins.

“Tailings from other mining activities, and deactivated mines and new resources in North America and Africa would be of primary interest for development,” says Roumeliotis.

“The best known lithium resources in the world are already in production or under development. New areas of potential production could be brine waters located in oilfields or at other chemical installations where other elements are currently extracted from brines,” says Roumeliotis, adding that speciality chemical company Albemarle, in South Arkansas, has announced such an initiative and patented molecular sieve technology to extract lithium from brine that is currently used to produce bromine.

Meanwhile, TRU is focusing on evaluating new technologies for extracting lithium from more challenging impurity-laden resour-ces; on coal gasification to produce cleaner energy, compared with coal combustion; and on assessing renewed magnesium extraction and production, in North America. It is also establishing new magnesium production capability in the Middle East.

“We like to work for clients that have innovative ideas or face a particularly challenging technical issue. In the resource or extractive industries, TRU’s primary focus in the last several years has been on lithium, magne-sium and rare earths, as well as clean coal gasification,” says Roumeliotis.

(Video) Where is the largest deposit of lithium? Will we run out of lithium?

The company assists the project deve- lopers, such as mining or chemical com- panies, and the larger investors.

TRU Group prepares feasibility studies for project developer clients, investigates the due diligence of projects for investor clients, and performs market assessments or broad strategic studies for others.

Lithium and rare earths have been strategic elements in which certain companies wanted to invest to secure supply sources for their manufacturing base, or to exploit, owing to favourable market conditions.


What is Canada's place in the new Great Game over the control of critical minerals and rare earths? ›

The country already produces 60 minerals and metals that are in high global demand, and it is also home to an estimated 14 million tonnes of rare-earth oxides. Although Canada has some of the largest known rare-earths reserves in the world, it is not yet a major producer.

Does Canada have rare earth minerals? ›

Many countries, including Canada, have rare earths resources but producing REEs requires complex separation and refining processes.

Does Canada produce rare earth metals? ›

Canada has some of the largest known reserves and resources of rare earth oxides, estimated at over 14 million tonnes in 2021. The Government of Canada is supporting the growth of the critical minerals sector beyond mining to include processing and production of value-added products.

Is uranium a critical mineral in Canada? ›

Canada already produces over 60 minerals and metals, is a leading global producer of many critical minerals, including nickel, potash, aluminum, and uranium, and has the potential to supply more to both domestic and international markets.

What are Canada's 3 most important natural resources? ›

In Canada, natural resources such as oil, potash, uranium and wood are extracted to some of the highest environmental and labour standards in the world.

Does Canada have a lot of lithium? ›

Canada does not currently produce lithium but has large hard rock spodumene deposits and brine-based lithium resources. Australia is the world's largest lithium producer, accounting for nearly half of global production in 2020.

Who is the biggest supplier of rare earth metals? ›

China is the world's largest producer of rare earth metals, dominating 80% of global supply for the materials that are essential to much of today's high-end tech.

Is rare earth a good investment? ›

Recent research suggests the rare earth metals market size can reach $15.5 billion by 2030, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.1%. According to U.S. Geological Survey, China remains the world's largest rare earth elements producer and exporter, accounting for almost 60% of the global output.

Which country is the largest rare earth metal producer? ›

Since China is the world's largest producer of the materials by far, the fraught relationship between the countries is directing attention to global supply chain disruption in the rare earths industry. With that in mind, it's worth being aware of rare earth metal production numbers.

Which country controls the most rare earth minerals? ›

Rare earth elements: China dominates

China has considerable control over both the reserves and the production of key REEs (e.g., neodymium and dysprosium) as it does over the rest of the supply chain.

What country controls rare earth? ›

However, China accounts for over 95 percent of the world's production of rare earths. Therefore, having control of these elements puts China at a powerful position. It is estimated the world has 99 million tonnes of rare earth reserve deposits.

Which country supplies 90% of the rare earth metals for electronics? ›

China tops the list for mine production and reserves of rare earth elements, with 44 million tons in reserves and 140,000 tons of annual mine production.

Who is the largest uranium producer in Canada? ›

The key producers in Canada are Cameco Corporation and Orano Canada Inc., which rank among the world's leading uranium suppliers.

What is the most mined item in Canada? ›

Canada's top five mineral products by value for 2021 were gold, coal, iron ore concentrates, potash, and copper.

Which province has the most lithium? ›

Granitic pegmatite contains the largest known resources of lithium in Manitoba. The most prolific region is the Winnipeg River–Cat Lake pegmatite field, which hosts the world-class Tanco lithium-cesium-tantalum deposit, along with numerous other pegmatites that collectively define this large field.

Which Canadian province has the most natural resources? ›

The largest producing oil and gas fields are in Alberta, but potential reserves lie both in the Arctic and off the east coast. There are also large deposits of uranium and of oil and coal mixed in sands.

What are the two most important resources in Canada? ›

Canadians are very engaged on the issue of fresh water. Not only do they regard it as by far our most important natural resource, a somewhat surprising finding when the importance of oil and gas to our economy is considered.

What is Canada's most important export? ›

Exports The top exports of Canada are Crude Petroleum ($47.2B), Cars ($31.8B), Gold ($14.4B), Motor vehicles; parts and accessories (8701 to 8705) ($9.06B), and Sawn Wood ($7.69B), exporting mostly to United States ($264B), China ($19.3B), United Kingdom ($13.2B), Japan ($9.44B), and Mexico ($5.26B).

What is the best lithium stock to buy in Canada? ›

Sigma Lithium

Undoubtedly, one of the best lithium stocks to buy in Canada comes from Sigma Lithium. The company is currently developing the largest hard rock lithium deposits in the Americas and participates in the global supply chain of electric vehicles by producing 220,000 tonnes of lithium for batteries.

What country has the best lithium? ›

With 8 million tons, Chile has the world's largest known lithium reserves. This puts the South American country ahead of Australia (2.7 million tons), Argentina (2 million tons) and China (1 million tons). Within Europe, Portugal has smaller quantities of the valuable raw material.

What country sells the most lithium? ›

List of countries by lithium production
5 more rows

What is the best rare earth company to invest in? ›

MP Materials Corp. Stellar Q2 2022 earnings, owns the only rare earth mine and processing facility in the U.S.
Note: all stock prices are as of market close on August 15, 2022.
  1. Tronox Holdings plc (TROX) ...
  2. Materion Corporation (MTRN) ...
  3. Freeport McMoRan Inc. ...
  4. BHP Group (BHP) ...
  5. MP Materials (MP)

What is the most useful rare earth metal? ›

One of them is neodymium, because it's the most important REE used in permanent magnets. The others are heavy rare earth elements (HREEs), including europium, terbium, dysprosium and yttrium. The latter isn't really an REE, but it's associated with them.

What are 8 common products that use rare earth metals? ›

"Rare-earth elements (REEs) are used as components in high technology devices, including smart phones, digital cameras, computer hard disks, fluorescent and light-emitting-diode (LED) lights, flat screen televisions, computer monitors, and electronic displays.

What can replace rare earth? ›

In collaboration with colleagues from Austria, University of Cambridge researchers have found that tetrataenite, a 'cosmic magnet' that takes millions of years to develop naturally in meteorites, can potentially be used instead of rare earth magnets.

Can rare earth be recycled? ›

Rare earth elements are critical to modern life and society. Very limited recycling of these critical elements currently takes place. Advances can be made in recycling of the REE from magnets, fluorescent lamps, batteries and catalysts. Increased amounts of REE recycling is needed to ensure security of supply.

Do rare earth minerals cause human health issues? ›

Mining for rare earth minerals generates large volumes of toxic and radioactive material, due to the co-extraction of thorium and uranium — radioactive metals which can cause problems for the environment and human health.

What country controls 97% of the rare earth elements? ›

Their mining is also environmentally hazardous. The rare earths were discovered and first put to industrial use in the United States. But lower labor costs and less strict environmental regulations in China have now enabled the country to be the world's predominant supplier of rare earths.

Who is the largest producer of metal in the world? ›

MetalLeading ProducerSecond Leading Producer
15 more rows

What is the largest rare earth mine in the world? ›

The Bayan Obo mine in Inner Mongolia, China is the world's biggest rare earth mine. China is the biggest producer of the rare earth elements in the world. The Bayan Obo mine in Inner Mongolia, China is the world's biggest rare earth mine.

Where is the rare earth capital of the world? ›

Baotou, the Inner Mongolian city known as China's rare earth capital and home to the vast majority of the region's rare earths extraction and processing facilities, reported 21.9 billion yuan in production value last year.

What are the problems with rare earth mining? ›

Mining wastewater from rare earth production can acidify the surrounding soil and groundwater. Mining solid waste can produce radioactive materials and heavy metal contamination10,11,12. Currently, mining is the most important activity destroying the ecological environment and causing pollution and disasters.

Where do 98% of rare earth metals come from? ›

Most rare earth materials are smuggled out of China.

What country has the most precious metals? ›

China: The world's No. 1 metals consumer holds more than half of the known global reserves of 9 of the 14 most critical raw materials.

Is rare earth toxic? ›

Most worrying is that rare earth ores are often laced with radioactive thorium and uranium, which result in especially detrimental health effects. Overall, for every ton of rare earth, 2,000 tons of toxic waste are produced.

Will we run out of rare earth metals? ›

The reserves of some rare earth minerals used in electronics, medical equipment and renewable energy could run out in less than 100 years. Rare earth minerals are naturally occurring resources, which cannot be recreated or replaced. Some are present in only very small quantities in the Earth's crust.

What are the 7 rare earth metals? ›

Rare-earth oxides (clockwise from top center): praseodymium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium, and gadolinium.

How do I invest in rare earth metals? ›

Investors can gain exposure to rare earth metals through exploration and processing companies, such as Neo Performance Materials (TSX: NEO) and Freeport-McMoRan (FCX). The VanEck Vectors Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF (REMX) is a popular exchange traded fund with holdings in rare earth metal companies.

Does Ukraine have rare earth metals? ›

Ukraine, in turn, is also among the most richly endowed European countries when it comes to rare earth metals and lithium reserves, with estimates of the value of these deposits ranging from $3 trillion-$11.5 trillion.

What is the most uranium rich country? ›

In 2021 Kazakhstan produced the largest share of uranium from mines (45% of world supply), followed by Namibia (12%) and Canada (10%). Uzbekistan (est.) China (est.)

What is the best uranium stock to invest? ›

3 Best Uranium Stocks to Buy Now
TickerCompanyCurrent Price
BHPBHP Group Limited$50.87
CCJCameco Corporation$23.68
DNNDenison Mines Corp.$1.16
20 Jul 2022

What Canadian province has the most value in mining? ›

Mineral production by province and territory

In 2021, Quebec ceded its place as the largest mining producer by value of production in Canada to British Columbia.

Where are the most valuable minerals found in Canada? ›

Production value of minerals in Canada by province 2021

Quebec produces a variety of important commodity minerals, including copper, diamonds, iron, lithium, nickel, niobium, gold, phosphate, rare earths, cobalt, and zinc.

What part of Canada is known for its vast mineral deposits? ›

The Western Canada Sedimentary Basin underlying most of Alberta contains vast mineral wealth. The geological strata not only contain oil sands, oil, natural gas and coal deposits, but also a large variety of metallic and industrial minerals.

Does Canada have any lithium? ›

While most in the mining industry know, it is not a small number to quote that there are 2.9 million tonnes of lithium resources (M+I, inclusive of reserves) in Canada (Source: Natural Resources Canada).

Which country has the most untapped lithium? ›

Chile has 9.2 million tons of lithium in total. As a result, it is first in the list of lithium reserves by country by some distance. However, there are some other countries that have significant reserves of lithium, as well. Australia has the second-largest lithium reserves in the world with 5.7 million tons.

Where does Tesla get its lithium? ›

Tesla buys lithium for its batteries directly from mines. In spring 2022, the company reportedly signed two significant contracts with Australian mining operators; specifically, the lithium-spodumene concentrate comes from Core and Liontown Resources. In addition, Tesla purchases lithium hydroxide from Ganfeng.

What is Canada's largest mineral resource? ›

Canada's top five mineral products by value for 2021 were gold, coal, iron ore concentrates, potash, and copper. Their combined value was $37.5 billion, accounting for two thirds of the total value of mineral production.

What is Canada's number one resource? ›

What Are Canada's Natural Resources?
RankResourceAnnual Production (Estimated Tonnes Unless Specified)
3Iron Ore25,000,000
9 more rows
11 Jun 2019

Who has control over natural resources in Canada? ›

Local, municipal, Indigenous, provincial/territorial, and federal governments in Canada all have different powers to manage their respective non-renewable natural and forestry resources.

What is the miracle mineral in Canadian lake? ›

“With the purple-sand beaches, of which Candle Lake is one example,” Ansdell said, “the most likely mineral is the mineral called garnet.”

Is there titanium in Canada? ›

In 2021, Canada was the leading producer of titanium in both North and South America.

What minerals are rich Canada? ›

Canada has long ranked among the world leaders in the production of uranium, zinc, nickel, potash, asbestos, sulfur, cadmium, and titanium. It is also a major producer of iron ore, coal, petroleum, gold, copper, silver, lead, and a number of ferroalloys.

Why can't Canada produce its own oil? ›

This is due to higher transportation costs, limited pipeline access to western Canadian domestic oil, and the inability of refineries to process WCSB heavy crude oil.

What is Canada's biggest export one? ›

Crude petroleum

Is Canada a rich country? ›

Canada is a highly developed nation with one of the largest economies in the world, impacting much of global trade. Its largest industries are real estate, mining, and manufacturing, and it is home to some of the largest mining companies in the world.

Is Canada running out of natural resources? ›

No. Most natural resources are plentiful. While some may be- come more scarce over time, price changes will cause people to find substitutes.

What export is highly controlled by Canada? ›

Softwood Lumber. Sugar and Sugar Containing Products. Sugar Confectionery and Chocolate Preparations (CETA Origin Quotas) Textiles and Apparel (CETA Origin Quotas)

What is the most used natural resource in Canada? ›

Not only do Canadians regard water as their most important natural resource, they know we have it in abundance and expect governments to look after it.

Where is the mineral capital of Canada? ›

With almost 90% of all types of minerals found on earth located in North Hastings, Bancroft is a major destination for recreational rock hounding enthusiasts and is known as the “Mineral Capital of Canada”.

What are Ontario's most valuable minerals? ›

Gold is the most sought-after mineral in Ontario, topping the charts with exploration spending of $626 million or 71% of the province's total exploration spending in 2021. In 2021, 3.2 million troy ounces of gold valued at $5.8 billion were produced in Ontario totalling 42% of Canada's gold production by value.

What is one mineral we use everyday? ›

Iron, manganese, selenium, and calcium all provide day-to-day nutrients that the body needs in order to function.


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