The U.S. government is putting up millions of dollars for the construction of processing plants in North America, and Canadian companies are eligible to apply
In a development that could resuscitate Canada’s rare earths metals’ sector, the U.S. government is putting up millions of dollars for the construction of processing plants in North America, according to a document obtained by the Financial Post.
Rare earths metals are considered increasingly important for cutting-edge military and technological applications, but the supply chain is almost entirely located in Asia with Chinese companies dominating the sector.
Now, as part of a U.S. government-led effort to build out a North American supply chain amid rising tensions with China, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory is planning to award an estimated US$40 million in matching funds to companies that can separate and process anywhere from 500 to 5,000 metric tons of rare earth elements on an annual basis.
Canadian companies are eligible to apply for money under the program, a sign that the two countries are working co-operatively on the endeavour to build a North American supply chain. Last year, Canada signed on to a U.S.-led initiative that aims to reduce global reliance on China for critical minerals, such as rare earths.
“It’s a really intricate value chain with a lot of steps along the way,” said Ryan Castilloux, managing director of Adamas Intelligence, a rare earths advisor. “Outside of China, there’s only a few players dipping their toes into the upstream part of that chain.”