Steven Fletcher was the member of Parliament for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia from 2004 to 2015 and Canada’s first permanently disabled federal cabinet minister. He resides in Manitoba and is the principal of Fletcher Focus International.
Every day, amid the wilderness of boreal forest, Canadians driving along Manitoba’s Provincial Road 315 pass by Bernic Lake, just 165 kilometres outside Winnipeg.
They have nary a clue that they’ve driven past the world’s largest mining operation for a rare and highly valuable resource – one that’s worth more than gold, yet is little-known in the world at large.
Cesium – a soft, alkali metal that is element 55 on the periodic table – is categorized as a “rare earth mineral,” one of the vital elements for the technology we use today and will use tomorrow, from solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles and fast-charging batteries that could be the key to a clean-energy future to cutting-edge military tech and weapons.
Used in superaccurate atomic clocks, as well as in GPS devices and for oil drilling, cesium has also been designated one of the U.S. government’s 35 “critical” minerals for national and economic security interests.
Manitoba’s Tanco mine, below the floor of Bernic Lake, has enough of the stuff to supply the world for 2,000 years at the current rate of usage.
For the rest of this column: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-down-to-rare-earth-canada-ignores-chinas-resource-power-grab-at-its/