Rare Earths in Western Canada

BC flagThis piece is the second in a series about rare earth companies and projects in Canada. Rare earth elements are important in the manufacture of renewable energy components and other high technologies, and Canada has the potential to be a major player in the market. This article focuses on Western Canada and the Northwest Territories. 

Commerce Resources (TSXV:CCE)
Commerce Resources is an exploration and development company involved in rare earth and critical metals projects. Among them, the Upper Fir Tantalum and Niobium Deposit at the Blue River Project in British Columbia and the Ashram Rare Earth Project in Quebec. The Blue River project includes the Upper Fir, Fir and Verity properties, of which the Upper Fir is most highly prospective. The preliminary economic assessment of the site shows potential for 7,500 tons of underground operation daily. This was based on a resource estimate of 36.4 million tons of indicated resources, containing 195 parts per million tantalum metal and 1,700 ppm niobium metal. Inferred resources in the amount of 6.4 million tons are expected to contain 199 ppm of tantalum and 1,890 ppm of niobium. The Ashram Project in Quebec is expected to produce 4,000 tons a day in an open-pit operation with an estimated life of 25 years. The resource estimate for this site yielded 29.3 million tons of measured and indicated resource, and 219.8 million tons of inferred resource. The rare earth minerals at the Ashram Project occur in monazite, bastnaesite and xenotime.

Critical Elements Corp (TSXV:CRE)
Critical Elements, based in Quebec, aims to acquire rare earth and critical metals properties that can be brought quickly into production. It focuses in particular on tantalum, and has a tantalum-lithium project in the advanced exploration phase at this time. Critical Elements aims to become the largest producer of tantalum in North America. The Rose tantalum-lithium project consists of 636 active mining titles. It is located in the northeast portion of the Archean Superior Province of the Canadian Shield craton, which displays a wide variety of geological features. Critical Elements also has half ownership in the Croinor project, located in the Pershing, Vauquelin and Haig townships in Abitibi, Quebec. In the Rocky Mountain Rare Earths Project in British Columbia, the company has the Trident property which has yielded signs of niobium and tantalum, the Kin property that is very prospective for rare earth elements, and the IRC project that is adjacent to an operation run by another rare-earths company.

Eagle Plains Resources (TSXV:EPL)
Eagle Plains Resources Ltd. has a total of seven rare earth elements projects. They are Eagle Lake Uranium, Ice River, Jenny, Karin Lake Uranium, Kulyk Lake Uranium, Oreo and Wollaston. Most of these sites are also prospective for uranium, as some of their names imply. However, the Ice River Project is prospective for base metals, industrial minerals and rare earths. The Ice River Project is located near Golden, British Columbia. The property is currently being accessed by helicopter, though Forest Service roads reach within a few miles of the project’s boundary. It is at a high elevation, with mostly subalpine scrub vegetation. The total of 28 Ice River mineral claims are owned 100 percent by Eagle Plains. The area has been the subject of study and explorations for a century, and Eagle Plains hopes to find deposits of rare earth elements in it. REE samples returned 1.44 percent total rare earth element oxides, which makes the site highly prospective.

Arctic Star Exploration Corp (TSXV:ADD)
Arctic Star Exploration has exploration developments in diamond, gold and copper mining as well as rare earths. Its rare earths project is in British Columbia in what is becoming known as “The Rocky Mountain Rare Metal Belt,” northeast of Prince George within a mining district that is emerging as a major area of activity in Canadian rare earth exploration, according to the company’s website. The property is under exploration and comprises 20 mineral claims. In 2008 and 2009, the site was tested with 15 drill holes at three sites, and was found to contain as much as 3.55 percent rare earth elements across 48.64 m in some places.

Avalon Rare Metals (TSX:AVL)
Toronto-based Avalon Rare Metals’ flagship project is the Nechalacho Deposit in Thor Lake in the Northwest Territories. The company’s website asserts the deposit’s large size and rich resources make it an important site for rare earth exploration and development in Canada. There has been a positive feasibility study completed and the environmental assessment was approved by the federal government. With these steps out of the way, Avalon claims Nechalacho is now the most advanced potential new source of heavy rare earths in the world outside of China. Avalon also holds other rare earth projects in Canada, three of which are in advanced stages of development. They are Separation Rapids in Ontario with lithium; Warren Township in Ontario with calcium feldspar and East Kemptville with tin-indium-gallium-germanium in Nova Scotia.


Related reading: 

Rare Earth Elements in Eastern Canada