The Canadian Rare Earth Elements Network (CREEN), a new collaborative network that aims to accelerate commercial production and processing of rare earth elements (REE), has formed in Canada. CREEN aims to enable Canadian producers and processors to supply at least 20% of anticipated global demand for critical REEs within five years, enabling Canada and its trading partners to meet the likely increased demand for advanced transportation, communications, energy and other products and systems.
In particular, CREEN and its members stated that they will address possible shortages of critical REEs that include yttrium (Y), neodymium (Nd), europium (Eu), terbium (Tb) and dysprosium (Dy).
A new study by Europe’s JRC concluded that among the eight elements classified as critical and at risk of shortage are six rare earth metals (dysprosium, europium, terbium, yttrium, praseodymium and neodymium), and the two metals gallium and tellurium. Dysprosium was identified as being the most at risk, as the EU is expected to require 25% of the expected world supply in 2020-2030 to meet the Union’s demand for hybrid and electric vehicles and wind turbines. (Earlier post.)
CREEN brings together mineral exploration companies, academics, commercial and government laboratories, technology developers, engineering companies, other service providers and downstream processors and manufacturers in a concerted effort to develop innovative solutions to technical, economic and commercial challenges faced by prospective REE producers and processors and to develop highly qualified personnel. Collaboration with international partners will assist CREEN in addressing the importance of REE-containing components used in advanced products.
The Network will track REE research activities across Canada; establish an accessible inventory of REE projects; facilitate collaboration; promote and disseminate findings; identify research funding opportunities; and produce communication products for broader audiences when appropriate. Additional resource materials may include related policy documents, regulatory and guidance materials and maps.
The Network is intended to support the domestic REE research community with three objectives in mind: minimize the duplication of work; maximize innovation in REE processing; and seek synergies and stimulate research partnerships.
The CREEN website is hosted by the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM). The industry-led Network and website are temporarily facilitated by the Minerals and Metals Sector of Natural Resources Canada (until the end of March 2014). REE stakeholders include both private and public sector entities as well as non-profit agencies or associations.
The Rare Earth Technology Alliance (RETA), an international organization representing a wide coalition of organizations that produce, use, and study rare earths, applauded the launch.
A bold approach is being taken in Canada to assure its place in the race to meet worldwide critical material demands with the new CREEN program. The program’s goal of producing and securing 20% of the global production for separated critical rare earth products by 2018 demonstrates the critical nature of this market and its growing global impact.—RETA