Rare earths, 17 minerals critical to the energy transition for their use in electric car batteries and wind turbines, are also crucial to national security for use in aerospace and defense applications.
Shutdowns to manufacturing plants in China during the covid-19 pandemic that could cut off US rare earths imports highlighted the nation is reliant on China for its rare earths needs. The only rare earth mine now operating in the United States – Mountain Pass in California – is partly owned by a Chinese state-backed company that currently sends material mined in the US to China for processing.
In a race to establish new supply chains, miners are searching the world for rare earths deposits, but the minerals are notoriously difficult to extract from hard rock and expensive to process.
Putting a spotlight on potential rare earths mines of the future, Mining Intelligence compiled a list of the world’s top 10 rare earth projects, measured in total rare earth oxides (TREO).
The Tanbreez property in Greenland, owned by Rimbal, takes top spot on the list with a 28.2 million tonne (mt) TREO resource. Rare earth explorers are drawn to Greenland to dig into what the US Geological Survey calls the world’s biggest undeveloped deposits of rare earth metals. Former US president Trump famously offered to buy Greenland to gain access to its resources, and company’s owner told Reuters he had met US officials weeks before Trump made the offer.
Magris Resources’ St Honoré project in Québec, Canada is in second place with 18.4mt TREO. The property is situated 1km north of Magris’ operating niobium mine.
Australia-based Greenland Energy Transition Minerals’ Kvanefjeld project is in third place with a 10.2mt resource. Kvanefjeld was granted preliminary approval in 2020, but in 2021 Greenland’s parliament passed a bill to ban uranium mining and exploration, effectively blocking development as uranium would be a by-product. Last year, the miner took the governments of Greenland and Denmark to court over the legislation.
Mrima Hill in Kenya, eastern Africa, takes fourth place with 6.1mt TREO. The property is owned by Canadian-listed Pacific Wildcat Resources, which in 2018 was ordered to pay royalties to the government to ensure Kenya gets a bigger share of earnings from its nascent mining sector.
US American Rare Earths’ Halleck Creek project in Wyoming is number five with a 4.7mt resource. The company says the chemical composition of the feedstock at Halleck Creek is low on thorium content, which would make it easier and more economical to process.
Canada Commerce Resources’ Ashram project in Québec is in sixth place with 4.68mt TREO. Located in the northern region of the province, Ashram is one of the largest rare earth deposits in the world with a fluorspar component which also ranks as one of the largest defined globally.
Peak Rare Earths’ Ngualla project in Tanzania takes seventh place with 4.6mt TREO. The company says concentrate will initially be sold as a standalone product, while the study of downstream integration opportunities is undertaken in collaboration with the Government of Tanzania.
Torngat’s Strange Lake project in the Nunavik region of Québec is in eighth place with 4.4mt TREO. Last year, Torngat received a $50 million investment to advance the project.
Geomega Resources’ Montviel property in Abitibi, Québec takes ninth place with a 3.9mt resource. Initial drill results confirmed Montviel as world class neodymium resource.
Rounding out our list is Avalon Advanced Materials’ Nechalacho project with a 1.8mt resource. The Nechalacho project, located at Thor Lake in the Mackenzie Mining District of the Northwest Territories is separate from, but has the same name as Canada’s first producing rare earth mine.
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