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OTTAWA — Canada is quietly staking its claim to being a global leader in a growing multibillion-dollar industry largely unknown to most Canadians but deemed by the government as “critical” to the country’s economy.
Canadian extractive companies, in collaboration with the federal government and other groups, have launched more than 200 exploration projects targeting what are called rare earth elements (REE).
These potentially lucrative rare earths — which include the 15 lanthanide metals on the periodic table plus scandium and yttrium — are increasingly sought after by several major industries for manufacturing their products.
Many geologists and mining experts consider the Canadian province of Québec to be an exceptional region from the standpoint of the potential wealth of its tremendous area of yet unexplored land. In excess of 90 percent of the province’s substratum is made up of Precambrian rock, a geological formation well known for its deposits of gold, iron, copper and nickel. Quebec hosts approximately 30 mines, 158 exploration projects and 15 primary processing industries, spanning a broad range of over 30 minerals of which the leading ones are gold, iron, titanium, asbestos, copper, zinc and silver. Since the Québec mining industry took off in the 1920′s, it has maintained steady growth and scarcely 40 percent of Québec’s mineral potential is now known.