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Trudeau visits rare earth elements processing plant in Saskatoon

The Canadian Press   

Business Operations Government

SASKATOON – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau toured a rare earth elements processing plant in Saskatoon Monday, but Saskatchewan’s premier expressed disappointment he was not made aware of the visit.

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark was part of the tour, but Premier Scott Moe was not.

“The Prime Minister’s visit to Saskatchewan today to tour a rare earth elements processing plant is disappointing, but not surprising,” Moe said in a statement early Monday.

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“It’s disappointing because this is an area that the provincial and federal governments see eye to eye on, yet we were not aware of the Prime Minister’s visit.”

When asked about Moe’s statement, Trudeau said there have been many opportunities to make announcements with Moe over the years.

“The government of Saskatchewan is an important partner on many different issues,” he told reporters.

“At the same time, we also know there’s work to be done on encouraging the government of Saskatchewan to see the opportunities that companies, and indeed, workers are seeing in cleaner jobs, in the opportunities for cleaner energy projects.”

Moe, who was scheduled to talk to reporters later Monday, said he hoped Trudeau had positive news for further investment in the area.

Lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt, copper and the group of 17 metals and minerals known as rare earth elements are being prioritized for investments in exploration, production and processing as part of Canada’s critical minerals strategy.

Critical minerals were also among the issues Trudeau, U.S. President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador discussed during their summit last week in Mexico.

Canada is not a commercial producer of rare earth elements, though it does have some of the largest-known deposits.

In 2020, the World Bank predicted that demand for critical minerals – dozens of metals and minerals like lithium and copper that are used in batteries and clean energy generation – will soar 500 per cent by 2050.

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