Following Vital Metals’ bankruptcy, what is the future of rare earth elements in Sask.?

Rare earth element ingots were successfully created in Saskatchewan by the SRC. Saskatchewan Research Council

The Canadian government is looking at options to take back funding from a company that had set up shop in Saskatoon.

Vital Metals Canada created a rare earth element plant in Saskatoon and received $5 million from the feds in September 2022, but the company terminated the plant and declared bankruptcy in mid-2023.

“PrairiesCan is a creditor and is pursuing all reasonable avenues of collection, including seeking amounts that may be recovered in bankruptcy,” a statement from the federal government read.

Click to play video: 'Rare earth elements processing facility under development in Saskatoon'
Rare earth elements processing facility under development in Saskatoon

“The Department engaged the Trustee (MNP) in December 2023 and January 2024 and was advised that no offers for the whole of the assets were received from the sales process that closed on November 10, 2023. However, the Trustee did receive partial offers and liquidation proposals which the Trustee will entertain.”

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The cause for the declaration of bankruptcy came from a strategic review Vital Metals did between April and July 2023 where it determined that the processing facility was no longer economically viable to operate.

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Global News reached out to the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) to see what this means for rare earth elements in Saskatchewan.

Click to play video: 'Focus Saskatchewan: Rare Earth Metals'
Focus Saskatchewan: Rare Earth Metals

SRC sent a statement saying it was working with the provincial government with the goal of establishing a rare earth element hub in the province to use as a model for future rare earth element (REE) initiatives.

“Vital/Cheetah’s project was looking at a very specific intermediate product. SRC is developing a fully-integrated approach across the entire REE mid-stream supply chain and is much less vulnerable to market volatility,” SRC said.

The organization said it was well on its way to establishing its own hub through its processing facility, adding that the construction of the facility continues to be on time and on budget.


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