Quest Rare Minerals Ltd. have been working behind the scenes for the last five years to see their dream of rare earth mined from their Strange Lake deposit in northeastern Quebec processed and distributed for use worldwide.
The vision is to also have a road connection from Strange Lake extend across Labrador to Voisey’s Bay, where the rare earth would be shipped to the proposed hydrometallurgical plant at Bécanour, Que., processed and then separated into individual rare earth oxides.
Dirk Naumann is the executive vice-president of development at Quest Rare Minerals. He and Jon Hykawy of Stormcrow — a consulting firm that works with junior exploration companies — were in Happy Valley-Goose Bay last week to meet with stakeholders on the Strange Lake project, providing updates on what they hope see in the future.
“We have to work with the federal and provincial government, the Innu and the Nunatsiavut Government for the Environmental Impact Assessment process before any permits (can be obtained),” explained Naumann.
So what exactly is rare earth?
“The rare earths are a number of different chemical elements, used in a variety of different industries,” explained Hykawy.
“Unfortunately, the rare earths behaves similar to one another, chemically, so it’s very hard to separate them from one another.”
Hykawy noted rare earth has very valuable properties and is used in several industry-related products, the most dominant being extremely powerful magnets and high-strength but small electric motors. It’s also used in products like flourescent lighting and light emitting diode phosphors, cell phones, rechargeable batteries and more.
“Everyone knows about mining of iron ore, or nickel and gold (but) when it comes to rare earth, we have to explain and educate to take the mystery out of the subject, and make apparent how important they are for our daily life,” noted Naumann.
Naumann said the rare earth will be taken out of the rocks and processed to separate the rare elements.
He said their target audience for their presentation in Goose Bay was the Aboriginal communities and governments and the business community.
“Our focus is on Happy Valley-Goose Bay as the hub of the business community,” said Naumann. “We will continue to visit other Labrador communities over the next six to eight weeks, including Nain and Natuashish and others.”
Naumann added consultation is “very important.”
“It’s also a good opportunity to gauge opinion on the project, how receptive people are,” he said.
Despite the economic downturn in Labrador West with the layoffs at both IOC and Wabush Mines, Naumann believes the demand for rare earth is there and will only continue to rise in the years to come.
“The demand for rare earth is increasing, as it’s used in high tech applications,” he said. “It’s grown in demand over the last number of years.”
Naumann added he will be back to Happy Valley-Goose Bay in June to attend the Expo Labrador conference and “continue the conversation” on rare earth.
“This is a delicate issue when it comes to the Earth,” he said. “We want to learn and do it right.”
For more information on the Strange Lake project, visit www.questrareminerals.com/strange_lake.php.