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April 26, 2012 at 10:00 AM EDT
Rare earth elements: A rare opportunity for Canada

OTTAWA, April 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ - In a report issued today: Canada's Rare Earth Deposits Can Offer A Substantial Competitive Advantage, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce sheds light on the opportunity for Canada to start punching above its weight in leveraging what is often referred to as the "oil of the 21st century".

Rare earth elements are a series of 17 chemically similar metals that have unique chemical, magnetic and fluorescent properties. They are found in hybrid and electric cars, fluorescent lights, plasma screens, portable computers, hand-held electronic devices, wind power generators and optical and medical devices. Several rare earth elements are essential constituents of automotive pollution control catalytic converters and petroleum fluid cracking catalysts. They have a wide variety of defence applications, some of which are critical to countries' national security and are used in precision guided munitions (missiles and smart bombs), lasers, satellite communications, jet fighter engines and radar systems.

"Canada has 1.1 billion pounds of rare earths locked in black shale deposits (the Alberta Black Shale Project) worth an estimated $206 billion. In addition, several other Canadian mines across the country show great potential," said Perrin Beatty President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. "We have been blessed with great geology and we have a tremendous opportunity to turn our resource richness into a significant competitive advantage," he added.

After embarking on a mission to become a world superpower in the production of rare earth elements, China now controls 97.3 per cent of the total world production. Over the past several years, it has been raising export duties as well as reducing export quotas on some rare earth elements, which has led the United States, Japan and the European Union to file a Trade case at the World Trade Organization earlier this year. The G20 is also very active in the debate.

"With the Japanese, Americans and Europeans now searching for ways to counter's China's monopoly, Canada is in a very enviable position," added Beatty. A copy of the report can be found  at www.chamber.ca .

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the vital connection between business and the federal government. It helps shape public policy and decision-making to the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada with a network of over 420 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing 192,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all regions. News and information are available at www.chamber.ca or follow us on Twitter @CdnChamberofCom.

SOURCE CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

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