Rare Metals in Manitoba

Background information

Rare metals (RM) comprise a large number of elements, including beryllium, lithium, tantalum, niobium, tin, cesium, zirconium and the rare earth elements (REE). Rare metals have become increasingly attractive targets for mineral exploration due to their strategic value, and because they are essential raw materials used in technology and medical applications. These elements are also particularly important for emerging ‘green’ technologies, such as wind turbines and electric vehicles. As an example, the REE are essential in the production of permanent magnets used in wind turbines, and lithium is required for high-temperature ceramics, as well as for rechargeable batteries for use in portable electronics and hybrid vehicles.

At the present time, the REE market is controlled by China (Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, 2013), which has imposed a number of restrictions on its REE exports over the years. Growing global demand, coupled with restricted supply, makes the REE attractive commodities for the exploration industry, and is generating renewed interest in several localities in Manitoba. Potential new sources for these elements are currently being explored and developed in both Canada and the United States (e.g., Mountain Pass in California, Molycorp Inc., 2015; Nechalacho deposit in the Northwest Territories, Avalon Rare Metals Inc., 2016; and Strange Lake deposit in Québec, Quest Rare Minerals Ltd., 2016).

Worldwide examples of RM deposits are associated with a number of different geological settings and rock-types, the latter including granitic pegmatite, carbonatite and syenite. Manitoba has over 40 occurrences of RM, mostly associated with granitic pegmatite, and lesser carbonatite or alkaline syenite, distributed throughout the Archean Superior province and the Paleoproterozoic Trans-Hudson orogen. A world class example of this type of deposit is the Tanco pegmatite at Bernic Lake, in southeast Manitoba, currently being mined for cesium by Tantalum Mining Corporation of Canada Ltd., a subsidiary of Cabot Corp.

The number of known RM occurrences in Manitoba is steadily increasing as new discoveries continue to be made and known occurrences are further assessed. Additional localities and descriptions will be added to the website as work progresses.


Avalon Rare Metals Inc. 2016: Nechalacho Rare Earth Elements Project; URL <> [April, 2016].

Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum 2013: Global REE Production; URL <> [April, 2016].

Molycorp Inc. 2016: Molycorp Mountain Pass; URL <> [April, 2016].

Quest Rare Minerals Ltd. 2016: Strange Lake project; URL <> [April, 2016].

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