Exploring Clean Technology

Canadians continue to address supply of critical materials

March 16, 2018

Advances in material science and new technology applications gallop forward at accelerating speeds! Fields include electrifying cars, buses and trucks; more efficient and reliable renewable energy sources; communications and computing capacities we only once imagined; and medical diagnostics and treatments. In order to fully adopt and implement these technologies (and those technologies which we haven’t even thought about), reliable sources of metals and materials will be needed. To mitigate these risks, new resources and their efficient processing will also need to gallop forward… and in many cases, sooner rather than later.

Canadian industry, academics, scientists, engineers and policy makers, along with their strong international expert networks, are doing their share in championing the cause. Over the next few months, important conferences and symposia on critical materials will be launched. Advances in critical material supply will be presented and collaborative work programs launched. Four of these events are briefly outlined below… three of the four will be hosted in Canada (in date order):

Resources for Future Generations (RFG) 2018
June 16 -21 (Vancouver, BC)

RFG is the first international conference dedicated to the availability of resources needed to sustain future generations. The conference is the initiative of the International Union of Geological Sciences, and will be delivered by local Canadian partners: the Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences, the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, the Geological Association of Canada and the Mineralogical Association of Canada.

One of the significant multi-day sessions at RFG will be MIN37: Energy and Technology Metals: Rare Earth Elements, Lithium and Related Advanced Materials - from Deposit Formation to Mining and Processing. This session is a collaborative initiative between the SoS RARE project in the UK and the Canadian Rare Earth Element Network (CREEN). Rapid growth in advanced technologies depends on a suite of unique materials, sometimes used in isolation, but more commonly in combination. While the title of the session has a REE bent, 13 of the 45 papers to be presented will be on lithium alone, complemented by additional papers on other critical materials. The program is designed to bring together researchers studying all the steps in the critical metals supply chain, with primary attention to geology, exploration, mining and decommissioning, and related environmental matters, supported with significant discussions on beneficiation, extraction, separation and refining to end uses.

The conference organizers expect 4000-5000 attendees.

MCARE 2018
August 20 – 23 (Vancouver, BC)

CREEN has been invited to deliver the keynote address at the American Ceramics Society (ACerS) and the Korean Institute of Chemical Engineers co-organized MCARE 2018: Material Challenges in Alternative Renewable Energy conference. The working theme of CREEN’s keynote is “The Adoption of Alternate and Renewable Energy Technologies are Dependent upon Reliable Critical Material Supply Chains.”

This annual event (this being the seventh) is hosted alternatively in North America and Korea. It brings together leading global experts from universities, industry, research and development laboratories and government agencies to interact and communicate material technologies that address development of affordable, sustainable, environmentally friendly and renewable energy conversion technologies.

Extraction 2018
August 26-29 (Ottawa, ON)

Extraction 2018 is organized under the aegis of TMS (Minerals, Metals and Materials Society), MetSoc (Metallurgy and Materials Society) and SME (Society of Mining Metallurgy and Exploration). One of the major programs at Exploration 2018 will be the Critical Materials Symposium, with its primary focus on the processing of critical, green and/or strategic metals, with a secondary focus on end-user information. The symposium will specifically examine (but is not limited to) rare earth elements, lithium, graphite, scandium and gallium. The Symposium will present 58 peer-edited papers. CREEN (through its efforts in launching MetSoc’s conference of Metallurgists REE Symposium in 2012 and successfully convened in 2013, ‘14, ‘15 and ‘17) is actively engaged in this year’s Organizing Committee.

MS&T 2018
October 14 (Columbus, Ohio)

As framed by MS&T (Material Science and Technology), the Rare Earth Metals and Critical Materials: Synthesis, Processing, Production and Recent Advances program will cover the critical materials cobalt, lithium, nickel, niobium, tantalum, zirconium, hafnium, uranium and thorium. The symposium will address the effect of new advances in separation, beneficiation, hydro and pyrometallurgical processing, metal making methods and recycling technologies on the supply of these materials now and in the future. CREEN has also been invited to participate on this Organizing Committee.

I am confident that critical material supply concerns will be addressed this year! It is good to see that Canadians are actively engaged domestically and internationally to source our better future.

Until soon… Ian