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Saskatchewan establishes partnership with France on strategic minerals

Refined tellurium is shown in Magna, Utah in a Wednesday, May 11, 2022 photo. The Saskatchewan government is launching a critical minerals strategy with the hope of growing the industry in the province. The strategy aims to double the number of critical minerals produced in Saskatchewan by 2030. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rick Bowmer Refined tellurium is shown in Magna, Utah in a Wednesday, May 11, 2022 photo. The Saskatchewan government is launching a critical minerals strategy with the hope of growing the industry in the province. The strategy aims to double the number of critical minerals produced in Saskatchewan by 2030. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rick Bowmer
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Saskatchewan and France have begun a new partnership – promising to explore, develop and cooperate on new projects related to strategic mineral resources.

Minister of Trade and Export Development Jeremy Harrison and French Delegate for Foreign Trade Franck Riester made the partnership official at the Saskatchewan Research Council on Monday.

“Today, I am delighted to expand and build on our relationship with France in strategic minerals sectors,” Harrison said in a news release. “This is especially important given our shared goals of lowering greenhouse gas emissions and making energy and mining more reliable and sustainable than ever before.”

Cooperation between the province and France has been long standing – with French-based nuclear energy company Orano managing several mining operations in northern Saskatchewan.

“This agreement with the Saskatchewan government is one of the first we have signed with a Canadian province, after the one signed with Quebec last November. That says a lot about the priority we attach to our relationship with Saskatchewan,” Riester said.

The letter of intent between the two governments will focus on improving supply chain security, sustainability, research and development. It also includes the intention to share knowledge and develop projects related to critical mineral innovations.

A total of 23 critical minerals can be found in Saskatchewan, according to the province. They include uranium, potash, rare earth elements, helium, lithium as well as copper.

According to Canada’s critical minerals strategy, there are 31 critical minerals found across Canada.

Six in particular, lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt, copper and rare earth elements are recognized as the most valuable for domestic manufacturing efforts.

The value of critical minerals is expected to rise by 400 to 600 per cent over the next several decades as nations continue their transitions to clean energy economies.

France boasts the world’s seventh largest economy and ranks third in Europe, following Germany and the United Kingdom.

Last year, Saskatchewan exports to France totaled nearly $220 million – marking an increase of 68 per cent from the year previous.

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