Alberta strikes panel to create strategy for mineral extraction

The Alberta government is asking a panel of five experts to come up with a strategy to expand the province’s minerals sector.

The province wants to develop resources high in demand globally, such as lithium, which is used to make batteries, to help diversify the economy, said Energy Minister Sonya Savage on Wednesday. 

“The products that we have in Alberta, from uranium to lithium, to potash to precious metals, they’re things that can be used in manufacturing and they’re part of the future going forward,” Savage said.

“We’re looking at the potential that this has and the opportunity it has to diversify the economy, to bring in new investment, to bring in a new sector.” 

The panel, composed of Stephanie Autut, Bob McLeod, Allison Rippin Armstrong, Gordon Stothart and Eira Thomas, has more than a 100 years of combined experience in the mining industry, Savage said. 

“Their advice will be an important element in reaching our ultimate goal, that is becoming a global destination for mineral investment, exploration and development.”

The panel will meet with Indigenous peoples, exploration and development companies, environmental and conservation groups, and research and innovation interests, as well as landowners and municipalities, before submitting a final report in the spring.

The province is looking for innovative ways to develop mineral resources while respecting its environmental obligations, Savage said. 

She highlighted the work of Calgary’s E3 Metals, where the news conference took place. 

The company extracts lithium from the brine by-product of oil and gas extraction. 

Lithium mining represents a huge opportunity for Alberta, said CEO Chris Doornbos.

“Alberta holds vast lithium resources across the province that are the same-size paradigm globally as the oil reserve,” Doornbos said.  

Alberta is also interested in developing its nuclear energy sector, Savage said.  

In August, the province signed a memorandum of understanding with Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick to support the advancement and deployment of nuclear energy through small modular reactors.

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