Canada participates in China-led ISO Rare Earths Technical Committee


The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has created a technical committee for the development of international rare earth elements (REE) standards. This initiative has been seeded under Chinese leadership, with the current committee membership being comprised of China, Japan, Korea, USA, Australia, India, and Canada. Some 22 countries have already signed on as observers and may become participants in due course.

Each of the participating countries will have a National Mirror Committee to lead their country’s participation on the ISO committee. With support from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and CREEN, the CSA Group (formerly Canadian Standards Association), will be administering the Canadian Mirror Committee (MC) and liaison activities with the ISO REE Committee. The MC is composed of members from the different subject areas and interest categories within the rare earths field in Canada. The MC will have full responsibility for the Canadian participation in the ISO Rare Earths committee work and the potential adoption of the resulting ISO standards as Canadian standards. Based on a submission by China, the formation of ISO TC/298 was recently approved by ISO. As a result, the international community is coming together under ISO TC/298 to develop standards for the full lifecycle of rare earths production.

This activity will advance Canada’s interests in the rare earths sector by helping to ensure Canadian norms, practices and experiences are recognized, accepted and incorporated into newly developed international standards. This will facilitate the adoption of internationally accepted standards for use locally in Canada and other markets that are trusted by regulators and industry alike, and will assist to reduce barriers for international trade.

Canada has the opportunity to provide the rest of the world with sustainably sourced rare earth elements, which will reduce the risk of shortages or market manipulation. Being actively involved on this ISO standards development initiative will facilitate common international rules, thereby bolstering domestic and international trade. It will also indicate that Canada is a leader in REE, attracting investment and domestic activity.

As there are many technical challenges involved throughout the life cycle of REE production, standards that help mainstream best practices across the entire lifecycle of production will help ensure the health, safety and welfare of all involved.