Southeastern Manitoba may be on the verge of a mining boom.

An Alberta company has quietly acquired mineral claims over a large swath of the region.

“What is it that they're looking for, that is the big question? The idea is that it could be lithium,” said Ruth Bezys, president of the Manitoba Prospectors and Developers Association.

The geologist said lithium is a hot commodity right now – used to make batteries, cell phones and antidepressants.

Bezys said lithium might be found running along limestone rocks, which exists in the Steinbach area, or it could be diamonds and gold hiding below.

“It’s good news. Anything with mining is good news in Manitoba,” she said.

But it wasn't good news for father and son, Franz and Ronald Felnhofer. They had been planning to expand a housing development after investing tens of thousands of dollars into their 160 acres of land.

Last summer the plan stalled when they learned they couldn't build, because an Alberta company has a mineral claim on their property.

"We were supposed to arrange with them that they should give their permission to go ahead," said Ronald.

The Felnhofers now say they've been assured by the Rural Municipality of La Broquerie.

The RM told CTV News the province has been in touch with the Alberta company and they can go ahead and build, but the pair is still concerned about what the mineral claim might mean down the line for them and other builders.

"It's humungous the claim, and I don't know why they don't tell anybody," said Franz.

Manitoba Prospectors and Developers Association said despite some obstacles, companies will often compensate property owners and mining brings in a lot of revenue.

Bezys said it could be years before anything is taken out of the ground.

“Let's hope they find something because it is good for the province and secondly let's hope there is enough to make it into a mine,” said Bezys.

The province said the mineral rights holder is not required to disclose its interest in its claims, and confidentiality is important in the industry, especially for early stage projects.

The province said surface disputes that can't be resolved will go to the mining board.