REEtec accepts Vital rare earths sample
Moving Canada's NWT one step closer to being a REE producer Metal Tech News – June 2, 2021
Last updated 6/8/2021 at 3:15pm
Norway-based REEtec has confirmed the quality of a rare earths sample produced from Vital Metals Ltd.'s Nechalacho project in Northwest Territories, which means Vital can finish the first phase of its power-of-partnerships strategy to deliver Canadian rare earths to market by the end of 2021.
Under this partnership strategy, a Northwest Territories First Nation contractor is mining high-grade rare earths ore from a near-surface deposit at Nechalacho; Vitals' Canadian subsidiary Cheetah Resources will upgrade the ore with an on-site x-ray transmission (XRT) sorting plant; and then the upgraded concentrates will be shipped to Vital's rare earth carbonate production plant adjacent to Saskatchewan Research Council's REE processing facility in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
The final step of Vital's power-of-partnerships strategy is an agreement with REEtec to separate the mixed rare earth carbonate product produced in Saskatchewan into rare earth oxides that go into electric vehicles, wind turbines, computer hard drives, and a plethora of other high-tech devices.
Earlier this year, Vital shipped a 12.6-kilogram (26.5 pounds) sample of Nechalacho-derived rare earth carbonate for REEtec to test for quality and compatibility with its rare earth separation and processing equipment.
REEtec says its tests of the sample has confirmed the material's purity is well within the agreed-upon initial specification and is compatible with REEtec's highly efficient and environmentally sound process.
"Customer acceptance from REEtec is a key milestone for the development of the Nechalacho rare earth project and the construction of our extraction plant in Saskatoon," said Vital Metals Managing Director Geoff Atkins. "This achievement demonstrates that we have our processes at Nechalacho working correctly and we can proceed in line with our plans. With the satisfaction of this milestone, the procurement of equipment for our rare earth extraction plant in Saskatoon will proceed."
Under the definitive offtake agreement with REEtec, Vital Metals will provide the Norwegian company with mixed rare earth carbonate product containing 1,000 metric tons of rare earth oxides, not counting the cerium, over the first five years.
The magnet rare earths praseodymium and neodymium are expected to account for roughly 447 metric tons, or roughly 45% of the annual rare earth oxides covered under the preliminary offtake agreement.
Vital intends to grow the scale of its operations at Nechalacho and the offtake and profit-sharing agreement with REEtec provides the companies with the option to increase this offtake volume up to 5,000 metric tons of rare earth oxides per year, minus the cerium.
On May 12, Vital reported that the first blast marked the start of mining at North T, a near-surface and high-grade deposit at Nechalacho with 105,000 metric tons of resources averaging 8.9% (9,345 metric tons) total rare earth oxides. The sorting of this high-grade ore is expected to begin in June, and the first rare earths oxides from this Northwest Territories project are expected to be produced before the end of the year.