REEtec to purchase more Vital rare earths
Deal expands magnet REEs for Norwegian company by 50% Metal Tech News – October 20, 2021
Last updated 10/19/2021 at 2:59pm
In another move that demonstrates rare earths production at Nechalacho is scaling up faster than originally anticipated, Vital Metals Ltd. and REEtec AS have amended their offtake agreement to increase the sales of rare earths product sold to REEtec by 50%.
A Norway-based company that has developed an efficient and environmentally sound technology to separate the notoriously interlocked rare earths into the individual elements needed for high-tech and industrial applications, REEtec is the final link in a rare earths supply chain that begins at Vital's Nechalacho mine in Northwest Territories.
Under a definitive agreement signed in February, Vital will provide REEtec rare earth carbonate product containing 1,000 metric tons of rare earth oxides per year. The magnet rare earths praseodymium and neodymium were expected to account for an estimated 470 metric tons of the REEs produced by REEtec under the original agreement.
Under the amended agreement, Vital will sell REEtec rare earth carbonate product containing at least 750 metric tons of praseodymium and neodymium within 2,000 metric tons per year total rare earth oxides delivered to the Norway-based REE company.
"We are very pleased to have partnered with Vital Metals and to have established a fruitful cooperation which will benefit both our companies," said REEtec CEO Sigve Sporstøl. "The increased supply of NdPr (neodymium and praseodymium) enables us to further strengthen our position as a supplier of high-quality products based on a sustainable ring process and a transparent supply chain."
The rare earth carbonate to be sold to REEtec will be produced at a facility Vital is building near the city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to produce rare earth carbonate from Nechalacho ore.
REEtec says its own testing of a sample of Nechalacho-derived rare earth carbonate produced earlier this year has confirmed the material's purity and compatibility with the Norwegian company's highly efficient and environmentally sound REE separation process.
Earlier this month, Vital announced that construction of this plant is well underway, and the first ore being delivered from its new Nechalacho mine in Northwest Territories is expected to be processed by the end of the year.
This plant is being built to have a startup production capacity of 1,000 metric tons per year, which is 50% higher than originally planned, with a second stage of expansion to 2,000 metric tons per year.
This larger capacity and the ability to easily expand the facility provides Vital with plenty of space to deliver more Canada-produced rare earth carbonate to REEtec and other companies with REE separation and purification facilities.
"This 50% increase in product to be sold to REEtec represents a vote of confidence in Vital Metals' ability to guarantee feedstock to the European rare earths supply chain," said Vital Metals Managing Director Geoff Atkins. "This increase will result in the expansion of our Saskatoon plant to double capacity by the end of 2023 with REEtec taking 75% of the plant capacity from that time. There's also potential for a long-term supply agreement for an additional 10 years after 2028, which would give us a guaranteed market for our products as we look to extend Nechalacho's mine life in Stage 2 operations and bring our other projects on-line."
Under this expansion option, Vital would deliver up to 2,500 metric tons of praseodymium and neodymium to REEtec per year within roughly 6,800 metric tons of metric tons per year total rare earth oxides.
Reflecting the planned ramp-up schedule of the Saskatoon rare earth extraction plant over the first 12 months of operation, Vital plans to deliver the first 500 metric tons of rare earth oxides containing 187.5 metric tons praseodymium and neodymium by October of 2023.