A planned event to mark the resurgence of Hay River as the hub of the North has been postponed, NNSL Media learned this week.
Cheetah Resources, which owns the Nechalacho rare earths mine on the East Arm of Great Save Lake, stated this week that a plan with CN Rail and the Town of Hay River to hold an event in the community on Sept. 18 has been delayed to 2022 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The pandemic also led to the cancellation of a media tour at the Nechalacho site.
David Connelly, Cheetah’s vice-president of strategy and corporate affairs. said developments are moving positively at the site nonetheless. The first barge shipments of ore from the mine to Hay River’s railway hub are due either in late September or early October and will be transported to Saskatoon for further refining.
“(Separated ore) will be trans-shipped by truck and rail from Hay River to Saskatoon to Cheetah’s metallurgical facility for further processing,” Connelly stated.
The company has reached the halfway point of its goal of mining and stockpiling 600,000 tonnes of rock by the end of September.
“We are successfully demonstrating the environmental, social, economic and operational goals that we had set out to do,”Connelly said.
Key to this success, he added, is the use of the sensor-based sorter by TOMRA, which separates rare earth minerals when put through a conveyor-based machine.
There are 60 employees working on rotation on the site, with 70 per cent of them being Indigenous and 85 per cent are from the North. Being able to have Indigenous people working on the project is a source of pride for Cheetah, Connelly added.
“The mine manager, environmental officer, office manager and most of the supervisors and lead hands are Indigenous,” he said.
To make the site more comfortable for people of Indigenous background, Connelly said the company will soon be unveiling trilingual signs at the mine, which will include English, French and the Wiilideh Yati language.
“Some signs are already up but we will do an unveiling and then we need to get them all up,” Connelly said.