An NWT rare earths project at the Nechalacho site southeast of Yellowknife has its first customer, according to the mining company behind the venture.
A Norwegian company called REEtec, noted for developing a new and advanced process to separate high-purity rare earth elements, has agreed to sign on for five years of supply, according to a Monday news release from Vital Metals, the parent company of Cheetah Resources, which is conducting a rare earths demonstration project at Thor Lake.
David Connelly, Cheetah’s vice-president of strategy and corporate affairs, told NNSL Media that the announcement is an important step.
“This sale (of rare earth elements) will account for substantially all of the production from Nechalacho during the demonstration project,” Connelly said. “When you know that there is a sale, it de-risks the project because now there is a customer.”
Geoff Atkins, managing director for Vital Metals, stated, “We are delighted to secure this significant off-take term sheet with a partner such as REEtec.”
“The agreement will form the foundation for the development of the company’s (Cheetah’s) processing operations in 2021. In the same way that Vital is focusing on the development of a low environmental impact mining operation at Nechalacho in Canada’s Northwest Territories, it is also a pleasure to be able to join with a likeminded company to develop a source of rare earths to support our customers in the diversification of their supply chains.
“To achieve this whilst highlighting the potential for low environmental impact rare earth supply chains is extremely pleasing.”
The Cheetah Resources project is making steady progression. In November, the company sought quotes for barging transportation costs for the rare earth ore concentrate through Hay River from the GNWT-owned Marine Transportation Service.
In late September, the company announced that it had generated $7.5 million in investment from new and existing investors.
In early 2021, the company is aiming to build an ice road to the mining site and open an office in downtown Yellowknife.
Cheetah Resources is also continuing its hiring efforts as it recently filled a Canadian operations manager, mine operator and will be filling three professional positions shortly.