The Nechalacho mine is seen from the air in August 2022. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
The owner of the NWT’s Nechalacho rare earths mine says it will now place more emphasis on expanding operations in a new area of the site.
Vital Metals said a larger project at Nechalacho – east of Yellowknife – would become its “primary focus,” with work to complete a processing facility in Saskatoon pushed back.
The company said it remained committed to completing the Saskatoon facility, which is forecast to cost a little over CAD $55 millionto build. Of that, $18 million has already been spent.
Delaying some aspects of the build for a year will also delay the spending of around $15 million, the company said.
Instead, Vital wants to speed up the process of opening Nechalacho’s Tardiff deposit for extraction.
Tardiff is separate from the deposit currently being mined, which is billed as a small-scale “demonstration” of the rare earth minerals available at Nechalacho. By contrast, Vital says Tardiff is a “world class” deposit. Staff talk of mining millions of tons annually, many times the demonstration mine’s initial 100,000-ton target, when Tardiff comes online and introduces a second phase of the mine’s life.
Tardiff “has the potential to anchor what we believe will ultimately be a globally significant producer of rare earth minerals,” Vital stated in a press release just before Christmas.
“Deposits of this quality, located in a stable and mining-friendly jurisdiction such as Canada, are very rare and demand a coherent development strategy.”
Vital said it will now accelerate plans to acquire the permitting for mining at Tardiff and complete a definitive feasibility study, a type of study often used to help mining companies find financing.
Former managing director Geoff Atkins was dismissed without explanation by Vital Metals in August. The company installed John Dorward in the position last month.
Operations at Nechalacho began in summer 2021, creating around 30 seasonal jobs mining rare earth minerals that power key parts of vehicles, including electric vehicles, and various green technologies.