Vital Metals’ Nechalacho rare earths project in Canada’s Northwest Territories (NWT), 100km southeast of Yellowknife, hosts a world-class resource of 94.7Mt at 1.46% REO (measured, indicated and inferred). Nechalacho’s North T Zone hosts a high-grade resource of 101,000 tonnes at 9.01% LREO (2.2% NdPr), making it one of the highest grade rare earths deposits in the world.
Vital is targeting production of rare earth oxide at Nechalacho in 2021, with early production from a North T starter pit. It has completed detailed engineering for the ore sorting plant, and defined capital and operating costs. Vital aims to produce a minimum of 5,000 tonnes of contained REO by 2025 at the project, and has signed an off-take agreement with Norwegian company REEtec for Stage 1 production with the supply of 1,000t REO (ex-Cerium)/yr for an initial five-year period.
Mining has commenced at the North T Zone at Nechalacho, and concentrate production will begin via ore sorting, before material is sent to a Saskatoon cracking and leaching facility later in 2021.
Vital has commenced drilling to define a mine plan for Stage 2 which will involve development of the larger Tardiff deposit. This drilling aims to develop Nechalacho as a larger scale, longer life rare earths project.
More than $120 million has been spent by previous owners on drilling, permitting and project development at Nechalacho, which includes a 40-person camp and airstrip. Nechalacho is fully permitted to commence mining and sorting operations at site. Total construction cost to produce rare earth carbonate at Nechalacho is A$20 million.
Vital aims to be the largest independent supplier of clean mixed rare earth feedstock outside China.