The ice road stretching from Dettah to the Nechalacho Rare Resources mining project opened this weekend.
Production should start in April, according to a statement from the company. Much of Cheetah Resource’s mining fleet travelled to the mine over the weekend
Work on the development of the open pit has begun, where Cheetah Resources and Nahanni Det’on Cho will start mining rare earth metal ore, which includes lithium, zirconium, beryllium, niobium and tantalum. The metals are used for components of cell phones and computer hard drives, among other things.
Cheetah Resources signed a contract worth up to $8.7 million with Det’on Cho Nahanni Construction earlier this year.
Det’on Cho Nahanni Construction is owned by the Yellowknives Dene First Nation through its business arm Det’on Cho Management. Construction workers from the company will also be working on the mine.
The mine would be one of the few rare earth metal mines outside of China.
“Vital Metals aims to become the lowest cost producer of mixed rare earth oxide outside of China,” according to a statement on Cheetah Resources’ website.
This project would provide renewed economic output from a mining industry that is largely past its peak in the territory, according to economic analysis.
A report from the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, said a weak global diamond economy means the NWT’s mining industry is likely to contract significantly in the future.
“The territory’s diamond production has likely passed its peak, as indicated by mining plans issued for Gahcho Kué, Diavik, and Ekati.”
This could result in more than 730 job losses.