The Nechalacho Rare Earth Metals Project has received federal funding to purchase a new ore sorter, as the mine ramps up operations. The $5 million deal is part of the demonstration project, with Cheetah Resources building towards future stages of mining.
Vital Metals’ Managing Director Geoff Atkins said the new radar based ore sorter, which doesn’t use water to filter out the ore as most sorters do, will have a lower environmental impact because it won’t produce wastewater or waste rock.
“It has been extremely busy at Nechalacho during May as we make final preparations ahead of commencing ore sorting in June,” Atkins said in a statement. “With mining underway, we are focused on ensuring the ore sorter is installed and commissioned for operation.”
Earlier this week, Cheetah Resources, the company operating the mine, said they had received approval from REEtecAs for an ore sample they provided.
REEtecAs is a Norwegian company that will process the rare earth metal ore mined at Nechalacho, which has been lined up to purchase $5 million worth of ore.
Cheetah Resource’s vice-president David Connelly said REETecAs has already expressed interest in the next stage of the project, saying they would want five times as much ore as they’ve already signed a contract for.
“There’s a multi-generational source of rare earth elements,” said Connelly. “What we mine will be driven more by what demand is and not limited by what the supply is. So, the limiting factor is demand, not the supply of available mining finds.”
Connelly said there is “absolutely no doubt” that the second stage of mining would be happening.
He adds Nechalacho is on track to become Canada’s first and North America’s second rare earth producer.
Atkins said the priority moving forward is getting the sorter installed so production can progress.