Vital Metals says it has agreed multiple development and supply contracts that will assist it in rapidly becoming North America’s next rare earth mining company.
The ASX listed company’s Cheetah subsidiary has signed preferred mining contractor and ice-road construction contracts for its Nechalacho rare earth project, in the Northwest Territories of Canada, with Det’on Cho Nahanni Construction and Aurora Telecom Services, respectively. These contracts allow for the mobilisation of plant and equipment to site over the winter to enable site establishment works to be completed in preparation for operations to commence in 2020.
In addition to this, it has also issued a purchase order to acquire COM Tertiary X-ray Transmission (XRT) 1220/B ore sorting equipment from TOMRA Sorting Inc for C$1.4 million ($1.07 million).
All three of these moves follow close on the heels of the delivery of a 95 Mt JORC-compliant resource at Nechalacho and positive concentration and hydrometallurgy test work.
Vital Metals Managing Director, Geoff Atkins, said: “The signing of these agreements marks an important milestone in the development of the Nechalacho rare earth project as they provide the foundations for enabling Vital Metals to become a producer of rare earths in 2020 through the processing of material from the North T zone. These contracts and agreements also provide prospective customers with a far greater level of confidence in potential delivery dates to progress offtake negotiations.
“Further, by confirming the use of sensor-based ore sorting technology to produce a concentrate, it will remove the requirement for traditional reagents, process water and tailing facilities used in typical ore beneficiation.”
The decision to acquire the TOMRA ore sorter follows excellent results achieved from the recently completed ore sorting test work that produced a high grade (+35%) concentrate, Vital Metals said.
The COM Tertiary XRT 1220/B ore sorter is the same machine used in test work to produce the high-grade product, it said. The purchase order includes supply, installation, commissioning and spare parts, with delivery of the sorter to Yellowknife scheduled for June 2020.
“The ore sorting test work highlighted that the Nechalacho REO project is one of the few and the first REO project to successfully use ore sorting to produce a high grade +35% REO concentrate without the use of reagents and water,” the company said. “This will substantially reduce the cost and the lead time to bring the Necalacho REO project into production.”