Vital Metals Limited (ASX: VML) has begun rare earth production at its Nechalacho project in the northwest territories of Canada.
The company is now the first rare earth producer in Canada and the second in North America, besides California’s Mountain Pass mine.
“Mining activities are over 30% complete with waste material removed from the pit to enable the first blast of ore on 28 June and we are now stockpiling ore for the crusher,” said Vital Metals’ managing director Geoff Atkins.
Currently, China owns as much as 80% of the global processing capacity for rare earths
“We will continue to ramp up crushing and ore sorting with full production rates expected to be achieved in July. Beneficiated material will be stockpiled for transport to our extraction plant in Saskatoon.”
According to the company, Nechalacho, located 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).
Vital’s stock was up nearly 4% on the ASX Tuesday morning. The company has a $169 million market capitalization.
A report of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources presented before the House of Commons last week rang the alarm bell on how important it is for Canada to secure a supply of critical minerals, particularly in the face of China’s dominance.
Currently, the Asian giant owns as much as 80% of the global processing capacity for rare earths, as it has been investing for decades in acquiring strategic mineral assets across the world, and — according to data gathered by the committee — it is likely to hold about 67% of the global capacity to build lithium-ion batteries by 2030.