Australia’s Vital Metals (ASX: VML), the first rare earths (REE) producer in Canada, is buying Quebec Precious Metals Corp.’s (TSX-V: QPM) Zeus project and a 68% stake in the junior’s Kipawa heavy rare earths asset for C$8 million ($6.4m).
Under the deal, Vital will pay the total to QPM in six installments as it reaches certain milestones.
The first C$150,000 has already been transferred and the second C$2.35 million will be paid when the projects are formally acquired. Vital will transfer the remaining sum over the next four anniversaries of acquiring the assets.
Shares soared on the news reaching as much as A$0.072 in early trading to close up almost 10% at A$0.067. The stock has climbed 22% in the last week and an eye-popping 308% in the past year.
The company had announced on Monday that was actively seeking to expand into US capital markets through an agreement with Tectonic, the consulting and advisory service arm of Ecoban Securities Corporation.
Top producer in North America
The Zeus and Kipawa heavy rare earths projects are set to complement Vital’s light rare earth operations at its Nechalacho rare earths mine in in Canada’s Northwest Territories.
The Kipawa Project, in particular, has a proven and probable reserve estimate of 19.8 million tonnes at 0.411% TREO. The project is defined by three enriched horizons within one complex which contains light rare earth oxides but primarily heavy rare earth oxides.
Zeus contains 12 heavy rare earths including niobium and tantalum.
“The potential to develop the Kipawa project will allow us to produce a full suite of rare earths. It has the potential to increase our position as a strategic player in the North American critical minerals supply chain at a time where demand continues to grow,” Vital Metals managing director Geoff Atkins said in the statement.
“In addition, Kipawa is the only rare earth project in the world in which Toyota directly invested, with an initial stake of 49% which was converted to a 10% NPI in 2014,” he noted.
Vital acquisitions come as the company has started ramping up production at its Nechalacho mine. This made it North America’s second producer of the elements used in magnets for electric vehicles, aerospace, defence and electronics, after California’s Mountain Pass mine.
Atkins noted that today’s deals were an ideal opportunity to cement Vital’s place as a leading rare earths producer not just in North America, but globally.