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Rare earths expert Alastair Neill on Vital Metals

“Overall Vital appears well on the way to producing commercial quantities of rare earth concentrate, a first in Canada.” — Alastair Neill, President, Critical Minerals Institute

Vital Metals Limited (ASX: VML | OTCQB: VTMXF) is an Australian listed company whose subsidiary, Cheetah Resources, is developing the Nechalacho project in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The deposit was previously owned by Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. (TSX: AVL | OTCQB: AVLNF), and they sold the rights in 2019 to Cheetah for the material 150 meters above sea level. Avalon retained the rights to the basal zone deposit which is underground. The deposit is reported to have 94.7 million tonnes at 1.46% REO (0.1% Nd/Pr cutoff). The mineral hosting the rare earths is bastnaesite, which is good as this mineral has been processing successfully for many years.

Vital raised A$45 million recently through a targeted share placement at A$0.04 per share. According to their press release the funds will be used for:

  • Finalisation of construction activities and undertake commissioning, ramp-up and operations at its Rare Earth Extraction Facility in Saskatoon, which will produce a rare earth carbonate product
  • Accelerated development of Tardiff deposit at Nechalacho, Canada, including mining studies

A strong balance sheet for ongoing working capital requirements

This project is the most advanced rare earth project currently in Canada. The initial focus is the North T zone which has a resource of 101,000 metric tonnes at 9.01% contained Total Rare Earth Oxides (TREO). Based on tests run at their Saskatoon rare earth extraction plant they can get a 75% recovery to produce a 43.7% concentrate. Based on this, the deposit would produce 6,825 metric tonnes of TREO which would contain 1,600 tonnes of Neodymium (Nd) and Praseodymium (Pr).  Tests have been done using X-ray Transmission (XRT) to sort the ore as the ore is hosted in quartz, which is white, and the rare earth mineral which is red. This is a simple way to upgrade the TREO content at site.

There is an offtake agreement with REEtec, a Norwegian company that is developing a new rare earth separation process. The agreement is for Vital to deliver 1,000 tonnes per year (TPY) of TREO (excluding Cerium (Ce)). Based on that Ce will be eliminated before shipping the concentrate to Norway. This is a step that has been done before by Molycorp in the 1980s. It reduces the material handling by 50% and obviously the size of downstream processing equipment. The North T zone will provide 3,400 of the 5,000 tonnes which means Cheetah will have to open the Basal zone to meet the balance of the supply contract.

Looking at today’s prices on Shanghai Metal Market (SMM) the separated value of this contract is over US$286 million. Assuming Vital gets 1/3 of the value for the concentrate this would produce revenues of over US$95 million of which US$92 million would come from Nd/Pr. Details of the agreement are not revealed so REEtec may be a toll arrangement which could produce more revenue for Vital though I expect the initial target would be to sell La, Nd and Pr in Europe as there are customers in Europe.

Interestingly the extraction plant is located beside the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) which has announced that they will be building a rare earth separation facility to process monazite by 2024. SRC has two rare earth experts from China on staff. SRC is also putting in an Nd/Pr metal facility which takes the oxide to the next level in the supply chain.

In addition to the Nechalacho project, Vital has a project in Tanzania called Wigu Hill. Vital has signed a project development and option agreement with Montero Mining & Exploration Ltd. (TSXV: MON), to acquire and develop the Wigu Hill project. The Wigu Hill project is a light rare earth element deposit and consists of a large carbonite complex with bastnaesite mineralization with a NI 43-101 Inferred resource estimate of 3.3Mt at 2.6% light REOs. This is also a bastnaesite mineral.

Overall Vital appears well on the way to producing commercial quantities of rare earth concentrate, a first in Canada. Questions that do need to be answered are what are the costs of operating an open pit mine in Northern Canada and the costs to transport material to Saskatoon.




Global changes coming in the rare earths and critical materials supply chain and EV manufacturing

In this InvestorIntel PDAC 2022 Panel on “Building the Rare Earths and Critical Materials’ Supply Chain to Meet EV Market Demand”, host Byron W King is joined by “all star” guests Ucore Rare Metals Inc.‘s (TSXV: UCU | OTCQX: UURAF) Chairman and CEO Pat Ryan, Vital Metals Limited‘s (ASX: VML | OTCQB: VTMXF) Managing Director Geoff Atkins, Stormcrow Capital Ltd.‘s President and Director Dr. Jonathan Hykawy, and Boyd Davis, Principal of Kingston Process Metallurgy Inc..

In the video, which can also be viewed in full on the InvestorIntel YouTube channel (click here), the panel discusses the race to supply North American rare earths needs and limitations on domestic production. Boyd Davis observes that over the next 10 to 12 years, “how much we want to get away from China will be dictated by the cost and supply security and the ability to get raw materials.” Dr. Jonathan Hykawy discusses China’s own domestic supply issues and how it imports lithium and heavy mineral sands for processing. Geoff Atkins also points out the risk of sole-suppliers with EV and other rare earths reliant manufacturers “needing a diversified supply chain and assessing their risks on single point of failure.” Regardless, he says EV manufacturing represents a shift from basic commodities to high technology materials. He and Pat Ryan of Vital Minerals agree that both North America and China will become increasingly reliant on automation to counter rising labor costs.

The panel also discusses whether critical materials mining permitting and processing is likely to be fast-tracked in future to meet industry demand, and whether there will be more vertical integration by EV manufacturers.

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About Ucore Rare Metals Inc.

Ucore is focused on rare- and critical-metals resources, extraction, beneficiation, and separation technologies with the potential for production, growth, and scalability. Ucore has a 100% ownership stake in the Bokan-Dotson Ridge Rare Earth Element Project in Southeast Alaska, USA. Ucore’s vision and plan is to become a leading advanced technology company, providing best-in-class metal separation products and services to the mining and mineral extraction industry.

Through strategic partnerships, Ucore’s vision includes disrupting the People’s Republic of China’s control of the US REE supply chain through the development of a heavy and light rare-earth processing facility – the Alaska Strategic Metals Complex in Southeast Alaska and the long-term development of Ucore’s heavy-rare-earth-element mineral-resource property located at Bokan Mountain on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.

To learn more about Ucore Rare Metals Inc., click here

About Vital Metals Limited

Vital Metals Limited (ASX: VML) is Canada’s first rare earths producer following commencement of production at its Nechalacho rare earths project in Canada in June 2021. It holds a portfolio of rare earths, technology metals and gold projects located in Canada, Africa and Germany.

To know more about Vital Metals Limited, click here

About Stormcrow Capital Ltd.

Stormcrow Capital Ltd. is an Exempt Market Dealer registered with the Ontario Securities Commission and the Autorité desmarchés financiers (Quebec). Stormcrow has both issuer and investor clients. Stormcrow is also a financial and technical/scientific consultant that provides certain of its clients with some or all of the following services: (i) an assessment of the client’s industry, business plans and operations, market positioning, economic situation and prospects; (ii) certain technical and scientific commentary, analysis and advice that is within the expertise of Stormcrow’s staff; (iii) advice regarding optimization strategies for the client’s business and capital structure; (iv) due diligence investigation services; and (v) opinions regarding the future expected value of the client’s or a offeror/offeree’s equity securities so as to allow the client to then make capital market, capital budgeting and capital structure plans. With the consent of Stormcrow’s issuer client, the client and/or its industry sector may be the subject of an investment or financial research report, newsletter, bulletin or other publication by Stormcrow where such publication is made publicly available at www.stormcrow.ca or elsewhere or is otherwise distributed by Stormcrow. Any such publication is limited to generic, non-tailored advice or opinions and should not be construed as investment advice that is suitable for the reader or recipient. Stormcrow does not offer personalized or tailored investment advice to anyone (other than its current investor clients) and Stormcrow’s research reports should not be relied upon by anyone in making any investment decisions. Rather, investors should speak in person with their personal financial advisor(s) to obtain suitable investment advice.

To learn more about Stormcrow Capital Ltd., click here
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About Kingston Process Metallurgy Inc.

Kingston Process Metallurgy Inc. is a privately owned Canadian company located in Kingston, Ontario. Our interdisciplinary team includes engineers, scientists, chemists, technicians, and modellers, led by co-owners Boyd Davis and Alain Roy. Our clients include large multi-national mining and metallurgical companies, as well as companies specialized in industrial chemistry, advanced materials, and energy.

To learn more about Kingston Process Metallurgy Inc., click here

Disclaimer: Ucore Rare Metals Inc. and Vital Metals Limited are advertorial members of InvestorIntel Corp.

This interview, which was produced by InvestorIntel Corp., (IIC), does not contain, nor does it purport to contain, a summary of all the material information concerning the “Company” being interviewed. IIC offers no representations or warranties that any of the information contained in this interview is accurate or complete.

This presentation may contain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation. Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions and assumptions of the management of the Company as of the date made. They are inherently susceptible to uncertainty and other factors that could cause actual events/results to differ materially from these forward-looking statements. Additional risks and uncertainties, including those that the Company does not know about now or that it currently deems immaterial, may also adversely affect the Company’s business or any investment therein.

Any projections given are principally intended for use as objectives and are not intended, and should not be taken, as assurances that the projected results will be obtained by the Company. The assumptions used may not prove to be accurate and a potential decline in the Company’s financial condition or results of operations may negatively impact the value of its securities. Prospective investors are urged to review the Company’s profile on Sedar.com and to carry out independent investigations in order to determine their interest in investing in the Company.

If you have any questions surrounding the content of this interview, please contact us at +1 416 792 8228 and/or email us direct at info@investorintel.com.




Rare Earths and the Challenges of Building a Domestic EV Material Supply Chain

In this InvestorIntel PDAC 2022 Panel on rare earths and “Building the EV Material Supply Chain”, host Byron W King is joined by Search Minerals Inc.‘s (TSXV: SMY | OTCQB: SHCMF) President, CEO, and Director Greg Andrews, Appia Rare Earths & Uranium Corp.‘s (CSE: API | OTCQX: APAAF) President Frederick Kozak, Avalon Advanced Materials Inc.‘s (TSX: AVL | OTCQB: AVLNF) President, CEO and Director Don Bubar, and Vital Metals Limited‘s (ASX: VML | OTCQB: VTMXF) Managing Director Geoff Atkins.

In the video, which can also be viewed in full on the InvestorIntel YouTube channel (click here), the panel discusses whether there is enough rare earths supply to meet the future demand for electric vehicles. Vital Minerals’ Geoff Atkins talks about the shift from government pressure to move to electric vehicles to increasing consumer demand for EVs, especially outside the United States, and the different processing requirements for EV batteries and rare earths magnet components which make “just in time” supply chain inventory management impossible.

Avalon President Don Bubar notes that China’s rare earths dominance came from how “they saw before anyone in the West how you have to create the downstream manufacturing and processing capacity in order to justify creating the primary supply, and that’s a foreign concept to the traditional mining industry here in Canada.” Greg Andrews agrees that the challenge is “trying to create rare earths industry in Canada that doesn’t exist,” but as Appia president Frederick Kozak points out, the new Saskatchewan rare earths processing facility makes domestic processing more attractive “as opposed to having to ship it to China for processing.”

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About Search Minerals Inc.

Led by a proven management team and board of directors, Search is focused on finding and developing Critical Rare Earths Elements (CREE), Zirconium (Zr) and Hafnium (Hf) resources within the emerging Port Hope Simpson – St. Lewis CREE District of southeast Labrador. The Company controls a belt 63 km long and 2 km wide and is road accessible, on tidewater, and located within 3 local communities. Search has completed a preliminary economic assessment report for FOXTROT, and a resource estimate for DEEP FOX. Search is also working on three exploration prospects along the belt which include: FOX MEADOW, SILVER FOX and AWESOME FOX.

Search has continued to optimize our patented Direct Extraction Process technology with support from the Department of Industry, Energy and Technology, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and from the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency. We have completed two pilot plant operations and produced highly purified mixed rare earth carbonate concentrate and mixed rare earth concentrate for separation and refining. We also recognize the continued support by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for its Junior Exploration Program.

Search Minerals was selected to participate in the Government of Canada Accelerated Growth Service (“AGS”) initiative, which supports high growth companies. AGS, as a ‘one-stop shop’ model, provides Search with coordinated access to Government of Canada resources as Search continues to move quickly to production and contribute to the establishment of a stable and secure rare earth element North American and European supply chain.

To learn more about Search Minerals Inc., click here

About Appia Rare Earths & Uranium Corp.

Appia is a Canadian publicly-listed company in the rare earth element and uranium sectors. The Company is currently focusing on delineating high-grade critical rare earth elements and gallium on the Alces Lake property, as well as exploring for high-grade uranium in the prolific Athabasca Basin on its Otherside, Loranger, North Wollaston, and Eastside properties. The Company holds the surface rights to exploration for 105,026 hectares (259,525 acres) in Saskatchewan. The Company also has a 100% interest in 12,545 hectares (31,000 acres), with rare earth element and uranium deposits over five mineralized zones in the Elliot Lake Camp, Ontario.

To learn more about Appia Rare Earths & Uranium Corp., click here

About Avalon Advanced Materials Inc.

Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. is a Canadian mineral development company specializing in sustainably-produced materials for clean technology. The Company now has four advanced stage projects, providing investors with exposure to lithium, tin and indium, as well as rare earth elements, tantalum, cesium and zirconium. Avalon is currently focusing on developing its Separation Rapids Lithium Project near Kenora, Ontario while continuing to advance other projects, including its 100%-owned Lilypad Cesium-Tantalum-Lithium Project located near Fort Hope, Ontario. Social responsibility and environmental stewardship are corporate cornerstones.

To learn more about Avalon Advanced Materials Inc., click here

About Vital Metals Limited

Vital Metals Limited (ASX: VML) is Canada’s first rare earths producer following commencement of production at its Nechalacho rare earths project in Canada in June 2021. It holds a portfolio of rare earths, technology metals and gold projects located in Canada, Africa and Germany.

To know more about Vital Metals Limited, click here

Disclaimer: Search Minerals Inc., Appia Rare Earths & Uranium Corp., Avalon Advanced Materials Inc., and Vital Metals Limited are advertorial members of InvestorIntel Corp.

This interview, which was produced by InvestorIntel Corp., (IIC), does not contain, nor does it purport to contain, a summary of all the material information concerning the “Company” being interviewed. IIC offers no representations or warranties that any of the information contained in this interview is accurate or complete.

This presentation may contain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation. Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions and assumptions of the management of the Company as of the date made. They are inherently susceptible to uncertainty and other factors that could cause actual events/results to differ materially from these forward-looking statements. Additional risks and uncertainties, including those that the Company does not know about now or that it currently deems immaterial, may also adversely affect the Company’s business or any investment therein.

Any projections given are principally intended for use as objectives and are not intended, and should not be taken, as assurances that the projected results will be obtained by the Company. The assumptions used may not prove to be accurate and a potential decline in the Company’s financial condition or results of operations may negatively impact the value of its securities. Prospective investors are urged to review the Company’s profile on Sedar.com and to carry out independent investigations in order to determine their interest in investing in the Company.

If you have any questions surrounding the content of this interview, please contact us at +1 416 792 8228 and/or email us direct at info@investorintel.com.




InvestorIntel is digging for stories at PDAC 2022

PDAC 2022 is underway, and InvestorIntel is one of the media sponsors at the world’s largest mining and exploration convention. We are busy looking for new stories and meeting old friends at the first in-person PDAC since 2020.

Monday through Wednesday (June 13-15), InvestorIntel is conducting exclusive interviews with industry leaders, presidents and CEOs of some of the most interesting silver, gold, rare earths, uranium and other critical materials companies.

On Monday our first panel was Rare Earths, Sustainability & Meeting the EV Market Demand hosted by InvestorIntel CEO and Founder Tracy Weslosky with panelists Mark Chalmers, President and CEO of Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU | TSX: EFR) and Constantine Karayannopoulos, President, CEO and Director of Neo Performance Materials Inc. (TSX: NEO).

Our next panel discussion was hosted by Chris Thompson of eResearch on Silver, The Technology Metal & Market with Byron W. King, InvestorIntel columnist, Bald Eagle Gold Corp.‘s (TSXV: BIG) CEO Chris Paul, Silver Bullet Mines Corp.‘s (TSXV: SBMI) VP Capital Markets and Director Peter Clausi, and Simon Ridgway, Founder, Director, President and CEO of Volcanic Gold Mines Inc. (TSXV: VG).

To finish off Monday’s schedule, InvestorIntel columnist and renowned critical materials expert Byron W. King, led a panel discussion on Building the EV Material Supply Chain with Appia Rare Earths & Uranium Corp.‘s (CSE: API | OTCQB: APAAF) President Frederick Kozak, Search Minerals Inc.‘s (TSXV: SMY | OTCQB: SHCMF) President, CEO, and Director Greg Andrews, Avalon Advanced Materials Inc.’s (TSX: AVL | OTCQB: AVLNF) President, CEO and Director, Don Bubar, and Vital Metals Limited‘s (ASX: VML | OTCQB: VTMXF) Managing Director, Geoff Atkins.

If you are at PDAC, be sure to visit the InvestorIntel media studio on Level 700.




Geoff Atkins talks about Vital Metals’ transitional year from developer to producer in 2022

In this InvestorIntel interview with host Tracy Weslosky, Vital Metals Limited‘s (ASX: VML | OTCQB: VTMXF) Managing Director Geoff Atkins talks about the company moving from rare earths miner to producer in the coming months.

In the interview, which can also be viewed in full on the InvestorIntel YouTube channel (click here), Geoff talks about production from Vital’s Nechalacho rare earths project in the Northwest Territories going to its Saskatoon extraction plant, with production of high purity rare earth carbonate forecast to commence in June 2022, and its rare earths product to be sold to Vital’s take off partner in Norway later this year. Geoff goes in to explain, for Vital “this year is that transformational process from developer through to operator.”

Being an Australian company with both its cornerstone project and processing facility in North America, Geoff also discusses increasing the company’s presence in the North American markets in the coming months as it moves to producer.

Don’t miss other InvestorIntel interviews. Subscribe to the InvestorIntel YouTube channel by clicking here.

About Vital Metals Limited

Vital Metals Limited (ASX: VML) is Canada’s first rare earths producer following commencement of production at its Nechalacho rare earths project in Canada in June 2021. It holds a portfolio of rare earths, technology metals and gold projects located in Canada, Africa and Germany.

To know more about Vital Metals Limited, click here

Disclaimer: Vital Metals Limited is an advertorial member of InvestorIntel Corp.

This interview, which was produced by InvestorIntel Corp., (IIC), does not contain, nor does it purport to contain, a summary of all the material information concerning the “Company” being interviewed. IIC offers no representations or warranties that any of the information contained in this interview is accurate or complete.

This presentation may contain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation. Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions and assumptions of the management of the Company as of the date made. They are inherently susceptible to uncertainty and other factors that could cause actual events/results to differ materially from these forward-looking statements. Additional risks and uncertainties, including those that the Company does not know about now or that it currently deems immaterial, may also adversely affect the Company’s business or any investment therein.

Any projections given are principally intended for use as objectives and are not intended, and should not be taken, as assurances that the projected results will be obtained by the Company. The assumptions used may not prove to be accurate and a potential decline in the Company’s financial condition or results of operations may negatively impact the value of its securities. Prospective investors are urged to review the Company’s profile on Sedar.com and to carry out independent investigations in order to determine their interest in investing in the Company.

If you have any questions surrounding the content of this interview, please contact us at +1 416 792 8228 and/or email us direct at info@investorintel.com.




June 2022 start for Vital Metals to produce mixed rare earth carbonates with feed from its own mines

The rare earths sector has been doing very well lately, especially the highly valued magnet rare earths for which prices have doubled over the past year. Neodymium (Nd) and praseodymium (Pr) are the key magnet rare earths used commonly in electric motors. They also fall into the category of the ‘light rare earths’. Another group of rare earths, known as the ‘heavy rare earths‘, also have value. They include europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium and yttrium. Dysprosium (Dy) in particular is very valuable and is critically necessary for and used in alloys for neodymium based magnets subject to high temperature swings in operation.

Today’s company is working towards becoming a North American producer of both light and heavy rare earths.

Vital Metals Limited (ASX: VML | OTCQB: VTMXF) (Vital) is a rare earths ore producer from their Nechalacho Rare Earths Mine in the Northwest Territories (NWT), Canada. Nechalacho has a measured, indicated and inferred resource of 94.7Mt at 1.46% REO for 1.3Mt contained TREO. The focus to date has been on the high-grade, light rare earths, found in the bastnaesite mineralization there.

Vital has off-take agreements with REEtec in Norway and with Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSXV: UCU | OTCQX: UURAF) in the USA. In both cases, Vital is working with them to develop a qualified feed stock for them end at commercial scale. In some good recent news, offtake buyer, REEtec,  signed a supply agreement with Germany’s large OEM automotive supplier,Schaeffler, thereby potentially securing Vital’s revenue from the sale of its product to REEtec.

Vital is currently constructing a Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, based cracking and leaching facility, with first feed to the facility expected in June 2022. An additional C$5 million of funding/reimbursement was recently achieved to help support the commissioning and ramp-up stage. Vital aims to produce a minimum of 5,000 tons annually of contained REO by 2025 at the Nechalacho Mine.

Vital Metals’ Managing Director Geoff Atkins stated: “With production forecast to commence in June 2022, this will make Vital North America’s only producer of high purity rare earth carbonate with feed from its own mines providing security of supply for the global rare earths supply chain.”

Expansion into heavy rare earths

As announced on April 29, 2022, Vital is now planning to expand their existing light rare earths mine operation to also include heavy rare earths. Vital plans to investigate developing a zone of xenotime mineralization, the principle heavy rare earth hard-rock mineral, at Nechalacho’s North T pit, targeting a 10-year operation from the zone.  Xenotime,  is an yttrium phosphate mineral, and is the only known commercially feasible hard-rock source of dysprosium and terbium, which are the critical magnet rare earth additives for high temperature operations. As Vital stated: “Tardiff contains elevated heavy rare earths mineralization which may complement North T’s xenotime deposit as part of Vital’s strategy to produce heavy and light rare earths.”

Next steps

In 2022, in addition to commencing production at the Saskatoon facility and working on expanding into heavy rare earths, Vital plans further drilling at the Tardiff zone to define a maiden Ore Reserve. 

Vital Metals 3 stage strategy to become a North American producer of both light & heavy rare earths

Source: Vital Metals March 2022 quarterly report

Closing remarks

Vital Metals continues to march forward at a rapid pace. In late June 2021 the Nechalacho mine came into production, notably being Canada’s first-ever producing rare earths mine. Then only a year later in June 2022, the Saskatoon cracking and leaching facility’s first production of a mixed rare earth carbonate is set to commence.

If that wasn’t good enough the Company is now planning to also produce heavy rare earths, also from the Nechalacho Mine. Once achieved Vital announced that they would become the “the world’s first producer of both heavy and light rare earth oxides.”

Vital Metals trades on a market cap of A$204 million. Exciting times ahead.




Hunting the big North American rare earths elephant

“Amazing discovery… I keep making this point that there is a deficit of rare earths worldwide and Appia is the premier rare earths discovery in North America.” — Jack Lifton, Global Critical Materials Expert

A mineral discovery is the natural occurrence of a specific chemical compound or a mix of chemical compounds, which may be processed mechanically and chemically to isolate one or more forms of individual chemical elements, and then be purified and converted into useful forms for industrial use. If the discovery is extensive enough and the contained chemical compounds are of a sufficiently high enough grade for efficient and economical separation of them from each other and then can be further processed into forms that can be utilized industrially, then the large-scale production and concentration of the initial mineral concentrate is called mining.

How do you evaluate a rare earth discovery? The best way is to determine if it contains “valuable” rare earth elements, which can be economically and efficiently recovered in the jurisdiction in which it is located, in such quantities that the capital expended can be recovered at a profit.

The old-timers (aka, experienced exploration geologists and mining engineers) have just two simple metrics they use in first determining whether or not there is any point in answering this question: Grade and accessible tonnage.

Appia Rare Earths & Uranium Corp.‘s (CSE: API | OTCQB: APAAF) rare earth discovery at Alces Lake, Saskatchewan, meets the first of the above requirements, and the company is now in the process of a comprehensive drill program to determine if the second one is met as well.

The Appia discovery is of the mixed rare earth mineral, monazite, the most desirable rare earth bearing mineral on the planet. Monazite was the original rare earth mineral mined commercially in the late nineteenth century, not for rare earths, but for its contained thorium, which was heated, as an oxide in the form of a mixed ceramic mantle, with natural gas, to produce a brilliant white light for illuminating the stage in theatrical performances. Monazite fell out of favor as a mineral resource after World War II because of thorium’s natural radioactivity being highlighted as a danger in the early atomic age. Of course, electric lights, had by then long eclipsed the need for thorium.

In the 1950s though, thorium again became of interest when it was discovered that nuclear reactors for the commercial production of electricity could be fueled with thorium, which could not easily be used to make nuclear weapons. Anglo-American Mining in that period discovered the highest-grade thorium and rare earths deposit then known in the world in South Africa and began producing thorium for the UK’s civilian nuclear reactor program. Thorium reactors fell out of favor by the mid 1960s and thorium (monazite) mines were shut down, even though they were associated with high grade rare earths, because of the problems of disposing of the thorium and the then extremely expensive processes for separating the rare earths from each other, ion exchange, and fractional crystallization.

The discovery of a huge primary, accessible, mineable deposit of the rare earth mineral bastnaesite at Mountain Pass, California, in the late 1940s, and the development in the 1960s of the commercial application of solvent extraction to the separation of the rare earths, led to the eclipse of the use of high thorium monazites by bastnaesite as the primary mineral for rare earth mining.

The development of the rare earth permanent magnet in the late 1970s, at first using the rare earth element, samarium, and the rare earth elements neodymium and praseodymium, revived interest in monazite, because monazite contains 50% more, by weight, of neodymium and praseodymium, than bastnaesite.

However, the low thorium bastnaesite in California, because of its accessibility, became the world’s largest source of the magnetic rare earths, samarium , neodymium and praseodymium by the early 1980s. It was eclipsed by the bastnaesite recovered, more economically, as a byproduct of  iron mining in China’s Inner Mongolia by the late 1980s. The Chinese iron deposits also contained some monazite, and this was processed there also to recover the rare earths. The thorium co-produced was stored, but its radioactivity ultimately led China to bring its control under the aegis of its China Nuclear Corporation (CNC), which stored it along with any other thorium produced as a byproduct of rare earths or its own uranium minerals processing.

Today, as Chinese bastnaesite grades seem to have declined from high grading and as pollution (environmental) consciousness has come of age in China, monazite, as a source of magnetic rare earths has revived dramatically in China. And China has become the world’s largest processor of monazite. Chinese mining and processing companies already import nearly 40% of their rare earth ore needs annually. They get bastnaesite from California and CNC is licensed to process up to 5o,ooo tons per year of monazites containing up to 30,000 tons of rare earths. All monazite imported into China must first go to CNC for thorium and uranium removal, before it goes to the Chinese purchaser, which will then recover the rare earths contained. China buys monazites as ore concentrates from the USA (until very recently), Brazil, Madagascar, Australia, and Myanmar, and Chinese companies are scouring the world seeking more.

The Chinese had the use of monazites as a source of magnetic rare earths to themselves until 2017, when Australia’s Lynas Rare Earths (ASX: LYC) went into commercial production and separation of the individual rare earths from its massive monazite mine at Mt. Weld, Australia. Then. in 2020, the only privately owned licensed uranium ore processor and thorium storage facility in the USA, Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU | TSX: EFR), began a project to process monazite for its rare earths and to stockpile and sell the uranium recovered and store the thorium. Energy Fuels is and remains the sole such facility in the Americas. Its business plan is to become vertically integrated by building, on-site, a separation facility, and a rare earth metals and alloys operation also.

Energy Fuels has acquired domestically produced American monazite from the heavy mineral sands operations of The Chemours Company, and is actively seeking additional materials both domestically and internationally. Energy Fuels has already produced and sold commercial quantities of mixed rare earth carbonates cleaned of uranium and thorium.

Now, at last, we come to Appia and Canada’s entry into the rare earths’ mining and processing arena.

Australia’s Vital Metals Limited (ASX: VML | OTCQB: VTMXF) is now mining bastnaesite just outside of Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territory from a high-grade deposit discovered by Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. (TSX: AVL | OTCQB: AVLNF) and licensed to Vital. The ore concentrate will be first sent to an operation being built by the Saskatchewan Resource Council (SRC), a Crown Corporation, where the uranium and thorium will be removed and a mixed rare earth carbonate produced for use in further downstream processing. The first such production has already been pre-sold to both American and European processing customers.

But the SRC has plans to construct not only a cracking, leaching, and radioactive recovery and storage system (Saskatchewan is Canada’s largest uranium mining and processing province, so the business there is well established and understood), but also a rare earths separation system in the form of a dedicated solvent extraction facility, the first of its kind in Canada.

Now we come to Appia Rare Earths & Uranium Corp., a Canadian company, originally exploring for uranium in Saskatchewan’s world-famous Athabasca Basin. About 5 years ago its then geologist discovered a dramatically high-grade sample of monazite on the company’s Alces Lake Property in Saskatchewan. He soon found that the sample had come from an outcrop showing extensive monazite veining. He continued to explore the area and predicted that the monazite field was extensive.  Analysis of samples he took showed that it was also the highest grade neodymium rich monazite ever found in North America.

I was a speaker that year at a Metal Events’ Rare Earth Conference in Henderson, Nevada, and the Appia geologist, James Sykes, was an attendee. I had never met him, but we shared a cab to the airport, and he excitedly told me the Alces lake, monazite, story. I was intrigued, but I had reservations about the thorium and uranium that would be present in such a high-grade material. I thought of the highest grade rare earths deposit ever worked, Steencompskraal, in South Africa, which was actually worked as a thorium mine with no interest (in the 196os) in the rare earths contained. I didn’t then know of the monazite project in China or CNC’s role in it. I listened politely to Mr Sykes and wondered what anyone would do with this discovery if it were confirmed to be extensive enough to qualify as a NI 43-101 resource.

Did I mention that James Sykes also said that he believed the extended discovery to be near surface, so that a quarrying operation would obviate the need for underground operations?

It is now the Spring of 2022, and Appia has raised approximately $15.5 million in the last year. This funding is for a drilling program which is underway to prove a resource.

Energy Fuels is processing monazite, the Saskatchewan Resource Council has approved $31 million to acquire monazite, and other rare earth ore concentrates, and build a first of its kind in Canada cracking and leaching and separation facility dedicated to rare earths, and Canada’s Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSXV: UCU | OTCQX: UURAF) has begun construction of a Strategic Metals Center in Alaska for the central processing of critical metals, beginning with rare earth mixed carbonates from a variety of sources including Canadian and Australian monazites.

Appia’s drilling results so far are very encouraging, and have been extensively reported.

I think we may see the highest grade neodymium-rich monazite in the America’s flow from Alces lake before 2025. If so, It will certainly be in high demand.

Did I mention that the Appia monazite discovery contains 1% of xenotime, the hard rock mineral source of yttrium, dysprosium, and terbium? A one-stop-shop for magnet makers?

The stars and this planet are coming into alignment for this one. Monazite is back.

Disclosure: Jack Lifton is a member of Appia Rare Earths & Uranium Corp.’s Advisory Board and  the Advisory Board for Energy Fuels Inc., and may hold securities or options in some of the companies mentioned in the above article.




Geoff Atkins discusses exceeding expectations in Vital Metals’ output of rare earths with Peter Clausi

In a recent InvestorIntel interview, Peter Clausi spoke with Geoff Atkins, Managing Director of Vital Metals Limited (ASX: VML) about Vital Metals’ recent news release on redesigning the North T Pit at Vital’s Nechalacho Rare Earths Mine after the ore sorter exceeded expectations.

In this InvestorIntel interview, which may also be viewed on YouTube (click here to subscribe to the InvestorIntel Channel), Geoff Atkins went on to say that Vital Metals’ Nechalacho ore sorter is now able to sort even lower grade materials allowing Vital to process significant quantities of material previously identified as waste. He went on to explain the unique nature of mineralization at the North T Deposit allowing Vital to classify ore and waste visually without having to send materials to a lab for assaying.

To watch the full interview, click here.

About Vital Metals Limited

Vital Metals Limited is Canada’s first rare earths producer following commencement of production at its Nechalacho rare earths project in Canada in June 2021. It holds a portfolio of rare earths, technology metals and gold projects located in Canada, Africa and Germany.

Nechalacho Rare Earth Project – Canada

The Nechalacho project is a high grade, light rare earth (bastnaesite) project located at Nechalacho in the Northwest Territories of Canada and has potential for a start-up operation exploiting high-grade, easily accessible near surface mineralisation. The Nechalacho Rare Earth Project hosts within the Upper Zone, a JORC Resource of 94.7MT at 1.46% TREO comprised of a Measured Resource of 2.9MT at 1.47% TREO, an Indicated Resource of 14.7MT at 1.5% TREO, and an Inferred Resource of 77.1MT at 1.46% TREO.

To learn more about Vital Metals Limited, click here

Disclaimer: Vital Metals Limited is an advertorial member of InvestorIntel Corp.

This interview, which was produced by InvestorIntel Corp., (IIC), does not contain, nor does it purport to contain, a summary of all the material information concerning the “Company” being interviewed. IIC offers no representations or warranties that any of the information contained in this interview is accurate or complete.

This presentation may contain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation. Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions and assumptions of the management of the Company as of the date made. They are inherently susceptible to uncertainty and other factors that could cause actual events/results to differ materially from these forward-looking statements. Additional risks and uncertainties, including those that the Company does not know about now or that it currently deems immaterial, may also adversely affect the Company’s business or any investment therein.

Any projections given are principally intended for use as objectives and are not intended, and should not be taken, as assurances that the projected results will be obtained by the Company. The assumptions used may not prove to be accurate and a potential decline in the Company’s financial condition or results of operations may negatively impact the value of its securities. Prospective investors are urged to review the Company’s profile on Sedar.com and to carry out independent investigations in order to determine their interest in investing in the Company.

If you have any questions surrounding the content of this interview, please contact us at +1 416 792 8228 and/or email us direct at info@investorintel.com.




Rare earths ore production continues to ramp up at Vital Metals’ Nechalacho Mine

In the rare earths’ business junior miners need to work with off-take partners to find and meet very strict product qualification requirements. These are specialty products, especially when it comes to the high value magnet rare earths used in electric motors for electric vehicles (EV). All of this takes time.

What this means for investors is that it is wise to first check a rare earths junior’s partnerships and off-take relationships before investing. This is because the off-take partners will be very selective as they need a high spec product (low impurity, etc) and those juniors that have succeeded in securing off-take agreements are well on their way to success. The juniors still have to successfully ramp up their production of the ‘at spec material’, but if successful can then fully qualify their product and hence stand the best chance at progressing to larger scale production. The process can take years not months.

One company doing the above is Vital Metals Limited (ASX: VML) (Vital). Vital has an off-take agreement with REEtec in Norway and another with Ucore in the USA. In both cases, Vital is working with them to develop a qualified end product at commercial scale that can then be sold to end-use customers.

Rare earths ore production continues to ramp up at Vital’s Nechalacho Mine

Vital is already mining (lifting, crushing and sorting ore are performing well) at its Nechalacho’ Mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories (NWT). The Nechalacho Mine is a high grade, light rare earth (bastnaesite) project with a world class resource of 94.7Mt at 1.46% REO (M& I, and Inferred). Nechalacho’s North T Zone hosts a high-grade resource of 101,000 tons at 9.01% LREO (2.2% NdPr) and is where mining from a starter pit began in 2021 (Stage 1). Stage 2 will involve the development of the much larger Tardiff deposit.

Further ore processing is to be done at Vital’s, under construction, Saskatoon cracking and leaching facility once completed, with first product expected by June 2022. Vital aims to produce a minimum of 5,000 tons of contained REO by 2025 from the Nechalacho Mine.

Construction is underway on Vital’s rare earth extraction facility in Saskatoon. Dense Media Separator (right) to be used in the extraction process

Source: Vital Metals September 2021 Quarterly Report

Vital states: “More than $120 million has been spent by previous owners on drilling, permitting and project development at Nechalacho, which includes a 40-person camp and airstrip. Vital aims to be the largest independent supplier of clean mixed rare earth feedstock outside China.”

Vital’s off-take agreements

  • Vital has a binding off-take agreement with Norwegian company REEtec for Stage 1 production with the supply of 1,000t REO (ex-Cerium)/yr for an initial five-year period. This was later increased to rare earth carbonate product containing a minimum of 750t NdPr, contained within 2,000t/year total rare earth oxides (TREO) with a maximum of 25% cerium. The amended agreement extends Vital’s product sales to REEtec to 2028 and provides the option to further expand operations during an additional 10 year long term supply agreement to provide up to 2,500t NdPr per annum contained within ~6,800 tonnes TREO (containing a maximum 25% cerium). It also means that the increase to 2,000t/year equates to 75% of Vital’s expanded Saskatoon plant capacity.
  • Non-binding MOU with Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSXV: UCU | OTCQX: UURAF) to sell to Ucore a minimum of 500t REO (ex-cerium)/year, commencing H1 2024. Vital to expand production to support a minimum of 50% of Ucore’s envisioned 5,000t TREO/yr processing capability (ie: 2,500t TREO/yr) by 2026. Customer acceptance protocols will include the supply of a sample (1-2kg) in Q4 2021 and with a 1t sample supplied in H2 2022.

The reason for the small initial volumes is that it allows both parties to scale together. As I discussed in the opening paragraphs, it takes time for miners to scale production of a high spec qualified rare earths product and for off-takers to go through their acceptance testing. The positive for Vital is that the process has begun with their two off-take partners, and a pathway towards full production and sale has been mapped out.

Vital Metal’s other projects

Vital is acquiring the Zeus heavy rare earth project and 68% of the Kipawa Project in Canada, from Quebec Precious Metals Corporation, for C$8 million, payable over 4 years. Vital also owns a second light rare earths project in Tanzania.

Vital states: “These projects have the potential to complement our light rare earths operations at Nechalacho and transform Vital into the only North American producer of both light and heavy rare earths.

Closing remarks

Vital Metals is the first commercial scale rare earths producer in Canada and only the second in North America, since rare earth mining was revived earlier in this century. Production began on a small scale in mid 2021 with ore crushing and sorting at the Nechalacho’ Mine in NWT, Canada. Further ore processing will begin to produce product from June 2022 from Vital’s Saskatoon cracking and leaching facility.

Off-take qualification of a scaled up rare earths’ product is ongoing with REEtec in Norway and with Ucore in the USA, but it can take up to 2 years. Vital will grow its production as its customers accept more qualified product. In other words, scale production with your customer, thereby being capital efficient in terms of Vital’s capital outlay.

The pieces of the puzzle are all in place for Vital Metals to build a significant rare earths operation. Investors with a little patience should potentially be well rewarded this decade as demand for rare earths takes off.

Vital Metals trades on a market cap of A$204 million.




Jack Lifton, Byron King and Vital Metals’ Geoff Atkins on the global rare earths market

In this episode of the Critical Minerals Corner, Critical Materials’ industry expert and InvestorIntel Editor-in-Chief Jack Lifton is joined by Critical Minerals Corner Co-Host & InvestorIntel Columnist Byron King, and Geoff Atkins, Managing Director of Vital Metals Limited (ASX: VML) to discuss how Vital Metals plans to guarantee feedstock to the non-Chinese rare earths supply chain and about how a rare earths project is different from any other mining project.

In this InvestorIntel interview, which may also be viewed on YouTube (click here to subscribe to the InvestorIntel Channel), the panel discussed the high grades of neodymium and praseodymium found at Vital Metals’ Nechalacho Rare Earths Project in Canada. With a growing push from the governments globally to establish rare earths supply chains outside of China, Geoff provided an update on Vital’s off-take agreements signed with new separation facilities entering Europe and North America.

To watch the full interview, click here.

About Vital Metals Limited

Vital Metals Limited is Canada’s first rare earths producer following commencement of production at its Nechalacho rare earths project in Canada in June 2021. It holds a portfolio of rare earths, technology metals and gold projects located in Canada, Africa and Germany.

Nechalacho Rare Earth Project – Canada

The Nechalacho project is a high grade, light rare earth (bastnaesite) project located at Nechalacho in the Northwest Territories of Canada and has potential for a start-up operation exploiting high-grade, easily accessible near surface mineralisation. The Nechalacho Rare Earth Project hosts within the Upper Zone, a JORC Resource of 94.7MT at 1.46% TREO comprised of a Measured Resource of 2.9MT at 1.47% TREO, an Indicated Resource of 14.7MT at 1.5% TREO, and an Inferred Resource of 77.1MT at 1.46% TREO.

To learn more about Vital Metals Limited, click here

Disclaimer: Vital Metals Limited is an advertorial member of InvestorIntel Corp.

This interview, which was produced by InvestorIntel Corp., (IIC), does not contain, nor does it purport to contain, a summary of all the material information concerning the “Company” being interviewed. IIC offers no representations or warranties that any of the information contained in this interview is accurate or complete.

This presentation may contain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation. Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions and assumptions of the management of the Company as of the date made. They are inherently susceptible to uncertainty and other factors that could cause actual events/results to differ materially from these forward-looking statements. Additional risks and uncertainties, including those that the Company does not know about now or that it currently deems immaterial, may also adversely affect the Company’s business or any investment therein.

Any projections given are principally intended for use as objectives and are not intended, and should not be taken, as assurances that the projected results will be obtained by the Company. The assumptions used may not prove to be accurate and a potential decline in the Company’s financial condition or results of operations may negatively impact the value of its securities. Prospective investors are urged to review the Company’s profile on Sedar.com and to carry out independent investigations in order to determine their interest in investing in the Company.

If you have any questions surrounding the content of this interview, please contact us at +1 416 792 8228 and/or email us direct at info@investorintel.com.