Vital Metals Limited (ASX: VML) has announced the production of a rare earth carbonate sample within specification at its Nechalacho Project in the North West Territories in Canada.
The company said that the rare earth carbonate sample satisfied target impurity levels agreed with REEtec. VML said that the process flowsheet was signed off following results from carbonate production testwork.
Vital Metals said that continuous bulk customer sample production program continues as part of the product qualification program for REEtec and other potential customers.
VML said that the production of Rare Earths is on target for CY2021 at Nechalacho Project to make Vital the second only producer of REE in North America. The company announced that the drilling is underway to define mine plan for Stage 2 operations at Nechalacho to build a larger scale, long-life rare earths project.
Production of rare earth carbonate
Vital Metals had recently announced the successful production of rare earth carbonate which satisfied REEtec’s impurity specifications.
The company said that the combinations of ore-sorting, DMS, and Wilfley table operations produced a beneficiated product in accordance with expectations with rare earth grades in excess of 40% REO.
Vital said that this product was combined prior to being processed through a kiln in preparation for the final leaching and precipitation program. The company said that Nechalacho ore remained free flowing during kiln operations which are highly desired to reduce potential production bottlenecks which have struck other rare earth operations.
The company said that the production of the sample follows Vital’s execution of a definitive agreement with Norwegian rare earth separation company REEtec AS earlier this month and continues Vital’s progress towards rare earth production in CY2021.
Following the successful production of rare earth carbonate, Vital commenced a bulk customer sample production program.
Process flowsheet signed off
Vital was working with REEtec to finalise the rare earth carbonate specification and associated process flowsheet which will minimise the combined Vital and REEtec operating costs for the production of separated rare earth oxides.
The company said that the process flowsheet was signed off following results from carbonate production testwork.
Bulk customer sample production program
The company reported that the bulk customer sample production program was commenced to generate sufficient quantities of rare earth carbonate to provide to REEtec, and other prospective customers, as part of the customer qualification process.
Production from next month
The company announced that the output from the successful calcination program is currently undergoing a bulk leaching and purification program to produce rare earth carbonate products for delivery to customers.
VML said that the carbonate product from the bulk customer sample program is expected to be produced and available for transportation to REEtec and other prospective customers by the middle of March 2021.
Vital said that it is on track to commence REO production at Nechalacho this year with Stage 1 production from the North T pit.
Drilling at Nechalacho
Vital announced that it has commenced a 30-hole drilling program at Nechalacho that aims to define a preliminary mine plane for its Stage 1 production from the Tardiff resource (94.7Mt @ 1.46% TREO with over 1.3Mt contained rare earths).
The company said that its drilling program will test three high-grade targets in the Tardiff deposit and evaluate potential expansion of the T Zone by targeting two additional zones, the South T and the S zones, which lie adjacent to the planned North T pit.
Vital’s Managing Director Geoff Atkins said, “Production of a rare earth carbonate sample which meets specification is an important milestone as we move towards rare earth production at the project this year.
It has allowed us to finalise the process flowsheet and commence our program to provide samples of our product to our off-take partner REEtec in Norway, as well as other potential customers. REEtec can use the sample as part of customer acceptance protocols as outlined in Vital’s agreement with the company.”
*Image source: Vital Metals Limited