Weekly Nugget

Mining News Roundup Aug. 13, 2021

Australia’s Vital Metals (ASX: VML) increased production from its T-zone starter pit at the Nechalacho rare earths mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories.


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Rare Earth Mining Begins in Canada: Vital Metals Ramps up Production at Nechalacho

Australia’s Vital Metals (ASX: VML) increased production from its T-zone starter pit at the Nechalacho rare earths mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

This is North America’s second producer of the elements used in magnets for electric vehicles, aerospace, defense, and electronics, with California’s Mountain Pass mine owned by MP Materials (NYSE: MP), as the second. 

Vital completed its first month of rare earths mining on August 6 and said it has intersected high-grade rare earth oxide mineralization in the northern wall of the mine. This could expand mineable resources beyond the pit in the existing plan. 

In 2020, Vital signed an off-take agreement with TSX-listed Avalon Advanced Materials (TSX: AVL) for the production of rare earths from the near-surface T-Zone resource.

Avalon retains its ownership of the mineral resources below a depth of 150 metres above sea level (including the Basal Zone deposit) and will continue to have access to the property for exploration, development, and mining purposes. 

According to a 2013 feasibility study funded by Avalon, total Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources could be sufficient to support continued mining operations at Nechalacho for over 90 years. 

Nechalacho 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), making it one of the highest grade rare earths deposits in the world.

Vital has an agreement with Norway-based REEtec for an off-take and profit-sharing that will provide REEtec an annual volume of 1,000 tonnes of REO (ex-cerium) over five years. Vital company plans to increase annual production to 5,000 tonnes.

Rare earth metals are the critical components in many renewable technologies, but the mine supply and especially the refinement of these valuable technology metals is largely dominated by China. 

The U.S. Department of Commerce launched a program to help American miners and battery makers expand into Canada. The move is part of a strategy to boost regional production of minerals used to make EVs and counter Chinese market dominance. 

There are 77 Rare Earth projects on Prospector Portal. 

Billionaire Backed-firm to Use AI to Find EV Metals in Greenland
 

KoBold Metals, a privately-held mineral exploration company funded by a group of billionaires, has invested US$15 million into UK-based Bluejay Mining (LSE: JAY; US-OTC: BLLYF) to explore for critical materials used in electric vehicles in Greenland. 

KoBold’s backers include big names such as venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Breakthrough is financed by well-known billionaires including Michael Bloomberg, Ray Dalio, Jack Ma, Richard Branson, as well as Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates. In addition, Norwegian state-controlled energy company Equinor is also a partner in Kobold. 

KoBold, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help find key minerals for renewable technologies, is investing US$15 million in exploration funding for Bluejay Mining’s Disko-Nuussuaq project in Greenland’s for a 51-per-cent stake in the project, according to Blue Jay.

The Disko-Nuussuaq licence holds metals such as nickel, copper, cobalt, and platinum and 40% of KoBold’s funding will cover geological evaluation and initial drilling.

BlueJay said previous studies found that the area in western Greenland resembles the geology of Russia’s Norilsk region, a producer of nickel and palladium. The license area is approximately the size of Luxembourg with the largest anomaly six kilometers in length.  

Founded in 2018, Kobold uses artificial intelligence to decide where to buy land, what types of field data to collect, and where to drill. It aims to create a “Google Maps” of the Earth’s crust, with a focus on finding cobalt. It collects and analyzes multiple streams of data from old drilling results to satellite imagery to better understand where new deposits might be found. 

There are 21 projects with technical reports in Greenland on Prospector Portal.  

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