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30 diplomats tour Saskatoon’s rare earth processing facility

Vital Metals is completing a 3,000 square-metre metallurgical facility in Saskatoon.

SASKATOON — Representatives from 30 countries were given a tour of the rare earth processing facility by Vital Metals Ltd. Oct. 19.

Construction of the facility is still ongoing with Vital Metals and its subsidiary Cheetah Resources Corp. expecting it to be fully operational by early 2023.

Vital Metals vice-president of Strategy and Corporate Affairs David Connelly welcomed the representatives of the countries, which also have interests in rare earth minerals.

“We are here because critical metals and, particularly, the supply of rare earth [metals] have important economic, environmental and security implications for each of our nations,” said Connelly.

“We are here because Canada is a reliable, responsible supplier of low impact, ethically produced rare earth [metals] that meet high standards. And, because Saskatchewan is emerging as a continental rare earth processing, research and education hub.”

Tanzania, one of the countries represented on the tour, has a deposit of rare earth minerals at Wigu Hill for which Vital Metals is seeking to obtain a rare earth mining licence.

Vital Metals is completing a 3,000 square-metre metallurgical facility which will process concentrate from the Nechalacho rare earth mine in the Northwest Territories into a mixed rare earth carbonate.

Vital Metals expects phase one of the processing facility to employ 40 people. The product that will go through the facility will be further refined in Norway and America into separate rare earth elements.

Rare earth [minerals] are in high demand for a myriad of clean technology uses, especially as permanent magnets for the rapidly growing electric vehicle industry, wind turbines, energy-efficient air conditioners, elevator motors, computers and mobile phones.

Representatives from Algeria, Argentina, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Estonia, the European Union, Gabon, Georgia, Hungary, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Mali, Peru, Rwanda, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Switzerland, Togolese Republic, Uganda and Zimbabwe are also part of the tour.