Vital Metals Limited (ASX: VML) has commenced a 30 hole, 1800m drilling programme at Nechalacho REE project in North West Territories, Canada aimed at defining a preliminary mine plan.
The company has entered into a drilling contract, through its subsidiary Cheetah Resources Corp, with NorthTech Ltd, a Yellowknife based drilling company, with the aim of completing the drilling programme over the coming winter.
Managing Director, Geoff Atkins, said Vital’s drilling programme will test three high-grade targets in the Tardiffdeposit 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, where Vital plans to commence production later this year.
Drilling aims to enable Vital to develop a mine plan for the Nechalacho Stage 2 mine development, as well as define additional resources in the vicinity of the current pit.
2021 will be a ground-breaking year for Vital Metals. In addition to the commencement of development and construction activities for our Stage 1 operations at Nechalacho, the commencement of this drilling programmemarks the start of development activities for the larger Stage 2 operation,” Mr Atkins said.
Vital’s strategy is to develop Nechalacho in two stages. Stage 1 of the operations focuses on developing the T Zone resource and Stage 2 will involve the development of the much larger Tardiff deposit.
Stage 1: North T Deposit
Stage one will develop the previously drilled North T deposit located north of the main Tardiff Deposit. The North T contains a resource of 105,000 tonnes grading 8.9% TREO (Table 2). Key feature of the Stage 1 operations are:
• Near-term/low capex operation to finalise customer acceptance and ramp-up to production.
• Ore Sorter has been purchased and will be mobilised to site in March 2021 for simple beneficiation of bastnaesite mineralisation;
• Vital has signed a Definitive Offtake Agreement with REEtec for Stage 1 production with the supply of 1,000t REO (ex-Cerium)/yr for an initial five-year period; and
• Vital will commence production of mixed rare earth carbonate in 2021. Stage 2: Tardiff Deposit
Stage 2 envisages the development of several high-grade zones identified within the Tardiff (Upper Zone) deposit. The company previously announced this deposit’s total resource of 95 million @ 1.46% total rare earth oxides (TREO) (1.3 million tonnes of contained TREO). The Tardiff deposits are envisaged as providing the resource for the long-term operation and expansion of the project.
In addition to rare earths, this zone also contains zircon and niobium grades which are comparable with other polymetallic rare earth projects and were also the subject of feasibility test work previously undertaken at Nechalacho by Avalon Advanced Materials Inc.