Canada began supplying the world with minerals essential to the green economy, with the country’s first rare earth mines supplying concentrated ore.

“Canada and its allies have gained independence from China’s rare earth supply chain,” said David Connelly, a cheetah resource who owns the Necharacho mine southwest of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories.

Rare earths are a series of elements with exotic names such as ytterbium, lanthanum and gadolinium. These are very important for computers, LED displays, wind turbines, electric vehicles and many other essential products in the low-carbon world.

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Some industry analysts predict the rare earth market will grow from $6.8 billion in 2021 to over $12 billion by 2026.

Nearly 60% of the world’s supply of these important materials is produced in China, and much of the rest is owned by Chinese companies. until now.

“(Necharacho) is the only rare earth mine in North America that doesn’t supply China,” Connelly said.

A deposit containing 15 rare earth elements was discovered in 1983. Mine development proposals were submitted to regulatory agencies more than a decade ago.

The project would involve intensive water use and produce a large settling pond. Environmental regulators in the Northwest Territories approved the plan, but said it would have had significant impacts requiring mitigation.

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The new mine does not use water. Instead, the raw ore is crushed into gravel-sized debris and passes through the sensor.
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“It’s a large X-ray machine on a conveyor belt that separates the white quartz from the much heavier and denser rare-earth ore,” Connelly said.

The concentrate is then transported over Great Slave Lake to the Hay River in the Northwest Territories. From there, take the train to Saskatoon. In Saskatoon, Vital Metals, which owns Cheetah, built a facility to refine concentrates for market. The government is developing a hub for the refining and research of rare earths. The first shipment is in the middle and is scheduled for June.

Nechalacho’s fine products are offered to Norwegian customers. There, the individual minerals are separated from each other and formed into metal rods.

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Nechalacho hopes to produce 25,000 tonnes of concentrate per year by 2025. There will be enough ore there for decades to come, Connelly said.

“It’s several generations.”

At full production, the mine will employ about 150 people in the Northwest Territories and another 40 in Saskatoon, Connelly said. They’re not that numerous in the mining industry, but Connelly said most workers are based in the northern economy, which makes a big difference to the northern economy.

According to Connelly, more than 40 of the mine’s current 50 employees live in the north. About 70% are native and the Cheetahs have contracted with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation to do the mining on site.

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Ultimately, Cheetah wants to buy a stake in an indigenous group in the area, Connelly said.

But Necharacho isn’t just important to the Northwest Territories, Connelly said.

He said a national source of essential minerals for electric motors would help protect the country’s automotive sector. He added that by providing a secure source of important material, it would be easier for Canada to meet its climate goals and strengthen national security.

Canada has 13 active rare earth projects, according to the

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