PERTH (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed Vital Metals has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with TSX-V-listed Ucore Rare Metals to supply rare earth carbonate feedstock.
Under the terms of the MoU, Vital will sell a minimum of 500 t/y of rare earth oxide to Ucore, starting in the first half of 2024.
The rare earth oxide will be supplied to Ucore’s strategic metals complex (SMC), in Alaska, which will have an initial 2 000 t/y total rare earth oxide (TREO) separation and purification capacity, starting in the first half of 2024. The Ucore Alaska plant is expected to have an expanded capacity to at least 5 000 t/y TREO by 2026.
Vital Metals MD Geoff Atkins said the MoU with Ucore was an important step in Vital positioning itself as a key supplier of rare earth feedstock in the North American critical minerals supply chain.
“This agreement is an important and exciting entrance into the North American downstream rare earth supply chain. We are particularly excited that, similarly with REEtec’s position in the European market, Ucore represents the most advanced new rare earth separation company entering into the North American market.
“To reach this agreement to ensure Ucore’s Alaska SMC has a guaranteed supply of rare earth feedstock to service the North American market is an important milestone in delivering Vital’s business plan. This agreement, together with our binding offtake agreement with REEtec, will help position Vital as a critical supplier of rare earth feedstock into both the European and North American markets. We are continuing to grow our operations in Canada and are well-placed to supply both geographies with the complete suite of rare earths,” Atkins said.
“We look forward to further developing our relationship with Ucore with a view to finalising a definitive offtake agreement and the commencement of supply of feedstock for the Alaska SMC.”
Ucore chairperson and CEO Pat Ryan said that the partnership with Vital was an integral step in the development of the Alaska SMC, as Ucore continued to cultivate relationships with potential like-minded upstream and downstream partners in the evolving Western world market; with the ultimate goal of ensuring that original equipment manufacturers transforming to an electrified economy continued to have access to a comprehensive North American raw material and finished goods supply chain.
Vital in July produced its first rare earth product from its Nechalanco project, in Canada, where it is aiming to produce a minimum of 5 000 t of contained rare earth oxide by 2025, and has signed an offtake agreement with REEtec for Stage 1 production with the supply of 1 000 t/y for an initial five-year period.