Australia’s Cheetah Resources Sees Potential In Canadian Rare Earth Metals

Australia’s Cheetah Resources sees a bright future in Canada’s deposits of rare earth metals that are used to help power everything from smartphones to satellites.

Cheetah Resources is in the process of setting up shop at Thor Lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories. There, near the community of Lutselk’e, the Australian mining company is partnering on the Nechalacho rare earths project with Canadian firm Avalon Advanced Materials.

In February, Cheetah spent $5 million on near-surface rights, down to roughly 100 metres in two areas to be developed within the next few years. This demonstration phase is expected to last two to three years before the company moves to its commercial phase of the Nechalacho Project.

From 2008 to 2013, Avalon undertook a detailed feasibility study of the area that showed significant deposits of rare earth metals, also known as technology metals because they are used in sophisticated technology such as electric car batteries and laptop computers.

Ottawa approved the Nechalacho Project in 2013, but prices for the metals then fell too low and the project was sidelined in 2014.

But now, Cheetah and Avalon are working through the regulatory framework to launch the project by summer 2020. The government in Canada’s Northwest Territories supports the project, as does the U.S. administration of President Donald Trump, which has made creating a North American supply of rare earth metals a priority.

The U.S. wants to lessen its reliance on Chins for its supply of the critically important metals and Canada is home to one-third of the world’s deposits of metals such as tantalum, niobium, zirconium, lithium and tin.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that his government is looking to sign joint legislation with the U.S. that will create a North American supply chain of rare earth metals by the end of this year.

Cheetah Resources and Avalon Advanced Materials plan to now get into operations as quickly as they can – by next summer at the latest. With the support of both Ottawa and Washington, D.C., they think the Nechalacho Project can help lead the way for North American rare earth extraction.