Further construction of rare earths processing plant paused for review of economic viability.
The demand for rare earths is increasing and with it the dependence on the market leader China. Countries such as the USA and Canada are therefore working systematically to build up their own mining and processing capacities. Naturally, success stories are occasionally accompanied by sobering news, as in the case of Vital Metals.
The company, which has been mining rare earths in Canada’s north since 2021, is putting its plans to complete a processing plant for the mined raw materials on hold for the time being. It says plans to sell the intermediate product it produces there are not economically viable at this time. In a press release (PDF), the company cites the increased cost of the plant, as well as the lower prices that can currently be achieved with the products. Vital Metals will now subject the project to a strategic review and work on a long-term and sustainable business model.
In December, the company had already announced (PDF) that it would postpone completion until the second half of 2024, when its customer, Norwegian company REEtec, would be able to process the precursors from Canada at its own plant in Herøya. 720 tons of neodymium and praseodymium per year are to be produced there; REEtec already has supply agreements with the German vehicle supplier Schaeffler, among others (we reported).
Photo: iSTock/Captured by Keeleigh