Rare Earth Oxides, Zirconium
The 100% owned Nechalacho Rare Earth Elements Project, located at Thor Lake, Northwest Territories, is unique for its high concentrations of the more scarce heavy rare earth elements. With a completed feasibility study and an approved environmental assessment in place, the Nechalacho Project is positioned to bring a new supply of critical rare earth materials to the marketplace.
- Large deposit enriched in the heavy rare earths
- Very low uranium and thorium levels
- Good rock mechanics and shallow depth: amenable to low-cost underground bulk mining methods
- Relative to other locations in the North, Thor Lake has good access through its proximity to Great Slave Lake providing access by barge in the summer and ice roads in the winter. It is located just 100 km southeast of Yellowknife.
- Mine and processing facilities have been designed to significantly minimize impacts to water, land and air and reduce the project’s carbon footprint
- Proactive community outreach initiatives including progressive Aboriginal agreements
- Focus on strong health and safety performance reduces potential for delays and extra costs from lost time injuries
- Politically stable jurisdiction
- Demonstrated potential for additional revenue streams from by-products such as zirconium
The Nechalacho deposit is located at Thor Lake in the Mackenzie Mining District of the Northwest Territories, approximately 100 km southeast of the city of Yellowknife. The property is comprised of five contiguous mining leases totalling 10,449 ac (4,249 ha) and three mineral claims totalling 4,597 ac (1,860 ha).
Since acquiring the property in 2005, Avalon has invested almost C$100 million (as of September 2014) to further explore and develop the Nechalacho Project. This has included metallurgical, environmental and market studies and 120,197 metres of diamond drilling in 559 holes, resulting in economically-significant NI 43-101 compliant Measured, Indicated and Inferred heavy rare earth and zirconium resources in a high grade sub-zone called the Basal Zone.
Project milestones to date:
- June 2010: Completion of positive Prefeasibility Study
- June 2012: Signing of Accommodation Agreement with the Deninu K’ue First Nation
- April 2013: Completion of positive Feasibility Study
- July 2013: Completion of Environmental Assessment by the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board and recommendation for approval
- November 2013: Approval of Environmental Assessment by the Federal Government
- February 2014: Signing of Participation Agreement with the Northwest Territory Métis Nation
- March 2014: Strategic partnership / refining agreement with Solvay for refining of rare earths (mutually terminated in February 2016)
- April 2014: Receipt of Land Use Permit for pre-construction work
- May 2014: Receipt of Water Use License for pre-construction work
Since the completion of the Feasibility Study, Avalon has been engaged in metallurgical test work with the objective of optimizing the process flowsheets to improve recoveries and reduce costs. This involved introducing efficiencies to the concentrator flowsheet, and designing a new flowsheet for the Hydrometallurgical Plant involving an alkali cracking process for treatment of the rare earth mineral concentrate as an alternative to the sulphuric acid bake process contemplated in the Feasibility Study. A further integrated pilot plant campaign has been planned but will only proceed when funding becomes available. Avalon is also monitoring developments in the global rare earths market and maintaining dialogue with potential future customers and strategic partners.