Nechalacho Rare Earth Elements Project, Northwest Territories
Tetra Tech was retained to complete the developer’s assessment report for the Nechalacho Rare Earth Elements Project and support the environmental assessment and review process, feasibility study, and regulatory permitting.
The Nechalacho Project property is at Thor Lake in the Mackenzie Mining District of the Northwest Territories. It is on the traditional lands of the local Metis and Dene First Nations, and it is accessible only by air or by barge in the summer and by ice road in the winter. The complex land use and regulatory process required a substantive effort to complete the developer’s assessment report in support of the environmental review process. The Nechalacho Project is one of the few heavy rare earth element projects outside China that has a completed feasibility study and an approved environmental impact assessment.
Tetra Tech completed the developer’s assessment report for the Nechalacho Project and supported the environmental assessment and review process. The Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board recommended project approval, subject to the implementation of the measures and commitments set out in the Report of Environmental Assessment.
Tetra Tech also contributed environmental, regulatory permitting, and closure and reclamation inputs into the feasibility study completed for the Nechalacho Project. Tetra Tech is working closely with Avalon Rare Metals, Inc., the property owner, to pursue the regulatory permitting phase of the project, leading to future project construction and operation.
The estimated life of the Nechalacho Project is 20 years. The project has two proposed site components:
- Nechalacho Mine and Flotation Plant site, an underground mine and flotation plant to be located at the Thor Lake property
- Hydrometallurgical Plant site, a plant to be located at the existing brownfields site of the former Pine Point Mine
A barge will be used to transport concentrate across Great Slave Lake from the Nechalacho Mine and Flotation Plant site to the Hydrometallurgical Plant site for further refinement. Rare earth elements products will be shipped by truck from the hydrometallurgical plant to Hay River, and from there by rail to the United States for final processing.
Avalon Rare Metals Inc., the owner of the property, received the PDAC 2010 Environmental and Social Responsibility Award in recognition of its community engagement efforts during exploration of the Nechalacho deposit.