Canada's Avalon a step closer to the rare earth game

Bernard Valcour, Canada's minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, has given Avalon Rare Metals a green light for its Nechalacho project near the city of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories.

If the company is able to obtain the remaining requisite permits and address aboriginal community concerns, Nechalacho would become Canada's first rare earth mine, with building starting by 2017. The Toronto-based explorer described it the largest deposit of heavy rare earths outside China and "the most advanced large heavy rare earth development project in the world.”

Avalon intends to send chemical concentrate via rail to a Louisiana, US refinery.

The mine is projected to have a life of more than 20 years and would require roughly 220 employees for operation.