Vital Metals bills itself as Canada’s first rare earth producer and decision to ditch projects could be significant
Australia’s Vital Metals Ltd. walked away from two Quebec-based projects earlier this week due to objections from the Kebaowek First Nation, the latest evidence that maximizing Canada’s potential to be a player in the energy transition will require a more sophisticated relationship with Indigenous communities.
The Sydney-based company had signed an $8-million agreement with Montreal-based Quebec Precious Metals Corp. (QPM) in August last year to acquire 68- and 100-per-cent interests in the Kipawa and Zeus rare earth projects situated in Quebec’s Témiscamingue region, about 90 kilometres northeast of North Bay, Ont.
But Vital said on Oct. 10 that the deal would not go ahead because it wasn’t “satisfied” with the Quebec company’s “ability to progress its understanding of the Kipawa (Kebaowek) First Nation’s stated objection to the projects and to determine whether support from the First Nation can ever be obtained.”
A spokesperson of the Kebaowek First Nation said that the Zeus and Kipawa projects were situated near Brennan lake, which a spokesperson described as the “heart” of the community, as the area was home to a significant population prior to the early 1970s.