Government of Canada investment supports Indigenous resource development in the Northwest Territories

News release

CanNor invests over $1.2 million in the Nechalacho Rare Earth Demonstration Project

June 16, 2021 – Yellowknife, Northwest Territories – Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor)

Resource development remains a principal driver for developing a strong, diverse, dynamic and sustainable economy in Northwest Territories. The Government of Canada is committed to working with Indigenous organizations, businesses and communities in NWT, and across Canada, to support sustainable mining of critical minerals for the green economy, help stimulate the Northern economy and create employment opportunities for Northerners and Indigenous peoples.

Federal government supports Indigenous economic development project in NWT

Today, Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories, on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for CanNor, announced an investment of over $1.2 million to support the Cheetah Resources Corporation's (Cheetah) Nechalacho Rare Earth Demonstration Project.

This investment supports sustainable resource development in NWT. The Nechalacho Rare Earth Demonstration Project involves the extraction and beneficiation of rare earth elements. Cheetah anticipates this project will illustrate the economic feasibility of rare earth element oxide extraction in the NWT, leading to full commercial extraction and sorting, and a developed mine. This mechanically-based beneficiation process will have a smaller environmental impact due to the elimination of tailing ponds that typically accompany metal mining.

For this project, Cheetah is working with the Det'on Cho Corporation, the economic development arm of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, and has an agreement with the Det'on Cho Nahanni Construction Corporation to manage and operate on-site extraction activities at the Nechalacho Rare Earth Demonstration Project.

CanNor's investment in this project will help promote economic development in NWT and will create jobs for Indigenous peoples and Northerners. The demonstration project is expected to create 22 jobs, expand 5 jobs and maintain an additional 2 jobs.

Today's announcement is further proof of the Government of Canada's commitment to innovative and sustainable resource development in NWT. Support for initiatives like this are essential to the recovery, diversification and long term economic sustainability of northern and Indigenous communities.


"With this investment made through CanNor, our government is advancing a responsible, sustainable resource development opportunity while supporting Indigenous and northern communities. We are proud to continue supporting the growth of a strong territorial economy and creating good jobs in the North.”

-    The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for CanNor

"This investment from CanNor will help Cheetah and the Det'on Cho Corporation seize on an important partnership opportunity and develop a local resource project right here in NWT. Being able to process rare earth elements in an innovative, responsible and sustainable way is a key step in growing NWT's resource development sector. I'm excited to see the difference that this investment will make and how this project proceeds, as well as how it will benefit local Indigenous communities on their path to self-sufficiency and prosperity."

-    Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament, Northwest Territories

"We are pleased to receive this support from the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency which validates our strategy to create a sustainable rare earth production facility in Canada that will generate significant Indigenous and Northern economic and employment benefits for local communities."

-    Geoff Atkins - Managing Director Vital Metals

"We are excited to partner on this project with the Det'on Cho Nahanni Construction Corporation. It's a first of its kind mining project in Canada, where we are mining on our own traditional lands."

-    Paul Gruner, President and CEO of Det'on Cho Management LP

Quick facts

  • CanNor is investing $1,261,579 towards a two-year project to support the beneficiation of rare earth elements (REEs) at the Nechalacho Rare Earth Demonstration Project. Through a repayable contribution, CanNor's funding supports the purchase of a high-tech sensor based sorting machine and the associated engineering and set-up costs. This project aims to demonstrate the economic feasibility of the development of a mine.

  • Cheetah's Nechalacho Demonstration Project, located 100 kilometres southeast of Yellowknife, will produce rare earth elements, which are minerals used in technologies that will help move Canada to a low carbon economy, such as the manufacturing of electric vehicles, renewable energy production, electronics and aerospace (e.g. for cell phones, computers, wind turbines and medical devices).

    The demonstration project will use an innovative high-tech sensor based sorting technology for ore sorting on site to concentrate rare earth element oxides before shipping for further processing. This will significantly reduce the amount of water and diesel used, and eliminate chemicals and tailings from the mining process.

  • Cheetah and Det'on Cho are showcasing their partnership as an example of how industry and Indigenous groups can work together on major resource development projects.

Associated links


Catherine Mounier-Desrochers
Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Barbara Abramchuk
Communications Advisor, NWT region

Stay connected

Find more services and information at

Follow CanNor on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Page details

Date modified: