Niagara Falls ceramic powders manufacturer TAM Ceramics has signed a preliminary agreement to purchase up to 24,000 tons of zirconia annually from a mine that a Canadian company is attempting to develop in Labrador.

TAM signed a nonbinding letter of intent with Toronto-based Quest Rare Minerals Ltd. to purchase zirconia for a five-year term, with options that could extend the deal for as long as 30 years.

The agreement, which must be finalized by the end of 2014, would include all of the zirconia that Quest expects to produce from the Strange Lake deposit in western Labrador, the Canadian company said Tuesday.

Quest currently is conducting feasibility studies on the Strange Lake deposit, which officials from the mining company believe could become a lucrative source of rare earth minerals.

TAM makes zirconia, titanate and zircon powders that are used in high-temperature furnace linings, brake pads, protective coatings for molten metal casting and welding consumables.