Ucore Rare Metals Inc. [UCU-TSXV, UURAF-OTQX] shares rallied Monday after the company said it has partnered with U.S. firm Materion Corp [MTRN-NYSE] to respond to an open U.S. Government solicitation for a strategic assessment of the domestic heavy rare earth element market [HREE], in conjunction with an engineering evaluation of the viability of HREE separation capabilities at various sites within the U.S.
Rare earth elements are a group of 15 elements with tongue-twisting names like Neodymium, Terbium and Dysprosium, and which are vital to green technology and high-tech applications. They fall into two sub-groups: light and heavy, with the heavies being scarcer.
Since the U.S. relies on China, the dominant global supplier, for about 80% of its rare earths imports, security of supply became an issue at the beginning of this decade when China imposed export restrictions, a move that sparked renewed investor interest in the sector.
Security of supply re-emerged as a concern earlier this year when China President Xi Jinping paid a visit to a rare earth’s facility in Jiangxi, China. Bloomberg News described the visit as a scripted move that aimed to send a signal about what China might be prepared to do next in a trade war with the U.S.
China has dominated the rare earths industry for 30 years and there is little indication that this will change any time soon, industry officials say. Now, with a dramatic increase in demand for rare earth magnets needed to drive electric transportation and produce clean energy solutions, the industrial world remains exposed to Chinese dominance.
“Ucore and Materion together offer the U.S. Federal government a single-source solution to meet the urgent need for a domestic HREE supply chain,’’ said Ucore President and CEO Jim McKenzie.
On Monday, Ucore and Materion said they have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a rare earth consortium for the purpose of preparing and submitting a bid to the U.S. Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment program. The consortium expects that its bid will represent the only Heavy REE supply chain option to be fully sourced and controlled within the U.S.
Ucore is a development-phase company with a focus on rare metal resources, extraction and benefaction technologies with near term potential for production growth and scalability. The company has a 100%-ownership stake in the Bokan-Dotson Ridge Rare Earth Project in Alaska.
According to the company’s website, the Bokan property is particularly enriched with heavy rare earth elements, including the critical elements Dysprosium, Terbium and Yttrium. Approximately 40% (by weight) of the rare earth elements contained on the Dotson Ridge property are heavy rare earth elements, the company said.
However, Ucore said it is aiming to transition to become a leading nanotechnology company that provides mineral separation products and services to the mining and mineral extraction industry. The vision includes the development of a strategic metals complex in Ketchikan, Alaska, and the development of the company’s rare earth minerals property located at Bokan Mountain in Alaska.
The company recently said it established a project-specific advisory team for the purpose of designing its heavy rare earth element solvent extraction plant and processing capabilities in southeast Alaska.
Based in Ohio, Materion is a supplier of advanced materials to global markets. Its portfolio includes high performance alloys, beryllium products, clad metal strip, composite metals, ceramics, inorganic chemicals, microelectronics packaging materials, precision optics, thin film coatings and thin film deposition materials.
“Ucore’s broad experience in the REE technology markets and comprehensive work in analyzing multiple separation technologies and feedstock sources, along with the significant financial support of the State of Alaska, make us a natural choice for domestic HREE development,” McKenzie said.
“Materion’s extensive background in U.S. Government contracts, together with more than 60 years’ experience in advanced solvent extraction technologies and existing sales presence across American advanced materials markets, makes for an unparalleled partner in this important initiative,” he said.
Ucore, through its U.S. subsidiary, Landmark Alaska L.P., will be the project manager of the initiative, with Materion providing metallurgical processing, supply chain design and advisory functions.
Ucore shares rallied on the news, rising 13.5% or $0.025 to 21 cents on active volume of 2.1 million. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of $0.085 and 33.5 cents.
Materion shares advanced 0.52% or US30.5 cents to US $59.30. The shares trade in a 52-week range of US$42.50 and US$71.97.
You can’t see them but they are everywhere and crucial in so many ways
By Ellsworth Dickson
Most people are totally unaware of how much they depend on the 17 rare earths in their daily lives. A short list of applications would include cameras and telescope lenses, catalytic converters, aircraft engines, X-ray and MRI scanning systems, TV and computer screens, the military and magnets in your car and speakers.
While he didn’t say so, President Donald Trump recently may have tried to buy Greenland for its rare earths; that’s because the US hardly produces any (15,000 tonnes) while China totally dominates that industrial sector, having produced 120,000 tonnes in 2018.
In an interview, Donald Bubar, President and CEO of Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. [AVL-TSX; AVLNF-OTCQX; OU5-FSE], which has a 100% interest in the advanced Nechalacho Project 100 km south of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, provided his insights into current rare earth developments.
RESOURCE WORLD: It was interesting to read the letter from the Pentagon seeking Rare Earth projects. What does that tell you about America’s dependence on China for Rare Earths?
DONALD BUBAR: It tells us there has been a reawakening of the reality that there is no security of supply of Rare Earth Elements, along with a lot of other critical minerals needed in modern technology.
RW: Why do you think the US has been so lax in developing its own, or other non-Chinese Rare Earth sources, especially for its military, when they’ve had years to do so?
DB: It takes a long time to develop new Rare Earths production and, there may have been an assumption after the Rare Earth bubble happened 10 years ago that industry would eventually start to bring that supply along to market but despite all the interest and investment made at the time, the only company that really got there was Lynas Corporation in Australia.
Most of the other companies, like Avalon, got partway there but couldn’t get to the finish line after the Chinese relaxed the export quotas. Users around the world who were concerned about security of supply sort of breathed a sigh of relief that maybe they didn’t need to invest in creating that supply chain outside of China and the access to capital to finish the job to bring that new supply to market was no longer available. I think they assumed that cash would be, but it just didn’t happen. And then, of course, to have Molycorp in California go bankrupt discourages further investment in new Rare Earth developments in North America.
RW: Are there any US Rare Earth projects that you would consider advanced and significant?
DB: The Mountain Pass Mine is still probably the most advanced project in the United States that was the former Molycorp. After it went bankrupt, new owners tried to develop more supply from it. Ironically, that interest seemed to be controlled by the Chinese.
RW: Would the Pentagon also consider Canadian Rare Earth projects as domestic?
DB: Yes, they have announced that after Prime Minister Trudeau met with President Trump this summer that there had been agreement on collaborating on development of these critical mineral supply chains in North America.
RW: Does that mean that the Pentagon might be interested in your project?
DB: Yes, and we made a submission under the Pentagon program, in July.
RW: If China restricted or banned the sale of Rare Earths to the US, considering the fact that it can take up to 10 years to explore, develop and start a Rare Earths mine, plus the refining, what could the US do in the short-term, or even the long-term?
DB: Getting started sooner rather than later is certainly critical. One thing that has happened was work done on this front in Canada, too. That was research into new extraction technologies that might create efficiencies on recovering Rare Earths from traditional ores and other sources.
I think there is still good potential for finding ways to recover Rare Earth Elements from lower grade sources, and more efficient ways to recover them, refine them and separate them into the individual Rare Earth elements.
RW: With China having a stranglehold on Rare Earths production and refinement, how much influence does politics play in this sector?
DB: Obviously, a lot with China playing the Rare Earths card as a strategic weapon in their trade negotiations with the United States, as they did 10 years ago in the confrontation they had with Japan over sovereignty of the South China Sea.
Clearly, they’ve indicated they are thinking in terms of using that control for political purposes and have demonstrated it yet again; furthermore, it’s not just Rare Earths, it’s other critical minerals out there that they have control over as well. So, the less the United States are vulnerable for supply disruptions with a number of strategic commodities, the better.
RW: A few years ago, many junior explorers jumped onto the Rare Earths bandwagon, today there are only a few. Are these abandoned projects just waiting for further exploration and possibly development?
DB: Yes, there are some that can probably be reactivated to pick-up where they left to try to resume down the original path, and certainly our Nechalacho Project is one of those. That’s why we’ve hung onto it, anticipating that there’d be another day for Rare Earths and sure enough, it has arrived, and we also have the opportunity to look at other possibilities on that same project.
RW: Analyst John Kaiser thinks there will be a Rare Earths Mania Two for Rare Earths stocks. Could you comment on that?
DB: There could be. There continues to be a tremendous amount of media coverage of the issue and that’s exactly what we saw in 2010 that created that flurry of speculative interest in 2010/2011. We’re starting to see that again. There is no shortage of commentary out there.
The key is the extraction process and, I think that is something that is not well understood by the public and in the investment community. They think of Rare Earths as just another mined commodity. They’re not. They are very challenging to recover.
Finding the resources is the easy part. And that’s true of a lot of these non-traditional commodities – same with lithium. It’s easy to find the resource but meeting the challenges and costs of extracting and processing them into a form that can ultimately be used in downstream applications is what is needed.
RARE EARTHS COMPANY PROFILES
Appia Energy Corp. [API-CSE; APAAF-OTCQB] is currently focusing on delineating high-grade critical rare earth elements (REE) and uranium on the Alces Lake property in northern Saskatchewan. The 100%-owned, 14,334 hectare property is north of Lake Athabasca and the Athabasca Basin approximately 34 km east of Uranium City and 135 km west of Stony Rapids.
The company recently completed 2,042.1 metres of drilling, in 44 diamond drill holes, in six target areas that were based on geologically and geophysically defined targets.
Earlier drilling at Alces Lake returned encouraging results: Diamond drill hole IV-19-003 was collared 11.5 m southeast of the Ivan surface zone outcrop and intersected 16.10 wt% Total Rare Earth Oxides (TREO) over 11.65 metres core length (true thickness has not been determined) starting at 10.25 metres down hole, which includes a 2.7-metre core length section that returned 31.04 wt% TREO starting at 13.3 metres down hole.
The monazite-bearing mineralization system was intersected in 40 of the holes in all target areas except AL. High concentrations of locally banded to massive monazite were observed in 20 of the holes in target areas CH, DT, IV and RI. Based on previous outcrop and drill core sample studies, the rare earth elements are hosted within the mineral monazite.
James Sykes, Vice-President, Exploration and Development, said, “We defined monazite mineralization in three new areas (Dante, Mikaela and Richard) and also intersected new sub-surface zones exhibiting high concentrations of monazite within Dante, Ivan and Richard. The mineralization system continues to prove to be extensive, with multiple new discoveries, as well as over a 90% drill hole intersection success rate. The widespread nature of monazite indicates the mineralization system is far more extensive beneath the surface than what we’ve observed thus far.”
Recent drilling results from Alces Lake included 16.06% wt% TREO over 15.55 metres, including 49.17% wt% TREO over 3.7 metres in hole IV-19-012.
Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. [AVL-TSX; AVLNF-OTCQX; OU5-FSE] has been advancing the Nechalacho Rare Earth Elements property at Thor Lake, Northwest Territories. Based on a positive 2013 Feasibility Study, the property has potential for economic recovery of the heavy Rare Earth Elements (REE), neodymium, praseodymium, lithium, zirconium, beryllium, niobium and tantalum. Avalon initially focused on the heavy REE-rich Basal Zone deposit (2008-2013), the subject of the 2013 Feasibility Study.
The presence of high-grade, near surface neodymium-praseodymium and dysprosium resources in the T-Zone and Tardiff zones provide the potential for near term, small scale development to produce Nd-Pr-rich concentrates for export. In January 2019, Avalon and Cheetah Resources Pty Ltd. signed a binding terms sheet under which Cheetah would acquire ownership of the T-Zone and Tardiff Zone resources for $5 million, with the definitive agreement completed in June.
Avalon retains its ownership of resources below 150 metres (including the Basal Zone deposit) and will continue to have access to the property for exploration, development and mining. Avalon will also continue to manage Nechalacho work programs and retain its 3% NSR royalty.
“We looked at one specific zone as a resource because of its unusual enrichment in the heavy Rare Earths,” said Bubar, “but there are other resources on the property that we did not do much work on that have good potential for near term production of the more in-demand, light Rare Earths – neodymium and praseodymium – and we announced a partnership arrangement we’ve entered into with an Australian group [Cheetah] who are going to finance getting something started there, in the near term, at a small scale, to initiate some production there.”
He added, “We’re focused on one particular resource in our new partnership with Cheetah called the T-Zone that had some work done on it historically in the 1980s by a predecessor company called Highwood Resources.”
Bubar explained that it is basically a polymetallic rare metals deposit. “They looked at it primarily for beryllium, but there is another zone that is primarily enriched in rare earth elements that’s right at the surface, and because it has got very simple course grade minerology, looks ideally suited for applying new sensor-based ore-sorting technology, a dry-processing technology that is relatively inexpensive to make a concentrate that can then be shipped elsewhere for the next stage in processing to concentrate the rare earth elements.”
Summarizing, Bubar said, “It offers a relatively, simple, quick path to getting something started there that we think we can build on together with Cheetah and to build a larger operation down the road as we get established in the market and market demand grows.”
Commerce Resources Corp. [CCE-TSXV; CMRZF-OTC; D7H-FSE] has been steadily advancing the 100%-owned Ashram Rare Earth Element deposit 130 km south of Kuujjuaq, northern Quebec, a major high-grade, large tonnage rare earth deposit, with middle and heavy rare earth enrichment confirmed.
A positive May 2012 Preliminary Economic Assessment indicated a 4,000 tonne-per-day open pit operation with a 25-year mine life. Pilot plant studies have been undertaken. Simple mineralogy is amenable to reproducible high-grade mineral concentrates (fundamental to low-cost processing) with a 42% TREO at 76% recovery, 46% TREO at 71% recovery, and 49% TREO at 63% recovery. Monazite, bastnaesite, and xenotime rare earth mineralogy all share conventional processing characteristics. Fluorspar is a potential by-product.
Ashram has one of the highest grades of the large tonnage, advanced-stage REE deposits with Measured Resources of 1.6 million tonnes (Mt) at 1.77% TREO, Indicated resources of 28 Mt at 1.90% TREO, and an Inferred resource of 220 Mt at 1.88% TREO.
In early August, Commerce received a final report from Université Laval for recently completed mineral processing work. This work was part of a larger metallurgical program using an alternative flowsheet approach to validate a software model to simulate the solvent extraction separation of REEs processing developed by Laval. Several laboratory bench-scale tests confirmed the viability of the process through the production of several grams of mixed light (La-Nd) rare earth oxide. A Pre-feasibility Study is underway at the Ashram Project.
Defense Metals Inc. [DEFN-TSXV; DFMTF-OTCQB; 35D-FSE] is conducting the 2019 diamond drill program at its 1,780-hectare Wicheeda Rare Earth Element (REE) Project northeast of Prince George, British Columbia.
The 2,000-metre core drilling program, expected to take about six weeks, is designed to further delineate, and potentially expand the Wicheeda REE carbonatite deposit leading to completion of an updated mineral resource estimate. Drilling will test the northern, southern and western extent of the Wicheeda deposit where it is still open; further delineate the relatively higher-grade near surface dolomite carbonatite unit; and address select internal drilling gaps within the deposit.
In 2008, drill hole WI08-04 returned 98.16 metres averaging 1.56% Ce (cerium), 0.72% La (lanthanum), and 0.26% Nd (neodymium) (2.54% LREE) from surface.
The current Wicheeda REE deposit resource comprises Inferred resource of 11,370,000 tonnes averaging 1.96% LREE (Light Rare Earth Elements), reported at a cut-off grade of 1.0% LREE (sum of cerium, lanthanum, neodymium and samarium percentages). A 2009 drill hole, WI09-07, returned 105 metres averaging 1.50% Ce, 0.63% La, and 0.30% Nd (2.43% LREE) from surface.
Following completion of a planned Phase 1A flotation test work, Phase 2 pilot plant processing of 30 tonne bulk sample will begin. There is good infrastructure in the area.
Hudson Resources Inc. [HUD-TSXV; HUDRF-OTC] has a positive PEA for its 100%-owned Sarfartoq rare earths project near Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. In a press release, the company stated: “In light of recent trade tensions between the US and China and its implications on rare earth availability outside of China, Hudson is reviewing activities with respect to its Sarfartoq Carbonatite Rare Earth Element (REE) project.”
Hudson believes the best option is to find a partner to develop the deposit which is located within 20 km of tidewater and only 60 km from Greenland’s international airport.
A 2011 PEA was based on the production of 6,500 tonnes per annum of rare earth carbonatite concentrate of 42-45% REO. This study was based solely on the NI 43-101 mineral resource estimate of January 4, 2011 which defined an inferred resource of 14.1M tonnes averaging 1.51% total rare earth oxides (TREO) and did not incorporate 2011 or 2012 drill results.
Medallion Resources Ltd. [MDL-TSXV; MLLOF-OTC; MRD-FSE], based in Vancouver, BC, reports that the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) has successfully concluded the final major testwork program for Medallion’s rare-earth element (REE) extraction process. Medallion is developing the process and business model to quickly get to REE production in North America by processing by-product monazite sand.
“This program’s key work, conducted by the SRC, was to produce and analyze different waste streams from additional ‘crack and leach’ tests on our monazite sand feedstock,” said Kurt Forrester, PhD, Medallion’s metallurgist. “We are now engaging processors, waste management and transportation groups to determine disposal options and costs. This fits with our recently announced plans to commission trade-off studies investigating suitable North American sites for our proposed plant including transportation costs related to feedstock, re-agents and waste material.”
Medallion has received funding from the federal government through the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program in support of this program.
The company has responded to the US Department of Defense’s Request For Information (which includes Canada as a “domestic” source) to put its monazite by-product processing approach as a route to achieving near-term North American production of REEs.
Mkango Resources Ltd. [MKA-TSXV, AIM] reports that the Feasibility Study for the 51%-owned Songwe Hill Rare Earths Project in the Phalombe district of southeast Malawi, Africa, continues to progress, fully financed by strategic partner, Talaxis Ltd., a subsidiary of Noble Group.
Mkango also confirms that the recently shipped 60-tonne bulk rock sample for mineral processing and metallurgical pilot test work studies has now arrived into Fremantle Port in Western Australia. The company said that optimization of the mineral processing flow sheet is progressing well.
In 2014, a positive Prefeasibility Study was completed based on an open pit mining operations with an 18-year mine life. A 2015 update contemplated 2,841 tonnes of REO in concentrate per year. Indicated total TREO is 13.2 million tonnes averaging 1.60% TREO with Inferred resources of 18.6 million tonnes averaging 1.38% TREO.
Rare Element Resources Ltd. [REEMF-OTCQB] has reported additional significant progress on the previously announced third-party pilot scale testwork regarding its proprietary rare earth separation technology. The work is being conducted by Umwelt-und Ingenieurtechnik GmbH Dresden (UIT), an affiliate of Synchron, a significant shareholder of the company. Rare Element hired UIT to conduct a pilot plant campaign last February to verify, at pilot plant scale, all the process steps from the hydrometallurgical process already validated to the final separation of Nd/Pr oxide.
UIT is currently operating a large-scale hydrometallurgical pilot plant in Germany. Preliminary results, using the rare Elements technology, indicate the successful extraction of Nd/Pr and other rare earth elements, contained in a high-purity rare earth oxide (REO).
Ucore Rare Metals Inc. [UCU-TSXV; UURAF-OTCQX] has a 100% ownership in the Bokan-Dotson Ridge Rare Earth Project located 60 km southwest of Ketchikan, Alaska and 140 km northwest of Prince Rupert, British Columbia with direct ocean access to the western seaboard and the Pacific Rim.
A 2012 positive PEA indicated an 11-year mine life. In a May 2015, resource estimate, Indicated resources stood at 4,787,900 tonnes averaging 0.602% TREO. Inferred resources are 1,050,000 tonnes averaging 0.603% TREO.
Ucore Rare Metals Inc. [UCU-TSXV; UURAF-OTCQX] said Friday October 25 that it has completed an $8.1 million rights offering that will result in the issuance of 80.9 million Uncore common shares at 10 cents each.
“The completion of the rights offering provides an important source of increased momentum at a crucial point in Ucore’s growth curve,” said the company’s President and CEO Jim McKenzie. “It represents one of the most significant single-round infusions of equity capital ever for Ucore. Perhaps the most remarkable is the level of participation from investors not typical to public financing,” he said.
“The substantial capital injection affords us the firepower to pursue even more significant infusions from the State of Alaska and U.S. Federal initiatives.”
Ucore is a development-phase company with a focus on rare metal resources, extraction and benefication technologies with near term potential for production growth and scalability. The company has a 100%-ownership stake in the Bokan-Dotson Ridge Rare Earth Project in Alaska.
However, it is aiming to transition to become a leading nanotechnology company that provides mineral separation products and services to the mining and mineral extraction industry. The vision includes the development of a strategic metals complex in Ketchikan, Alaska, and the development of the company’s rare earth minerals property located at Bokan Mountain in Alaska.
The company recently said it established a project-specific advisory team for the purpose of designing its heavy rare earth element solvent extraction plant and processing capabilities in southeast Alaska.
In February, 2019, Ucore said it had initiated the acquisition of privately-owned IBC Advanced Technologies Inc. on terms it said had previously been agreed to by the two companies as well as the majority shareholders of IBC.
“IBC has over 30 years of history, and extensive intellectual property in regards to the commercialization of supramolecular technology for the mining industry,” Ucore said in the February, 2019 press release. It said the acquisition of IBC would transition Ucore to active revenue bearing status, and progressively away from reliance on capital markets.
However, on February 21, 2019, Ucore said it was acknowledging a press release issued by IBC (dated February 20, 2019) detailing IBC’s decision to terminate the option to purchase agreement.
IBC has launched legal proceedings in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to test the enforceability of the option to purchase agreement. The case is still before the courts.
IBC Advanced Technologies is a privately held corporation, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was founded in 1988 by three professors, Reed Izatt, Jerald Bradshaw, and the late James Christensen. IBC is a developer and manufacturer of an extensive portfolio of Molecular Recognition Technology (MRT) products which are sold to metallurgical, advanced materials, chemical health and other industrial companies as well as to domestic and international governmental and academic organizations.
On Friday, Ucore shares were unchanged at 11 cents and are currently trading in a 52-week range of 8.5 cents and 33.5 cents.
TriMetals Mining Inc. [TMI-TSXV; TMIBF-OTCQX] shares rallied sharply Thursday August 29 after the company said it expects to receive US$25.8 million after reaching a settlement deal with the Bolivian government that followed the expropriation of the Malku Khota Project in 2012.
The Malku Khota Project is one of the world’s largest silver, indium and gallium resources, with a NI 43-101-compliant indicated resource of 255 million tonnes of mineralized material, containing 230.3 million ounces of silver, 1,481 tonnes of indium and 1,082 tonnes of gallium.
On top of that is an inferred resource of 230 million tonnes, containing 140 million ounces of silver, 935 tonnes of indium and 1,001 tonnes of gallium.
The announcement comes nearly nine months after an arbitral tribunal ordered Bolivia to provide TriMetal’s wholly-owned subsidiary South American Silver Ltd. (SASL) with US$18.7 million in compensation and pay interest running from August 2012.
TriMetals is focused on exploration and resource expansion at its flagship Gold Springs gold-silver project in Nevada and Utah.
TriMetals advanced on the news, rising 67% or $0.03 to $0.075 on active volume of 1.84 million. The shares were previously trading in a 52-week range of $0.03 and $0.095.
To avoid the time and expense of pursuing enforcement proceedings to collect the award, which the company and the third party funder of the arbitration agreed could take years with no guarantee of outcome, the company and the fund decided to initiate discussions with Bolivia with a view to obtaining a prompt settlement.
“From the first meeting with Bolivia, and during the meetings that ensued, it became known to the company that prompt settlement would not be possible if the company did not agree to transfer the [exploration] data to Bolivia as, for Bolivia, the data were crucial to facilitate the further development of the project,” TriMetals said in a press release.
“The company determined it was in its best interest to reach a prompt settlement with Bolivia by transferring the data and by accepting a discount to the amount payable to claim pursuant to the award,” the company said.
Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Bolivia has agreed to pay US$25.8 million to the company as a final settlement amount on or before September 5, 2019, and the company agreed to transfer the data to Bolivia.
Bolivia will deduct $209,475 from the amount payable in satisfaction of the cost order included in the award. The company expects to recover the US$209,475 from the fund, as it related to costs and expenses of the arbitration payable by the fund.
Once paid, the company will cease all legal activities related to the collection of the award.
“Reaching a settlement with Bolivia and concluding the arbitration dispute is an important milestone for the company and our shareholders,” said TriMetals President and CEO Matias Herrero.
“All efforts and attention can now be focused on growing and creating value for the company, by exploring and further developing the mineral resources at the historic Gold Springs Project in southern Utah and Nevada, both top 10 mining jurisdictions in the world,” Herrero said.
The company now said it has 60 days from the date of payment by Bolivia to redeem all 116.4 million Class B shares outstanding. In the coming weeks, the company will notify its Class B shareholders, along with their agents and/or brokers, about the procedure to redeem the Class B shares
Defense Metals Corp. [TSX-V:DEFN / OTCQB:DFMTF / FSE:35D] is pleased to announce that it has received successful metallurgical test results for the Wicheeda Rare Earth Element Property from SGS Canada Inc. (“SGS”). Results from the initial 21 of a planned 25 batch flotation tests completed to date during 2019 showed progressive improvement from early to late stage testing, culminating in test F21 that achieved:
- 80% recovery of cerium, lanthanum, and neodymium oxides (Ce2O3+La2O3+Nd2O3)
- 44% rare earth oxide (REO) concentrate grade
- 9.5 times upgrading ratio from head grade
- 8.4% concentrate mass yield
While additional test work is required to replicate the F21 test results, based on publicly-available research authored by SGS staff 1 and Defense Metals’ discussions with experts in the REE industry, the flotation response of the Wicheeda material is considered among the best in its class with relatively high upgrading ratios in comparison with other REE projects. The mass yield to the concentrate is also considered attractive for its potential to reduce acid consumption during the subsequent hydrometallurgical extraction stage. Reduced acid consumption has the potential to positively impact future economic studies for the Wicheeda REE Project by contributing to reduced operating and/or capital costs. It is important to note that the current 2019 bulk sample batch flotation results are representative of the 30 tonne dolomite carbonatite surface bulk sample collected from the Wicheeda REE Deposit (see Defense Metals’ March 14, 2019 News Release). Although the 2019 results are not necessarily representative of potential flotation performance of the deposit as a whole, the current batch flotation test results are in agreement with the 2011 flotation test work, also conducted by SGS, on a composite 2009 drill core sample obtained from seven (7) separate drill holes throughout the deposit.
The 2019 SGS flotation test work is establishing a base-case by confirming the reproducibility of previous 2011 metallurgical test work, followed by process flowsheet optimization through researching the effects of various reagent combinations; in addition to varying grind size, flotation pulp temperature, pH, and the possibility of gravity separation. An examination of Ce2O3 batch flotation test results to date reveals a progressive improvement of both rare earth oxide (REO) grade and overall REO recovery from base-case F1 to the current best test F21 (Figure 1).
- Verbaan, N., Bradley, K., Brown, N., and Mackie, S., 2015 A review of hydrometallurgical flowsheets considered in current REE projects. In: Simandl G.J. and Neetz, M. (Eds.). Symposium on Strategic and Critical Materials Proceedings. November 13-14, 2015, Victoria, British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines, British Columbia Geological Survey Paper 2015-3, pp. 147-162
The 2011 base-case returned projected “trajectory mass balance” REO recoveries for cerium, lanthanum, and neodymium of 83% at a grade of 42% REO (see Defense Metals’ January 8, 2019 News Release) based on combined locked cycle concentrate recoveries of 62% at a grade of 45% REO.
Craig Taylor, CEO of Defense Metals, stated; “We are extremely pleased with the Wicheeda batch flotation test results to date. With 80% recoveries at a rare earth oxide concentrate grade of 44%, this places our Wicheeda bulk sample metallurgical testing at the high-end of publicly reported concentrate grades and upgrading ratios for alkaline and carbonatite rock REE deposits1. Defense Metals looks forward to the completion of additional batch flotation tests and locked cycle flotation testing to establish a finalized process flowsheet”.
About the Wicheeda REE Property
The 1,780 hectare Wicheeda REE Property, located approximately 80 km northeast of the city of Prince George, British Columbia, is readily accessible by all-weather gravel roads and is nearby to infrastructure, including power transmission lines, the CN railway and major highways.
Geologically, the property is situated in the Foreland Belt and within the Rocky Mountain Trench, a major continental geologic feature. The Foreland Belt contains part of a large alkaline igneous province, stretching from the Canadian Cordillera to the southwestern United States, which includes several carbonatite and alkaline intrusive complexes hosting the Aley (niobium), Rock Canyon (REE), and Wicheeda (REE) deposits.
The Wicheeda REE Property is underlain by Kechika Group metasedimentary rocks that are intruded by the southeast-trending Wicheeda carbonatite; a deformed plug or sill approximately 250 metres in diameter that hosts significant REE mineralization. This intrusion comprises a ferroan dolomite carbonatite core, which passes gradationally outward into calcite carbonatite. The REE mineralization is primarily hosted by the dolomitic carbonatite.
The scientific and technical information contained in this news release as it relates to the Wicheeda REE Property has been reviewed and approved by Kristopher J. Raffle, P.Geo. (BC) Principal and Consultant of APEX Geoscience Ltd. of Edmonton, AB, a “Qualified Person” as defined in National Instrument 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects.
Methodology and QA/QC
Batch flotation head grade and concentrate products for lanthanum and neodymium oxides were determined by whole rock analysis, via lithium-borate fusion of a 0.5 gram sample analyzed via wavelength dispersion X-ray fluorescence (WD-XRF). The remaining rare earth elements were determined via 0.5 gram sodium-peroxide fusion multi-element ICP-MS.
The SGS analysis included a quality assurance / quality control (QA/QC) program including the insertion of rare earth element standard and blank samples. Defense Metals detected no significant QA/QC issues during review of the data. SGS Minerals Lakefield is an ISO/IEC 17025 and ISO9001:2015 accredited. SGS is independent of Defense Metals Corp.
About Defense Metals Corp.
Defense Metals Corp. is a mineral exploration company focused on the acquisition of mineral deposits containing metals and elements commonly used in the electric power market, military, national security and the production of “GREEN” energy technologies, such as, high strength alloys and rare earth magnets. Defense Metals has an option to acquire 100% of the 1,780 hectare Wicheeda Rare Earth Element Property located near Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. Defense Metals Corp. trades in Canada under the symbol “DEFN” on the TSX Venture Exchange, in the United States, under “DFMTF” on the OTCQB and in Germany on the Frankfurt Exchange under “35D”.
For further information, please contact:
Todd Hanas, Bluesky Corporate Communications Ltd.
Vice President, Investor Relations
Tel: (778) 994 8072
Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this news release.
Forward Looking Information
This news release includes certain statements that constitute “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable securities law, including without limitation, Defense Metals plans for its properties/projects, exploration and drilling on the Wicheeda REE Property, bulk sample testing and results, metallurgical testing, other statements relating to the technical, financial and business prospects of Defense Metals, and other matters.
Forward-looking statements address future events and conditions and are necessarily based upon a number of estimates and assumptions. These statements relate to analyses and other information that are based on forecasts of future results, estimates of amounts not yet determinable and assumptions of management. Any statements that express or involve discussions with respect to predictions, expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, assumptions or future events or performance (often, but not always, using words or phrases such as “expects” or “does not expect”, “is expected”, “anticipates” or “does not anticipate”, “plans”, “estimates” or “intends”, or stating that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will” be taken, occur or be achieved), and variations of such words, and similar expressions are not statements of historical fact and may be forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statement are necessarily based upon a number of factors that, if untrue, could cause the actual results, performances or achievements of Defense Metals to be materially different from future results, performances or achievements express or implied by such statements. Such statements and information are based on numerous assumptions regarding present and future business strategies and the environment in which Defense Metals will operate in the future, including the price of metals, anticipated costs and the ability to achieve goals, that general business and economic conditions will not change in a material adverse manner, that financing will be available if and when needed and on reasonable terms, and that third party contractors, equipment and supplies and governmental and other approvals required to conduct Defense Metals planned exploration activities will be available on reasonable terms and in a timely manner. While such estimates and assumptions are considered reasonable by the management of Defense Metals, they are inherently subject to significant business, economic, competitive and regulatory uncertainties and risks.
Forward-looking statements are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual events, level of activity, performance or results to differ materially from those reflected in the forward-looking statements, including, without limitation: (i) risks related to gold, copper, uranium, rare earth elements, and other commodity price fluctuations; (ii) risks and uncertainties relating to the interpretation of exploration results; (iii) risks related to the inherent uncertainty of exploration and cost estimates and the potential for unexpected costs and expenses; (iv) that resource exploration and development is a speculative business; (v) that Defense Metals may lose or abandon its property interests or may fail to receive necessary licences and permits; (vi) that environmental laws and regulations may become more onerous; (vii) that Defense Metals may not be able to raise additional funds when necessary; (viii) the possibility that future exploration, development or mining results will not be consistent with Defense Metals expectations; (ix) exploration and development risks, including risks related to accidents, equipment breakdowns, labour disputes or other unanticipated difficulties with or interruptions in exploration and development; (x) competition; (xi) the potential for delays in exploration or development activities or the completion of geologic reports or studies; (xii) the uncertainty of profitability based upon Defense Metals history of losses; (xiii) risks related to environmental regulation and liability; (xiv) risks associated with failure to maintain community acceptance, agreements and permissions (generally referred to as “social licence”), including local First Nations; (xv) risks relating to obtaining and maintaining all necessary government permits, approvals and authorizations relating to the continued exploration and development of Defense Metals projects; (xvi) risks related to the outcome of legal actions; (xvii) political and regulatory risks associated with mining and exploration; (xix) risks related to current global financial conditions; and (xx) other risks and uncertainties related to Defense Metals prospects, properties and business strategy. These risks, as well as others, could cause actual results and events to vary significantly.
Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward looking statements include, but are not limited to, continued availability of capital and financing and general economic, market or business conditions, the loss of key directors, employees, advisors or consultants, adverse weather conditions, increase in costs, equipment failures, litigation, failure of counterparties to perform their contractual obligations and fees charged by service providers. Investors are cautioned that forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance or events and, accordingly are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements due to the inherent uncertainty of such statements. The forward-looking statements included in this news release are made as of the date hereof and Defense Metals disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as expressly required by applicable securities legislation.
Canada’s DeepGreen Metals, a start-up planning to extract cobalt and other battery metals from small rocks covering the seafloor, has secured the bulk of the $150 million it needs to carry out its first feasibility studies.
The financing, provided by Switzerland-based offshore pipeline company Allseas Group, is a welcome sign of progress for the deep sea mining sector, which has been stalled due regulatory uncertainty and environmental concerns.
Unlike other seafloor mining companies, including pioneer Nautilus Minerals, the Vancouver-based explorer doesn’t want to drill, blast or dig the bottom of the ocean. DeepGreen’s main goal is to scoop up small metallic rocks located thousands of metres below the surface in the North Pacific Ocean.
Unlike other seafloor mining companies, the Canadian start-up doesn’t want to drill, blast or dig the bottom of the ocean, but to scoop up small rocks containing cobalt, nickel and other battery metals.
Its exploration focus is the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), a mineral-rich, 4,000-kilometre swath of the Pacific that stretches from Hawaii to Mexico, where billions of potato-sized metals-rich rocks lie in a shallow layer of mud on the seafloor.
The deep sea, more than half the world’s surface, contains more cobalt, nickel, copper, manganese and rare earth metals than all land reserves combined, according to the US Geological Survey.
Companies exploring or already developing projects to mine the seafloor argue the extraction of those deep-buried riches could help diversify the sources currently supplying metals needed for electronics and evolving green technologies, such as electric vehicles (EVs) and solar panels.
Academics and scientist, however, are concerned by the lack of research on the possible impacts of high seas mining. They fear the activity could devastate fragile ecosystems that are slow to recover in the highly pressurized darkness of the deep sea, as well as having knock-on effects on the wider ocean environment.
Not enough studies
Last year, the European Parliament called for a ban on seabed mining until the environmental impacts and risks of disturbing unique deep-sea ecosystems are understood. In the resolution, it also urged the European Commission to persuade member states to stop sponsoring and subsidizing licenses to explore and exploit the seabed in international waters as well as within their own territories.
Shortly after, an international team of researchers published a set of criteria to help the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a UN body made up of 168 countries, protect biodiversity from deep-sea mining activities.
So far, it has granted 29 licences to governments and companies, authorizing them to explore in international waters.
Nautilus, however, is the only company that has gone beyond the exploration stage and has gotten close to open the first polymetallic seabed mine off the coast of Papua New Guinea. Its Solwara 1 project, however, has been slowed by funding issues and local opposition.
Anglo American (LON:AAL) sold its 4% stake in Nautilus a year ago, as part of efforts to retain only its most profitable assets. And, in March, it had to delist from the Toronto Stock Exchange.
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