- Rare earth element (“REE”) processing solutions developer Ucore Rare Metals Inc. is preparing to demonstrate the prowess of its proprietary RapidSX (TM) technological advantage as an improvement over standard REE ore separation processes
- REE production has become a matter of strategic importance to American industries and tech-based military applications, as China has built global control of vital REE markets and demonstrated a willingness to stop REE exports during international disputes
- Ucore is preparing to launch construction of a Strategic Metals Complex (“SMC”) in Louisiana later this year after demonstrating RapidSX (TM) potential at its Canadian base
- Ucore’s SMC will be the first in a series of processing facilities drawing on “allied” Western ore sources for rapid throughput of REEs to market in North America
- The company also owns an REE mine prospect in Alaska that it intends to start up once financing is secured
Tensions in an evolving tech war between the United States and China grew this month as the Netherlands announced it would agree to limit the export of “advanced” semiconductor manufacturing equipment (https://ibn.fm/aOAju) as a result of an agreement it quietly ratified with Japan and the United States in January (https://ibn.fm/W4aJe).
The export limits, which tacitly are aimed at restraining China’s world dominance in mining resources for next-generation technology used in everything from cell phones and electric vehicles to military assets, demonstrate the cooperative efforts Western governments and industries are undertaking to prevent becoming dependent on the Asian nation, whose population and economy (when measured by purchasing power parity) are the largest on earth (https://ibn.fm/P9vfJ).
Ucore Rare Metals (TSX.V: UCU) (OTCQX: UURAF), a Canadian company developing specialized rare earth element (“REE”) separation and processing solutions, is playing a role in reasserting North America’s independence in tech resource mining. The company is preparing to demonstrate its proprietary RapidSX (TM) process for the low-cost separation and purification of REEs through an accelerated form of solvent extraction at a Demonstration Plant in Ontario.
Commissioning of the Demonstration Plant is currently under way, according to a Jan. 26 Ucore statement (https://ibn.fm/eXtNB).
Ucore then intends to demonstrate its position as an REE thought leader by building a “Strategic Metals Complex” (“SMC”) processing facility in Louisiana later this year, followed by additional SMCs at sites in Alaska and Canada. The SMC processing facilities network, using Ucore’s RapidSX (TM) technology to improve on the standard SX solvent extraction process used by 100 percent of all REE producers worldwide, has the potential to help the West retain control of its supply chain for the mineral resources.
That need became particularly apparent when China leveraged its control over rare earth production to block Japan’s access to REEs in 2010 following a dispute over a dangerous fishing trawler’s detention in waters claimed by both nations (https://ibn.fm/l1n9W). Tensions between the United States and China during the Trump administration and a new Chinese threat to limit REE sourcing increased the emphasis on turning to in-country production for U.S. technologies (https://ibn.fm/sHyz6).
The Pentagon has subsequently provided millions of dollars in funding to Las Vegas-based MP Materials, which owns the Mountain Pass mine in California. Mountain Pass is currently the only operating rare earth mine and processing facility in the United States. A few other companies have been attempting to join in to help jump start large-scale U.S. production of rare earths, but the effort is time- and cost-intensive since virtually all formerly operating rare earth mines shut down on a global scale after China entered the market in the 1980s and began flooding it with low-cost REEs, independent research group Adamas Intelligence founder Ryan Castilloux stated in a Politico report on the matter (https://ibn.fm/qJHMH).
“(China) leveraged that monopoly on rare earths supply to subsequently dominate all of the value-adding steps, from mine through to metal through to magnet,” Castilloux stated.
The Politico report notes going from raw ore to magnet is an expensive, multi-step process that currently takes place across multiple continents — Mountain Pass’s ore is currently processed in China, for example. Ucore aims to employ its RapidSX (TM) processing technology and SMCs in quickly moving mined rare earths to market domestically, using “allied” rare earth feedstock derived from mines around the world, according to an Alaska Journal of Commerce report (https://ibn.fm/8ss33).
Ucore owns a rare earth mine prospect on Alaska’s Prince of Wales Island that it acquired in 2007, which it aims to ultimately develop as an additional strategic REE source for its supply chain. The mine on the Bokan Mountain-Dotson Ridge holds more than 4.7 million metric tons of indicated rare earth ore, according to a 2015 resource assessment, the Journal of Commerce report states. That translates to about 63.5 million pounds of collective rare earth metals.
Alaska’s Legislature approved up to $145 million in bonds to help finance the Bokan Mountain mine in 2014. Ucore officials state if they can obtain funding for the remainder of the mine startup, estimated at $220 million in 2013, Bokan can be “near shovel-ready” within 30 months, according to the Journal report.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.Ucore.com.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to UURAF are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/UURAF
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