EDITOR: | March 21st, 2019 | 15 Comments

Northern Minerals’ George Bauk on being the only producer of heavy rare earths outside of China

| March 21, 2019 | 15 Comments

“We started back in 2010, a greenfield discovery, and in December of last year we put out our first product. Shipped mixed rare earth carbonate out of our Browns Range Project in Western Australia. So a long journey but a rewarding one…” States George Bauk, Managing Director and CEO of Northern Minerals Limited (ASX: NTU), in an interview with InvestorIntel’s Tracy Weslosky.

Tracy Weslosky: Would you like to give a bit of an overview on what Northern Minerals is in this market place?

George Bauk: We started back in 2010, a greenfield discovery, and in December of last year we put out our first product. Shipped mixed rare earth carbonate out of our Browns Range Project in Western Australia. So a long journey but a rewarding one. Hopefully we will see some changes in process going forward.

Tracy Weslosky: Many of you might not be aware of the fact that there is no other heavy rare earth producers outside of China besides Lynas. Is that correct? And now its you.

George Bauk: Lynas being light and ours being heavy, so absolutely yes. If you think about it Western Australia is the only mining jurisdiction for rare earths at the present moment outside of China……to access the complete interview, click here.



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  • Joe

    Rare earth juniors like NTU, GGG etc will struggle to find funding to progress to full scale production in the current climate, which does not look like changing anytime soon. Chinese producers and Lynas have enough capacity to supply the market for the foreseeable future IMO.
    Taking into account the economic viability of these juniors also, it may be they never become producers at all. But then Lynas is looking to build a cracking and leaching plant in Western Australia that is capable of processing other sources of REE so maybe that would provide an opportunity for NTU to sell their concentrate to Lynas. Ntu will need to prove up a much larger resource before that could be considered a viable option though IMO.

    September 18, 2019 - 5:15 AM

    • Tracy Weslosky

      Joe – Allow me to respond here, because you are showing our audience how very confusing this sector is. Let me start by saying that I will be interviewing Amanda Lacaze of LYNAS later this week, so stay tuned for a very interesting interview! Also, Jack Lifton answers some of these questions in an interview I will publish with him on Monday. Now – I will answer your comments: (1) NTU and GGG are not in the same food group. NTU is a producer of HREEs and GGG is an exploration play. (2) The Chinese do NOT have the ability to produce for the global market for a long time. What perhaps you mean, is that IF we want them to produce 95% of our REEs then, yes they can probably process it all. BUT, Alister MacDonald tells me they have water issues, so let’s not throw this debate away with the Chinese bathwater. (3) It should be interesting what happens with processing moving forward. We have some VERY disruptive technology for processing rare earths coming out of Korea and ALKANE partners. Final note? Thanks again for commenting but NTU has a lot of options. For instance, what if they are in the acquisition game and have bought another source….anything can happen in the rare earth game. But trust me, this is anything but simple. And any country that wants to stay in a leadership role for technology and military applications — mfg etc., better get in the game.

      September 21, 2019 - 5:04 PM

      • Joe

        Thanks for your insights Tracey, look forward to the upcoming Amanda Lacaze and Jack Lifton interviews.
        Further to your reply comments.
        1) While NTU does produce a claimed 52% HRE concentrate from its Brown Range pilot plant, to date it has not produced anywhere near its target production rate and even if/when that happens, once the 52% concentrate has been further separated the resultant REO quantity would not be significant in the scheme of things. As such I wouldn’t consider NTU a producer.
        2) The Chinese may not have the ability to produce 95% of global REO indefinitely, I have no doubt they could continue at current rates for at least the next decade. As for the reported water problems, will be interesting to see what kind of impact this has on Chinese production over the medium to long term. I’m am also sure Lynas would be able to grow market share should China falter.
        3)Agreed, should be very interesting seeing how these disruptive technologies play out. There have been a number of reports over the years past about game changing disruptive technologies, none have actually come to fruition. Maybe it will be different this time…

        NTU have a huge tax bill to repay, doubt they will be acquiring another resource anytime soon but then with the amount of Chinese money being pumped into the company, like you said, anything is possible.

        September 22, 2019 - 9:01 AM

        • Tim Ainsworth

          NTU are attempting to produce a 52%TREO MIXED carbonate that duplicates full suite values at Browns Range. That requires recovery of the same proportion of Dy in-situ 0.053% & Tb 0.008% vs Yttrium 0.357% after discarding ~98% of the material mined, quite a challenge given the minor values of the pay dirt.

          Given NTU’s objective a 52% MIXED carbonate from La to Y rather disingenuous of George “Lynas being light and ours being heavy” given LAMP has been producing 500/1000tpa 98% SEG/HRE carbonate containing ~5% Dy for six years, not insignificant in the scheme of things.

          Jack can ride shotgun on the following, reports early this decade suggested China had RE capacity 400% global demand & ~40% global reserves, much of the dirtier, older capacity has been shut in the consolidation that took place mid decade, however the clearly stated objective of the current 5YP to 2020 is to further reduce capacity to 200ktpa, still well ahead of global demand, and note CNRE currently constructing a new 9600tpa plant.

          The issue is NOT Chinese capacity but their objective to push the great majority downstream thru domestic value add, particularly metals to magnets, and simultaneously magnets to motors, and so on.

          Dragon rapidly approaching the point where it no longer needs to sell REO ROW for “cabbage prices” other than probably catalyst material, that 5YP also contains an export cap that equates to 42ktpa vs 58kt 2018, as clearly stated in 2016: “You have been warned”.

          October 7, 2019 - 6:57 PM

          • Jack Lifton


            Northern has piloted ore sorting on site that improves recovery. If this is installed and implemented then the numbers may even improve. I’m in total agreement with you about 100% recovery dreams, and I couldn’t agree more about Chinas domestic demands being the true target of the 5 year plan’s supply numbers. The Lynas’ SEG/HREE still has no non Chinese home for separation. I note that Sera Verde is coming on line soon and it says it will separate its suite outside of China. Biolantanidos is targeting the same thing, but unless and until metal and alloy making outside of China is reconstructed the only destination for All of this ore production is China or its Vietnamese allies/compatriots.

            October 7, 2019 - 8:03 PM

          • Tim Ainsworth


            I take it from that comment that you don’t believe the Blueline JV is a credible prospect for the separation of Lynas SEG/HRE?

            Given a brownfield, with existing calcination assets, feedstock with ~$10kg cost base, is it Lynas separation expertise you doubt?

            Aware NTU have planned ore sorting mid next year, begs the Q why wasn’t it part of the initial process, and should help them make the 52% TREO more economically but to what extent do you think it will improve recoveries of the pay dirt given the bulk of value is contained in just 0.063% of the ore?

            Impossible Q as there simply is no data from NTU re costs, recoveries, values, remains a guessing game.

            October 8, 2019 - 12:12 AM

  • Tracy

    Here’s some breaking news for you — guess who has returned to InvestorIntel? And he will undoubtedly be able to answer these questions for you…. https://investorintel.com/investorintel-video/jack-lifton-on-canada-as-a-potential-rare-earths-supply-source-for-the-us/

    September 23, 2019 - 1:01 PM

  • Joe O

    Ucore still stuck in Litigation with IBC for MRT. But MRT was onced dubbed “The game Changer by J Lifton. IBC trying to hold on for dear life because it is. I am betting on UCORE winning its case Re: option to purchase that S Izatts trying to renege on after accepting plenty of $$$ from Ucore. We hear nothing re: MRT anymore since Ucore doesnt use Investor Intel anymore for advertising. How does game changer turn to afterthought? Politics?

    September 23, 2019 - 3:54 PM

    • Jack Lifton


      I had no part in Ucore discovering IBCAT nor in their work together (or the subsequent falling out). When I was first made aware of IBCAT the pilot plant had been built and, I was told, tested on a sample PLS from Bokan. I was taken out to American Forks, Utah, and shown the pilot plant system. I did not see it run nor did I see any data, analytical or financial, from the pilot plant. My comments at the time were based on what I was told by Ken Colison and by the management and staff of IBCAT. Based on that information I believed that the particular MRT process for rare earth separation developed by IBCAT constituted a proven at pilot scale new process for separating rare earths more rapidly than solvent extraction. I still believe that. What is now in question is whether or not the MRT process for rare earths is more economical than solvent extraction. Ucore has also in the intervening years said that MRT could be used to separate and purify essentially anything and everything from mixed aqueous solutions of metallic ions. Proving that will be a very expensive and extensive experimental regime, and proving any of that to be economical will be a challenge. I have no knowledge of the proprietary chemistry or economics of MRT as developed by IBCAT. I am now more used to and more immune to promotion and puffery by junior miners than I was even 4 or 5 years ago. As George Bernard Shaw famously said, “Too soon old, too late smart.” Mea culpa.

      September 24, 2019 - 12:10 PM

  • Joe O

    Thanks Jack
    I always appreciate your opinions and that you actually reply.

    September 24, 2019 - 2:31 PM

  • Joe O

    Still sounds like Jack actually did see this system run?

    March 7, 2016 —– ” Ucore Completes Construction of SuperLig-One Pilot Plant”. ============ ( Lifton comment from the article Aushit is now trying to use: ……… ” When I was FIRST MADE AWARE of IBCAT, the pilot plant had been built….” ………. Umm, Lyin Lifton knew of IBC back in 2014. He just said he never knew of IBC prior to the PP being built.—–( wow, wow ) ========== April 5th, 2017 : watch 1st 1:45 minutes ——– Re; Scandium and etc.,,,,,,,,, Lifton saw,,,,,,& watched MRT —– ” I toured the SuperLig pilot plant, late last year, and I have to tell you, I was astounded by it’s simplicy and I recall talking to the engineer in charge and we were at the 1st stage of the system and I said……. what’s happening and he said….well we’re taking the iron out, ….”ok”,,,,,,,, and he said —- oh and the Scandium goes with it….I said…….what do you do with that?……he said well, if you wanted we could just put another column in there and take the Scandium out……. ” I said really “……he said yea…..I said, I’ve never separation like that for Scandium……. ” you should see what goes on with Scandium “……… he well actually, that’s what we do, we got a ligand for that and it’s uhhh, quite straightforward from he solution…………. and i’ll tell you, my uhh visit went from there on up, ” I was so impressed by this system….” …….

    September 29, 2019 - 5:34 PM

    • Tracy Weslosky

      I am answering for Jack….and good morning Joe O. For starters, we do not publish links to “bullboards” so these have been deleted (1). Also, you are quoting information from 2016, more than 3 years ago, which as we all know is a hearty long time for a public company, so let’s get you discussing today (2). Now as someone who has followed the rare earths industry since 2008, a lot has changed at both UCORE and IBC Advanced Alloys in the last 3 years. And I personally, would like some updates on both of these companies. Am speaking with Jack at 2PM today and am going to recommend that he do an interview with the CEOs of both of these companies. Now Joe, before you start haranguing us, keep in mind that we INVEST in these interviews ourselves and we cannot force the company to let us interview them. And I am doing this because I AGREE with you that both companies need to update our audience, so thank you. Just don’t beat our team up please! Merci.

      October 7, 2019 - 10:17 AM

    • Jack Lifton

      IBCAT was unknown to me before Jim McKenzie told me about it. It may have been in 2014. I don’t remember, but I do remember that since there was no information on the company that I could find I didn’t spend any more time thinking about it. I remember repeatedly telling McKenzie that I could not evaluate something that I hadn’t seen or been given technical details about. Finally in late 2016 I was allowed to “tour” the “pilot plant.” I assume that it was running that day, because lights were flashing and liquids could be seen flowing through the tubes connecting the columns. However it is critical for everyone to understand that a successful experiment is one that can be duplicated and verified by a competent independent third party. I do not know what starting liquid was running in the system that day nor do I know of nor did I see any liquids tapped from downstream columns and analyzed. I was not then, my first visit to IBCAT, given permission to observe its analytical lab even just to evaluate its in-house chemical analytical facilities. I spoke with the IBCAT CEO, founder, and staff on that first visit, and I found them very knowledgeable of platinum group metals chemistry, which I have a background in, and I was intrigued by the fact that they said that before Ucore brought the separation problem to them they had not had any reason to work on separating the rare earths. I was impressed by their technical knowledge, but I cannot say that I saw the pilot plant “run.” I hope this helps clear up your confusion. Bulletin boards are notoriously populated by gamblers not technically trained chemists, physicists, or financiers. I do not follow them at all.

      October 7, 2019 - 11:08 AM

      • Tim Ainsworth

        Jack, if you do get to chat with Jim McKenzie you might like to ask him where the numbers came from for their “Annual Total US Consumption” “REO Product” estimates page 7 Sept 27 glossy?

        Extrapolation of their numbers show annual demand 16,166tpa vs USGS 2018 total just 9.800t, of which “The estimated distribution of rare earths by end use was as follows: catalysts, 60%; ceramics and glass, 15%; metallurgical applications and alloys, 10%; polishing, 10%; and other, 5%.”, suggesting total “metallurgical applications and alloys” ~980tpa.

        Particular interest would be where Jim has identified US annual demand for 155t Pr, 1718t Nd, 44t Tb & 56t Dy, reads more like a transposition of NdFeB demand than REO, perhaps a presumption?

        October 7, 2019 - 7:46 PM

  • Joe O

    Tracy and Jack
    I appreciate the responses from both of you. I agree re: bulletin boards. Alot of Manure thrown on there and I do take most of it with a grain of salt. MERCI!

    October 7, 2019 - 2:33 PM

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