EDITOR: | October 30th, 2019 | 6 Comments

On the threshold of a significant disruption to the domestic rare earths supply chain

| October 30, 2019 | 6 Comments

In 1992, then Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping pointed at Beijing’s objectives saying: ‘The Middle East has its oil; China has its rare earths.’ This warning bell has been a wake up call in the midst of the current US-China trade war, especially given China now supplies 81% of the world’s rare earths.

The US is now on a rapid search to find a secure source of rare earths outside of China, ideally in the USA.

Central to this rare earths supply problem is Heavy Rare Earth Elements (HREE), indispensable to a host of American industries including defence systems and artificial intelligence.

Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSXV: UCU | OTCQX: UURAF) is a well-funded development-phase mining company focused on establishing rare metal resources with near term production potential of heavy rare earths from their project in Alaska, USA.

Ucore’s three key projects include:

  • Bokan-Dotson Ridge Rare Earth Project in Alaska (Heavy Rare Earths – Dysprosium (Dy), Terbium (Tb) & Yttrium (Y)).
  • Ray Mountains Project in Alaska (REE, Sn, W, Zr ± Nb, Ta heavy minerals).
  • The SuperLig®-One pilot plant (an environmentally friendly, cost efficient separation technology for each individual rare earth element).

Bokan-Dotson Ridge Rare Earth Project

Ucore’s primary focus is the 100% owned Bokan-Dotson Ridge REE property in Alaska. The Project is located 60 km southwest of Ketchikan, Alaska.

Approximately 40% (by weight) of the rare earth elements contained on the Dotson Ridge property are heavy rare earth elements, including the critical elements Dysprosium, Terbium and Yttrium.

The Bokan-Dotson Ridge REE Project has the following benefits:

  • The highest grade heavy rare earth deposit in The U.S. (NI-43-101 compliant).
  • Excellent logistics: Only REE deposit worldwide with immediate deep water access. Accessible labour and prospective power.
  • Anomalous skew towards Dy, Tb, Y which are among the most critical high demand HREE’s.
  • Located in Alaska, one of the world’s leading mine friendly jurisdictions.
  • Advanced metallurgy and separation regimes already established.
  • Excellent local, state and federal support. In 2014 Ucore received unanimous support from the Alaska State Legislature authorizing the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) to issue up to US$145 million in bonds for the infrastructure and construction costs of the Bokan-Dotson Ridge Rare Earth Project.

Ucore’s M3 Plan of Action

Ucore’s M3 Plan to satisfy the needs of an independent American REE supply chain comprises three primary initiatives and commencing immediately:

  • Mine– Advancing the HREE mine at the Bokan-Dotson Ridge Rare Earth Project to “shovel-ready” status.
  • Metal– Developing the associated engineering for the individual REE and co-products processing and separation plant, the Alaska Strategic Metals Complex. Planned to be the first physical component of the mine, the Alaska SMC will be designed to process REE concentrate not just from the Bokan HREE Mine, but from other U.S. and U.S. allied-nation sources, into individual REE oxides for the burgeoning North American REE market.
  • Market– North American market development and cultivation of the customer base for non-Chinese REE products in the Western World.

Jim McKenzie, President & CEO of Ucore, stated: “Current international events suggest that the U.S. is now on the threshold of a significant disruption to the domestic REE supply chain.”

The longer term vision for Ucore is also to become a leading advanced technology company that provides mineral separation products and services to the mining and mineral extraction industry.

The US needs to establish a safe rare earths supply source

Rare earths, and heavy rare earths in particular, are now among the most valued, sought after, and hard to obtain metals at a world level, especially outside of the China supply chain. No other naturally occurring materials are of greater strategic importance to the U.S. in terms of competing today at an international level with China. Industries that span all manner of high-tech applications, from national defense to AI, supercomputing, energy provision, transportation, and many more are heavily reliant on rare earth materials to enable the US industry to maintain leadership and a competitive edge with the rest of the globe.

Ucore’s Latest news

Just in mid October Ucore announced: “The Company has finalized a project-specific advisory team for the purpose of designing its heavy rare earth element solvent extraction plant and processing capabilities in Southeast Alaska (the “SX Plant”), and with respect to its forthcoming anticipated proposal for near term U.S. Government funding……The Defense Production Act (DPA) Title III office this year released a request for information on potential HREE separation in the U.S., which Ucore responded to in July 2019.”

All of this means that Ucore is now firmly on the US Government’s radar and increases their chance to attract further project funding. Ucore is already well advanced and has a strong chance to progress to becoming a US rare earths supply source.


Matthew Bohlsen is a Senior Editor for InvestorIntel.com. With a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment, and a Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning. He ... <Read more about Matthew Bohlsen>

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  • Tim Ainsworth

    Matt, to lend a little credibility here can you identify who & where the US customers are at any decent scale?

    Specifically those companies with the capacity to turn REO into functional materials?

    Looking at the fall in NdFeB volumes to just 17% of China exports vs 52% to the EU it would appear the US doesn’t even manufacture much in the way of motors anymore.

    October 30, 2019 - 11:36 AM

    • Matthew Bohlsen

      I think that misses the point. Meaning the US needs to build up the entire supply chain starting with rare earths…then magnets etc…the end consumer is plentiful in the US……US military, US smartphone buyers, etc etc.

      October 31, 2019 - 6:31 AM

      • Tim Ainsworth

        Matt, THAT is the point!

        Critical DOD demand is tiny in the scheme of things, the question is not only how does US catch up on magnet IP but how does it build the scale to be remotely competitive with China?

        OEM’s don’t buy REO, they buy functional materials, and components enabled by those functional materials.

        THAT requires a competitive middle supply chain which simply doesn’t exist in US, and I’d point out that is not for want of abundant cheap REO for the past 5/6 years.

        November 26, 2019 - 3:05 PM

  • Ree Joey

    Clearly a unique company that can go a long way to creating an all-American REE industry. The metals processing would start up earlier than the mine opening and process ore from the non-Chinese world–made readily assessable to cost-effective oceanic shipping via a nearby year-round port strategically located on the Pac Rim. The company has arranged for $145 million backing from the State of Alaska and just completed an $8 million cash raise. Truly a unique American asset. Not just another REE mine located in the remote and frozen tundra of the Canadian North..

    October 30, 2019 - 7:11 PM

  • Alex King

    Minor fact-check: Deng Xiaoping was the Paramount Leader of the PRC from 1978 to ’89. His famous rare earth comment was made in 1992, when he was retired and Yang Shangkun was the President.

    October 31, 2019 - 10:39 AM

  • Bill

    What’s the state of Ucores litigation in Utah regarding the use of SuperLig tech. Isn’t their use of this Tech for the pilot plant in legal dispute.

    October 31, 2019 - 7:19 PM

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