Beryllium: a Key Asset in TRER’s Strategy
Texas Rare Earth Resources Corp. (‘Trer’, OTCQX: TRER) explores and develops heavy rare earths (HREE). On December 6, Trer informed its shareholders that it has a good balance sheet position with sufficient resources to operate through 2014. This affords the Company ample opportunity to continue its research, even as it plans to reduce costs to improve Trer’s value as an investment opportunity. Trer has identified its main project as the development of rare earth minerals at Round Top mountain in Texas (about 85 miles east from El Paso) for which a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) has been completed in June 2012. The projected cost reductions in the next few years will be achieved by Trer’s shift away from physical exploration – for which the Company said there are no plans- in order to concentrate more on untested exploration targets. Another cog in the strategy is to sell some valuable assets. One of the main targets is Trer’s inherited beryllium deposits located under the north side of Round Top and initially explored by Cyprus Exploration (‘Cyprus’) in the late 1980’s, which published a historical standard (but not 43-101 compliant) Definitive Feasibility Study for the production of beryllium.
The beryllium mineralization structure, according to Trer, is present alongside areas of potentially economic grade uranium deposits. Trer has also found evidence to suggest that this mineralization also exists under Sierra Blanca. Based on the Cyprus results there could be as much as 298,000 short tons at 1.9% of beryllium ore, which would guarantee sufficient resources to operate for several years given that the beryllium market is rather small at around 100 tons a year. Indeed, Chairman, John Tumazos, believes that Trer’s deposits “is one of the largest and richest in the world”. The extraction process, moreover, would be based around the original tunnel built by Cyprus inside the mountain, which should be capable of yielding some 30,000 tons. Beryllium is mostly found in the United States and Kazakhstan, which also hold the only related processing facilities.
Beryllium is one of the metals slated for an appreciation of value in the next decade. It is the second lightest metal after lithium and is in high demand for its low density and high strength; therefore, many applications are in aerospace. Beryllium is also very important to the nuclear energy research because of its characteristics as a neutron generator, which allows scientists to use it a reactor proxy in lab experiments. Beryllium is an excellent thermal conductor and electrical insulator. Beryllium oxide is also being used in nuclear reactor as a moderator, or a material that allows for the energy to be controlled, which is essential in a nuclear reactor. Given its demand and future value prospects, Trer should have no problem attracting interest in its beryllium resources should it proceed with plans to monetize this asset with outside parties, eager to access this rare resource, which for once, is not dominated by China.
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