Jack Lifton on the future of rare earths, Professor Kingsnorth, a ‘possible’ market turnaround and Molycorp
October 13, 2013 – Tracy Weslosky, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of InvestorIntel, interviews Jack Lifton, founding principal of Technology Metals Research LLC and senior editor at InvestorIntel to discusses his recent five-part series — exclusive to InvestorIntel [P1: The State of the Rare Earth Market, P2: The Driver for Global Rare Earth Demand, P3: Forecasting Chinese Rare Earth Demand, P4: China is officially shifting focus to domestic consumer demand, and P5: The Future Demand for Rare Earths] — on the future forecast of rare earths, a few words to Professor Dudley Kingsnorth, a possible rare earth market turnaround, Molycorp, why it is wrong to refer to REEs as commodities, and the urgent need for North America to develop a total rare earth supply chain, among other topics.
Addressing the very widely read ‘Lifton: Unchained’ series on InvestorIntel, Tracy asks Jack to comment on the misunderstanding regarding some of his commentary regarding Professor Kingsnorth. Jack explained he was merely underscoring some of the assumptions made in Kingsnorth’s forecast and meant no disrespect at all to Dudley. “If Dudley is listening, I certainly apologize for any misunderstanding,” explains Lifton. Jack asks InvestorIntel readers (especially commenters) to read his words carefully, and then react intellectually, not emotionally.
When Tracy asked if the REE market is turning around, Jack commented: “Because of my involvement in the industry as a consultant (and now as a board member to a couple of companies), I can tell you that there is more sophisticated interested in the rare earth market, then there has been in the last chaotic year. But the market (institutional investors on down) has now learned that it is not about ‘pounds in the ground;’ that’s not what this is about. It’s about our access to the pounds in the ground, which is not about shovels. It’s about chemistry, processing engineering and boring subjects like ‘programmable controllers’ for chemical reactors. That’s what it is about. If the chemists can come up with ways of extracting these materials from where we find them — at any level, whether it’s 100% material or .001% — if they do that economically… notice the word ‘economic’. If it’s economical, it’s practical. Otherwise, it’s not. So when you show me a mountain of high-grade material that is encased in silicate rock that cannot be processed; that’s not a (potential) mine… that’s just a curiosity.”
Jack updates readers and clarifies his position on Molycorp, explains why rare earths are, in fact, technology metals and why he doesn’t like people using the term ‘rare earths commodities.’ Finally, Jack discusses US strategy on rare earths and why it is so critical that we develop a North American total rare earth supply chain industry.
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Tracy Weslosky is the CEO of InvestorIntel Corp., a company that publishes InvestorIntel.com. A leading source for investors, entrepreneurs and industry leaders alike, InvestorIntel is ... <Read more about Tracy Weslosky>