EDITOR: | March 9th, 2015 | 29 Comments

Lifton on Ucore’s MRT: Rare earth technology officially overtakes geology

| March 09, 2015 | 29 Comments
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1MRT Revolution, No; Evolution, Yes.

Science and technology are not the same thing. Technology is the application of science for practical purposes the main one of which is to reduce the need for human labor and the second most important of which is to perform functions impossible for a human being without the use of the technology.

In the late 1930s scientists theorized that if one could separate from “naturally “ occurring uranium the isotope U-235, which is present in natural ores at a concentration of 0.7% of the total of U-238, then one could build a device using a critical mass and geometry from the U-235 that would release an enormous amount of energy in a very short time. Further it was realized the simple process of dividing the calculated “critical mass” of such material into, for example, two halves would create a method of utilizing such a material in a bomb, where an irreversible and self-sustaining “fission” of the U-235 could be initiated by merely uniting the divided halves into a critical mass.

All of the above was theory, supported by key laboratory sized experiments and by novel explanations of experiments for which there was no better explanation.

The fly in the ointment was that to “prove” the theory that U-235 could act in such a way when in a critical mass would require a focused massive and unique industrial effort to apply known and theoretical techniques for the separation of materials differing by tint amounts of “weight” in relatively huge amounts.

Within a year of the “discovery” of nuclear fission the US President assembled a committee of the nations best scientists to address the technological feasibility of trying to produce enough U-235 (and even more remotely to try to produce enough of element 94, plutonium) to test the theory of making a bomb utilizing the self-sustaining fission of a critical mass of U-235 (or Pu-239).

2The greatest engineering project in the history of the world began under the code name of “the Manhattan Project.” the purpose of which was to produce both U-235 and plutonium in quantities sufficient to manufacture “atomic bombs” and then to test them to see if they worked, and even if so, if they could be controlled and mass produced.

Only the government of a wealthy nation with a large industrial manufacturing base could even possibly undertake such a task.

The successful completion of the Manhattan Project, the most expensive manufacturing project ever undertaken, is the reason we live today in a world dominated by labor saving and mind enhancing technologies allowing easy mass communication, computation, and the production of non-fossil fuel energy.

It is also the reason that the pure sciences now take second place in the public mind to technologies. It is no longer Albert Einstein who is lionized but rarer it is Steve Jobs; it should be Jonas Salk, but to be fair, he did not mass produce the polio vaccine; he created it.

Nobel prizes tend to be given not to theoreticians but to those who prove theories by experiment-this is science in its purest form.

Molecular Recognition Technology is the commercialization of pure scientific research originally done in France and America by Prof Jean-Marie Lehn, who was awarded the 1987 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pioneering work over the previous 25 years in synthesizing what he calls “cryptans,” a type of host-guest molecular assembly created by intermolecular interactions. which others call a class of super-molecules. and call their study Supramolecular chemistry. Professor Lehn’s work was in synthetic organic chemistry; he was trying to, and did, create molecules that could selectively abstract , and in that way concentrate, mixtures of organic molecules differing by just a few atoms-even by just ONE-into their individual molecular components. He literally crafted molecules known as “crown ethers” that had geometries such that one and only one molecule of a particular shape could fit in a “cage” that was part of the molecule. Once the cages were filled the capturing molecules could be isolated and the caged molecules freed (excuse the anthropomorphizing of the process, but it is the easiest way to visualize it).

Professor Lehn’s work has had wide application in synthetic organic chemistry in general and in pharmaceutical research in particular where the difference between two nearly identical molecules may be the key to their biological activity.

The selective extraction of individual atomic species of inorganic materials by supramolecular chemistry was at first only of interest to those looking at cleaning toxins from living matter and separating small amounts of desired specific molecules from previously unresolvable mixes. Certainly there was little interest at first from the hydrometallurgists who then as now used nineteenth century techniques and technologies to extract and purify base metals from their ores. The cyanide extraction of gold and silver, for example, is nearly 200 years old. The electrolytic refining of copper and aluminum are both conducted today in almost the same way they were first done in the late nineteenth century.

Rare earth extraction from ores (colloquially known as “cracking”) by “common” reagents such as sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid; caustic soda (sodium hydroxide), and caustic potash (potassium hydroxide), or mixtures or sequences of them is the same methodology and uses the same reagents that have been used for nearly two centuries. There has been a change though in the technology of separating them since the early twentieth century.

The separation of closely related metallic ions as well as of closely related organic chemicals was done at the end of the nineteenth century by a technique called fractional crystallization. Madame Curie recrystallized the process leach solution she had extracted from pitchblende, an ore of Uranium, some 4000 times over the period of several months. Each time the slightly more soluble (than uranium) radium salt was left in the supernatant liquid and after 4,000 recrystallizations she was able to produce a single gram of a radium salt from several tons of pitchblende.

A similar methodology was used to separate the rare earths from each other after the invention of spectroscopy showed that rare earth “ores” were in fact always mixtures of many “rare earths.” The problem was that the chemical properties of these elements was determined by a unique electronic configuration, which was in fact the reason that they are always found together in nature. It was however simply practical bench chemistry without much theory involved that brought about their separation by fractional crystallization. Guessing that the rare earths had to have some differences chemically early researchers just kept reiterating fractional crystallization until in many cases they could after many many iterations identify different rare earths. Early (late nineteenth century) emission spectroscopy enabled chemists to determine when they had different rare earths and when no further recrystallizations made a difference. This was hammer and tongs chemistry.

In the 1920s a technique called solvent extraction was applied to the separation of neodymium from the other rare earths and it worked. SX was faster and cheaper than fractional crystallization and so a technology came into existence that could be used commercially if there were a demand driver.

8This driver occurred in the early 1960s when a demand for pure europium for making cathodoluminescent phosphors for true color television displays came into being. Molycorp in the USA and Rhone-Poulenc in France respond to the challenge by commissioning the first commercial scale SX plants for separating the rare earths from one another. Molycorp chose to focus on producing only europium, present as 0.1% of the total rare earths in its large bastnaesite deposit at Mountain Pass, California. Rhone Poulenc decided to engineer an SX system that could separate all of the rare earths from each other. The world’s first SX systems for large scale production of separated rare earths this were then built at Mountain Pass, California and at Larochelle, France.

When China found that it had large deposits of bastnaesite in Inner Mongolia, in the 1970s, it went forward with developing a domestic rare earth industry using the then best practices technology, SX.

In the 1980s a demand for the mid-range rare earths, samarium, europium, and gadolinium, was expanded by successful magnet developmental research to include the heavy rare earth, dysprosium, as a modifier of the properties of the neodymium-iron-boron permanent magnet then going into wide-spread use as a replacement for iron based magnets. At the same time the HREEs, terbium and erbium, were in demand for specialty alloys, phosphors, and fiber optics.

At this time the Chinese had a bit of luck. There were found in Sichuan Province (southern China) deposits that came to be known as ionic adsorption clays, which contained heavy rare earths solubilized by simple aqueous solutions of ammonium sulphate, a readily available chemical . Although these deposits were very low “grade” on the order of 50-500 ppm they were typically of more than 2/3 HREEs and contained very little thorium or uranium.

Since the production of rare earth enabled components that required HREEs was rapidly moving to China by the late 1980s there was then no incentive to look for HREE deposits outside of China.

That situation only began to change 20 years later when after for all intents and purposes the global production of all rare earths was done in China. There had been outside of China almost no research whatsoever in the separation of the rare earths during that time nor was there any exploration for HREE, or even, LREE deposits outside of China.

Around 2007 that situation began to change. It was clear by then that many militarily critical components of modern weapons systems and their delivery vehicles were critically dependent on rare earth enabled components and devices. Both exploration for rare earths deposits outside of China and the study of separation technologies for processing rare earth ores were revived. The exploration by “juniors” (i.e., exploration or not yet producing) got all of the press attention, but that didn’t mean that there was no separation technology research and development.

In fact IBC Advanced Technologies founded in the 1980s by Reed Izzat, Phd, a former DuPont research scientist who had worked with MRT for 25 years or more, had been successfully applying MRT to the recovery and separation of rare metals from low grade ores, residues, and scrap. He asked his staff to look at the problems of separating the rare earths from the radioactive elements with which they are found as well as from the elements that interfere with SX, such as iron, aluminum, P (as PO4), and F (as F-). IBC AT then decided to look at the separation of the rare earths individually and their purification by the unitary technique of MRT.

In 2013

UCORE Rare Metals Inc. (TSXV: UCU | OTCQX: UURAF) approached IBC AT after its CEO, Jim Mackenzie, heard about their work with rare earths. By the fall of 2014 IBC AT had spent more than a year working with the UCORE mineralogy at Bokan Mountain.

On Monday morning, March 2, 2015, I attended a press conference in Toronto at which Jim Mackenzie displayed a glass vial in which were 5-10 grams of 99.9% dysprosium carbonate produced using MRT on a process leach solution created from ore produced at UCORE’s Bokan Mountain deposits.

I believe that this is the first pure dysprosium compound produced in North America using American technology from American ore. The press conference was told that in fact all of the rare earths present in the Bokan Mountain ore had been individually separated by IBC AT at Bench Scale using MRT with proprietary ligands developed by the company and that the ligands can be and are produced in large volumes for commercial applications by the company.

The next step for UCORE is the commissioning of a pilot plant to produce separated rare earths in metric tons per annum. When that is accomplished and when the economics are determined for a full scale multi thousand ton MRT processing/separation plant then, if the economics work against SX, UCORE will be well on the way to becoming a domestic American producer of fine rare earth chemicals from its hard rock deposit competitively with Chinese production from its ionic adsorption clays.

SaltsI am following not only MRT closely but also CIC/CIX and accelerated SX as the technologies of choice for the separation of HREEs individually. One of them or all of them or all of them may become the technology of choice depending on the type of ore being processed. That is for overall economics to decide. At the moment MRT is ahead.

The Chinese government’s moves, announced as finalized last week and reported yesterday by Hongpo on InvestorIntel, to completely restructure the Chinese rare earth industry mean to me that the future of the security of supply of HREEs as raw materials from China to the outside world is coming to an end, or is at an end.

Fortunately the North American, Canadian, and European hydrometallurgical industries are up to the challenge as the development of MRT, CIC/CIX, accelerated SX, and perhaps even of electrolytic and chromatographic technologies attest.

Watch out for Chinese rare earth industry players; they are coming to North America, Europe, and Australia. They will be in the market not only for rare earths but also for rare earth separation technologies.

And keep your eye on those companies already ahead of the pack in utilizing either the newer or the improved traditional separation technologies. Consolidation is in the air, and at current share prices, UCORE Rare Metals Inc., Texas Rare Earth Resources Corp. and Rare Element Resources Ltd. are a bargain in the USA markets.

Its all about economics, not science, nor technology.

[Note from the Publisher: Special thanks to the Photographer Byron Fillmore of Ucore Rare Metals Inc. All of the companies that Mr. Jack Lifton consults for, including Advisory Board and Board positions are listed below in his biography.]


Jack Lifton

Editor:

Jack Lifton is the CEO for Jack Lifton, LLC and is a consultant, author, and lecturer on the market fundamentals of technology metals. Technology metals ... <Read more about Jack Lifton>


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Comments

  • Jackie Jackie

    Rare earth technology officially overtakes geology – is that another vote Jack

    To date Ucore has not yet demonstrated that it can produce high purity REEs at the pilot plant level economically, using MRT – now how long will that take?

    As MRT technology hasn’t been used commercially in the REE space, that indicates there are knowledge gaps – so it could take a lot of time and money to fill these knowledge gaps.

    What has been achieved at laboratory by Ucore using MRT is an “outstanding accomplishment”, but it appears they could still have a long way to go …… it is one thing to do this at the laboratory level and yet quite another to do it at the pilot plant level.

    Remember Ucore were in exactly the same situation before with the now discarded “solid phase extraction” technology – proven at laboratory level but not at pilot plant level.

    Now for some perspective based on fact:- Ucore’s $2.9 million deal with IBC doesn’t go through until the pilot plant is proven to be successful, so even Ucore knows that they are not there yet.

    March 9, 2015 - 12:08 PM

  • hackenzac

    I had my undergraduate biochemistry in the same building that kitchen chemist Jonas Salk did his Nobel Prize work so yay to science versus technology. Technology is applied science and an important distinction. So is the one between accuracy versus precision especially in analogizing. The Manhattan Project was warfare of the highest order still to this day and polio was personal mission of FDR. I doubt that you would have voted for him even if you are old enough to have sent a dime in. Sniffles about “science by news release” are mostly just sour grapes. Don’t underestimate the value of being a telcom entrepreneur like Jim McKenzie. After the Bell system break up it was pretty wild west. Anyone remember Teligent? Howabout Terabeam? Ucore knows how to do public relations, schmooze important relationships aggressively market and most importantly, seize an opportunity. Frankly your average geology guy just doesn’t have the skill set case in point just for example, high grade asset and vertically integrated GWMG or a guy who expects it to hit the scientific literature first.That’s business. It may be war it ain’t WW2. Aggressively market with a superior model or the world is not going to beat a path to your door.

    March 9, 2015 - 12:37 PM

  • hackenzac

    JackieJackie
    You’re using Ben Kramer-Millers backhanded praise piece from Seeking Alpha verbatim. If you can’t formulate your own argument using your own language, then don’t. Thank you.

    March 9, 2015 - 12:40 PM

  • Mr.Jimmy

    It would appear the market could care less about Ucore or their MRT separation thing-a-ma-jiggy. I wonder why that is? Now what are we to do?

    March 9, 2015 - 3:08 PM

  • JOE O

    What are we to do?
    Well how about come back in 3 years and see how it went?
    This is a LT spec Hold- and its gonna be awhile. But if it does pan out 10x potential for sure If not – it will look like GWM

    March 9, 2015 - 3:16 PM

  • walbangerharvey

    The writing is on the [Great] Wall–the security of HREE as raw materials from China to ROW is coming to an end, or already is at an end. Eventually, perhaps the West will learn that China only knows how to play hardball and they are determined to win at games, including this ree game, even if they have to change the rules before a game is over. In China’s increasingly nationalistic economics, “Papa Xi” (there now is an effort by the CCP to transform Xi into China’s first new cult hero since Chairman Mao) has shown that a more powerful and more wealthy China is all that matters. When will the West wise up to this cutthroat competition and awaken from its ree stupor? What will it take to jar the United States into real action? If not soon, this could get real ugly.

    March 9, 2015 - 3:23 PM

  • Lid

    maybe it is too early to say that before it proves it self as a viable alternative separation technology to other means, also, no people want to talk or mention the residue after REEs are separated from the rest of elements. when people talk about separation, they should talk about the whole, not only a part of it. Geology is the foundation, removing the foundation will left nothing, even advanced technology, if it is build on rich geology, it will perform better than build on poor geology. that is obvious.

    March 9, 2015 - 5:25 PM

  • Lou

    I have no background or expertise in either chemistry or engineering. My grasp of MRT is informed by Ken Collison’s presentation in Singapore and Jack’s description of the process as described above. If you want to hear some industrial strength anthropomorphizing, check out Collison’s description of the process at the Singapore presentation on the Ucore website. Said Collison: (I paraphrase) For some rare earths, the attraction of the element to the ligand is “love at first sight. Other elements have to be wooed.”

    IBC says that it has developed proprietary ligands to separate out all the rare earths from one another. Being a trusting soul, I take them at their word. It seems to me that having accomplished that, one could conclude that much of the heavy lifting has been done. I am not an engineer, but it seems to me that scaling up the process falls into the category of efficient mechanics and design configuration. The chemistry between elements and ligands remains the same. I wonder why there is so much “the jury is still out” talk about scaling up MRT. IBC has done it in other non rare earth applications.

    March 9, 2015 - 9:24 PM

  • Fixed

    Watch out for Chinese rare earth industry players; they are coming to North America, Europe, and Australia. They will be in the market not only for rare earths but also for rare earth separation technologies. – See more at: http://investorintel.wpengine.com/rare-earth-intel/rare-earth-technology-officially-overtakes-geology/#sthash.OyHJswow.dpuf. Seriously…lol…Cmon Jack, is China that stupid that they have no Idea on future separation technology?… This is absurd… UCU has produced what again? now add that together with the rest of your “Fab Four” and what do you have?….and you have the gall to think all of the sudden China is chasing after your fab four wake up if China wanted it they would already have it…lol… Experts…lol…sheese…

    March 9, 2015 - 9:29 PM

  • Alvarita

    Lou,
    There is so much talk about “the jury is still out” because it is still out. Even the “experts” agree that until it is proven cost effective at least on a pilot plant scale, it’s nothing more than a concept that supposedly worked on a bench scale. If you are the trusting type then you probably believed in the SPE hype as well. If you also believe that one solution fits all metals or elements, I suggest some research is in order. Or, blindly believe everything you read and bet the farm. You won’t be the first or last person to go that route.

    March 9, 2015 - 9:55 PM

  • Alex

    The cost of organic liquides are ussially expensive then inorganic acids, so the most important costs of those process, but as a result it will be only concentrate 90-95% of REE elements. It is not value market product, so you have to sale it to ordinary purification plant for producing 99,9-99,999 purity which usially use in products, more over it is also semi-product.
    And generally you need to understand who will your Buyer to make design of process at processing Plant. If you plan to use it in magnets you need not may be purify La and Ce , just get didim. You also need not to separate didim on Nd and Pr. If you seperated it – you have to use Pr at any form. If you need Nd for metal alloys or magnet you need different level of Fe impurity. If you need Nd2O3 for optick grade or laser grade you need very low less then 1 ppm level of impurity, so this case you need to use PVH tubes, pumps and purity acids – other you need not because Fe is component of ND-FE-B magnets and it is not neccessery to purify from Fe . This is important when you choose the design of Plant and CAPEX result.
    Any case you need many different processing plants – in China there are 150 plants not because of competition only – that is because different materials need different Plants design

    March 9, 2015 - 11:23 PM

  • Lou

    Alvarita:
    I do not deny that the jury is actually still out on the efficacy at scale and the cost effectiveness at scale of the MRT technology as applied to separating rare earth elements. If I buy the stock before the viability and probability of success of the project is proven, I am aware that I am taking a bigger risk in the hope of a bigger reward. I try to inform myself the best I can, but its a gamble for sure. In the penny stock arena, I think the element of “foolish hope” is over-represented.

    You wrote: “Even the “experts” agree that until it is proven cost effective at least on a pilot plant scale, it’s nothing more than a concept that supposedly worked on a bench scale.”. Your use of the word “supposedly” and putting the word “experts” in quotations suggests to me that perhaps you are the type of investor who is willing to “give up” some of the reward in exchange for diminished risk. Also you do not easily act on faith when it comes to “experts”. Nothing wrong with that investment style.

    March 9, 2015 - 11:49 PM

  • Fred

    MrJimmy, it isn’t that the market doesn’t care about Ucore. Ucore is staring at funding from Alaska, and the pressure is there to keep the company American. China is slowly making moves to source its REE supplies from the ROW. Since Ucore perhaps isn’t the most likely to link up with the Chinese, it’ll have to hitch a ride on a different train.

    Alex, Ucore doesn’t have to be everything to everyone. Nor does MRT technology. But if you want to produce alcoholic beverages, 99% pure alcohol is a good start. Same with REEs.

    March 10, 2015 - 12:31 AM

  • hackenzac

    Alvarita who is infamous board troll Goober in drag is no lady LOL and previously seen around here as herbwellis and the dopinator says “Even the “experts” agree that until it is proven cost effective at least on a pilot plant scale, it’s nothing more than a concept that supposedly worked on a bench scale”. It’s more than a concept miss Alvarita. They didn’t just supposedly work it out on a bench. They did it for real. It’s a big deal. Do you see the picture of the test tubes? Call me a dummy but I see proof that MRT does a superlative job of separation. You’re a Ucore basher. That is all. You actually were thrown off of Stockhouse permanently for being a scary sociopath. That’s for real as well.

    March 10, 2015 - 12:47 AM

  • Investor

    A lot of ifs and buts however so far journalism is the only winner. Long way to go for these new technologies, Jack knows this! Ucore may be the other winner for the time being, however good geologist/mining engineer will tell you how good really is UCORE’s deposit. That is why in this case technology could overtake geology.

    March 10, 2015 - 1:41 AM

  • Alvarita

    Yes, I saw the test tube picture. I’ve also seen pictures of a fusion reaction generated in a laboratory that lasted about a billionth of a second many years ago and to date there are no fusion reactors up and running. You wrote “Call me a dummy but I see proof that MRT does a superlative job of separation.” I’ll gladly take you up on the offer until there is proof that the process works at least on a pilot plant scale and can be implemented at a cost allowing any amount of profitability on a commercial scale. As a cautious investor I’d also like to see the results independently verified. It would appear that Ucore isn’t handing over any money until they’re sure it will work as well, based on the conditions outlined in the press release. By the way, the personal attacks are understandable considering your recent removal from the Stockhouse boards. Keep up the good work.

    March 10, 2015 - 3:59 AM

  • Tracy Weslosky

    Alright – I am back. It seems in looking sideways yesterday, we accumulated a half a dozen nonsensical comments that break the InvestorIntel commitment for a zero tolerance for vitriolic commentary. If you see your comment deleted, chances are your either guilty of this or you were trying to reprimand the guilty party. Obviously both had to be discarded. Jack has invested a great deal of time carving out an excellent commentary on the MRT extraction processes, which are — complicated. Let’s try and stay on point here please or call me and you can write a column. Investors only please.

    March 10, 2015 - 7:41 AM

  • Cem Ozyakup

    MRT is used for PGMs commercially. A kilo of platinum is $ 36,651.85, and some others in the group more expensive! The current REE basket costs / prices are a little different from this.

    If REE separation by MRT would incur similar costs, then its chances look pretty bleak. They need to not just improve, but cut costs by about 3000 times, ignoring other contributing factors, which I am sure, is a wrong assumption. But maybe it gives some idea about the task ahead of MRT technology for it to be viable for the rare earths sector…

    March 10, 2015 - 8:05 AM

  • Jack Lifton

    Hakenzac,

    I agree with your points, and you made me think of my own early college “career.” I was a first year student at the University of Chicago in 1958. I had passed the exams that allowed me to skip the first two years of chemistry, but, of course, I had to take biology, and dutifully cut up a (dead) frog. The class was in a building where the stands had stood when it was (and still was )Stagg Field. One day the instructor told us that directly under us was dozens of cubic feet of concrete and lead within which were buried the remants of Enrico Fermi’s first (and the world’s first) successful nuclear “reactor.” I never have forgotten that moment. Later that quarter I met Prof Seaborg, and, as a boy does, I dreamt that I was in the company of giants. There’s no doubt that Nobel prize winners are the mentors of future Nobel Prize winners as much by their determination as by their brilliance, and there’s also no doubt that successful businessmen are necessary for successful businesses. The lack of successful managers in the junior mining space is palpable.

    Jack

    March 10, 2015 - 8:42 AM

  • David Mortimer

    Ucore really is on its way now looking forward to the next couple of years and taking the journey with Ucore into production.

    March 10, 2015 - 9:41 AM

  • InvestorIntelReport: Mark Smith, Rare Earths and Technology Metals Rebound while the Uranium Bull Awakens. | InvestorIntel

    […] with Jack Lifton this morning as I was cleaning up the misguided commentary under what was an outstanding piece on Ucore Rare Metals Inc.’s (TSXV: UCU | OTCQX: UURAF) Molecular Recognition Technology. He said […]

    March 10, 2015 - 12:29 PM

  • Steve Mackowski

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    http://www.chonday.com/Videos/the-writer-automation

    March 10, 2015 - 9:26 PM

  • Fred

    Cem Ozyakup, you state the price of platinum, and then refer to “similar costs”. If the cost of extracting the platinum were the same as its price, there would be no one reclaiming platinum with MRT. IBC says its MRT is also used in copper processing, which has a significantly lower “basket price”.

    Japan is exploring whether IBC’s MRT could clean the radioactivity out of the seawater from their nuclear disaster. If IBC were to be successful at this, I would be very interested in whether they could extract gold or other high value elements from sea water. While gold isn’t very soluble in seawater, there is supposedly more gold dissolved in seawater than could be mined on land. Perhaps IBC and Ucore could keep this in mind when they develop their pilot processing plant. After all, Ucore’s planned mine is located right on the Pacific Ocean.

    March 10, 2015 - 11:57 PM

  • Cem Ozyakup

    Fred,

    Sure, point taken, re cost versus the price. Although, I guess you don’t suggest IBC operates in a bubble, dictating a price tag, with a margin of over 3000 times the costs involved? The price ought to reflect the costs involved in an open market to a certain degree, unless there is no competition. What we don’t know is what percentage of this relates to MRT, which I have admitted, is, a wrong assumption.

    I don’t like to be skeptical or cynical, as I know most of the greatest discoveries that we take granted today, were made against all the odds, notwithstanding such adverse mentality. I am ill-informed about capital and running costs of MRT, but what I am trying to say, on the outlook as a layman, is that the leeway that there is for MRT for Platinum Group Metals production, does not seem to exist for Rare Earths.

    It would be very interesting to be demonstrated otherwise, and it might well be so if MRT is also used for copper production, as you say. Is this mass copper processing?

    The amount of gold dissolved in the sea water is immaterial, what matters is the percentage of it. There is a lot of sea water around the world, to filter through molecular recognition!

    March 11, 2015 - 7:51 AM

  • Fred

    The MRT in copper production is to pull impurities out of it, rather than to pull the copper itself. If the MRT was that expensive, it wouldn’t have even been contemplated for this.

    I agree that the percentage of gold in seawater has to be incredibly small. But so are the radioactive elements in the seawater that the Japanese are seeking to clean. If MRT is successful at this, it could pull other elements out of seawater. While attempting to do something and actually doing it are two different things, the Japanese are sufficiently optimistic of the possibilities to spend money on it.

    March 11, 2015 - 12:00 PM

  • Cem Ozyakup

    Cost of MRT to clean up radioactivity from the seawater which is used to contain the leak from Fukushima, is rather immaterial to Japanese. Estimates of the total economic loss from this disaster range from $250-$500 billion US. 159,128 people had been evicted from the exclusion zones, losing their homes and virtually all their possessions.

    March 12, 2015 - 6:03 AM

  • Cem Ozyakup

    Oh, and by the way, the seawater which is poured upon each of the melted cores in Fukushima becomes intensely radioactive, not like the traces of gold, you are wishful Ucore could extract with IBC’s MRT

    March 12, 2015 - 9:00 AM

  • Fred

    I don’t think there will be any volunteers to get too close to the super-radioactive seawater. By it’s nature, Ucore will be dealing with very low concentrations of what they attempt to extract. And if it works, it works. If it doesn’t, Japan pays the bill.

    March 12, 2015 - 10:40 AM

  • Jackie Jackie

    What will Ucore have if MRT fails to scale up = nothing is my guess

    It will be back to the drawing board and starting all over again, years behind the competition.

    March 14, 2015 - 5:09 PM

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