EDITOR: | February 24th, 2015 | 9 Comments

Studies suggest a cost effective domestic rare earth supply in the United States

| February 24, 2015 | 9 Comments

US Rare Earths, Inc. (OTCQB: UREE) reported in February 2015 on its promising development of low-cost metallurgical processes for the domestic production of rare earths from its Last Chance Mine is located in the Lemhi Pass Area of Idaho and Montana, which holds one of the longest identified mineralized veins in the region.

A fundamental aspect of the Company’s business approach, which is supported by independent data, is that the unique mineralogy of the Last Chance Mine provides multiple avenues for novel process development with a potential for a very significant reduction in the costs and expenses related to acid consumption in comparison to other deposit processing methods. Rare earth acid leaching typically adds a significant contribution to the process operating costs.

Test work by the Idaho Geologic Survey (IGS) addressed the separation of enriched monazite from the gangue minerals at the laboratory scale level with methods appropriate for scaled up evaluation of the unique mineralogical conditions to western MT & Eastern ID, commonly known as the Lemhi Pass Region.

During the last several quarters, the Company has pursued advanced exploration of the Last Chance Mine project, where to date over two short tons of material have already been removed, (from the mine-stockpile) and sampled for advancing metallurgical test work by arm’s length parties.

Rare Earth mineralogy test work and assays conducted by Hazen Research suggest that the main high-value rare earth minerals (dark-monazite and xenotime) are enriched in Europium and disassociated from the other gangue minerals.

More particularly work on a 1,5 ton bulk sample by Hazen Research yielded Europium content at 5.25% of total rare earth, which is consistent with the currently understood deposit grade ratios.

The initial liberation and magnetic separation tests indicate that the cost of grinding (comminution) has the potential to be greatly reduced. These tests indicate that less than 0.1% of total rare earths plus Yttrium are contained in size fractions greater than +14 mesh and that grinding to fractions less than 14 mesh may not be required for beneficiation. Mesh gives a rough estimate of particle size where 14 mesh is approximately .055 inches is related to particle size.

Initial result of magnetic separation work allows us to process only 38% of the bulk weight that has approximately double the “as mined” rare earth concentration. Downstream leaching acid consumption and processing costs will be greatly reduced from this result.

Magnetic separation was able to reject 62% of the bulk sample as waste rock with a recovery of the following assayed rare earths, based on feed to testing, La-94.1%, Ce-94.1%, Nd-93.8%, Pr-93.8%, Sm-88.2%, Eu-92.8%, Gd-91.6% and Y-93.1% in 38% of the feed. The heavy rare earth fractions were not assayed at Hazen research during these initial test sequences.

Bulk sampled material (-6 mesh) that was subjected to a series of tests that included an extensive mineral liberation and grinding study, and various types of magnetic separations conducted by Hazen Research, which included both wet magnetic and induced roll magnetic separations.

The magnetic separation work provide a higher (~2 times) concentrate of rare earth minerals for further physical beneficiation and hydrometallurgical work with the reduced ore processing of only 38% of the material and above 92% recovery.

Hazen Research conducted results from multiple leaching tests independently and SGS Mineral Services Canada yielded recoveries of 79-78% for the light to heavy rare earth fractions and demonstrated the technical feasibility of higher recoveries.

Together these results are promising, and offer to potential to provide a cost effective domestic rare earths supply in the United States. Over the next months, the editorial board of InvestorIntel will monitor the Company’s progress to report to investors.

Dr. Luc Duchesne


Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>

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  • wallbangerharvey

    Dr.–At what point does it become a simple matter of too many and too late? Evidently, there may be sufficient demand for several-plus HREE/CREO miners in the ROW geography. Perhaps two (?) in the US–maybe more-studied others can comment on that. Time is of the essence for these many ree junior miner wannabes–is UREE among that lead group?

    February 24, 2015 - 2:02 PM

  • james.c1

    UREE first needs to have a mineral resource to have the slightest chance. At the moment “which holds one of the longest identified mineralized veins in the region” is a useless description to any knowledgeable person. There is very little meaningful information provided in the above release with regard to metallurgy.

    February 25, 2015 - 3:17 AM

  • Goldprospector

    Correct James.c1, and an upgrade from OTC to a serious exchange wouldn’t hurt either.

    February 25, 2015 - 6:03 AM

  • Fred

    A small junior miner such as this may have genuine quantifiable news only a few times a year. This isn’t often enough to keep most investors interested.

    There’s a small oil and gas company that I occasionally watch. One day they may find the next big oil field, but, as a whole, they just burn through investors money. But they are always able to raise more money. This is because every few weeks they provide operational reports on their small portfolio of oil wells. This is typically reporting on fixing broken down equipment or the oil flow rates of their wells. It’s not too exciting, but it tells investors that they are actively doing things that may eventually make the investors rich.

    Oil and gas wells have many moving parts, and it’s relatively easy to create a progress report based upon routine daily activities. It’s not so easy with hard rock miners. A few months of drilling provides drill cores. These take a few more months to quantitatively analyze. Then it’s another month to create the broad geological model and describe it in ways which won’t open the company to lawsuits from inappropriately chosen words.

    So what we have here is that they note the whiff of a barbecue in the area. This isn’t as good as watching a steak sizzle on the grill, or tasting it in your mouth. But it keeps the investors interested. I feel that part of the reason that REE miners haven’t had lofty stock prices is that the REE miners haven’t been sufficiently communicating their progress with the investment community, and that they are overly cautious in this.

    February 25, 2015 - 10:32 AM

  • james.c1

    I’m of a contrary opinion on that one Fred. The REE sector is a very young one, unlike oil and gas, and on the mining and processing side western investors are only beginning to understand the questions to ask, let alone the answers.

    Over promotion by REE juniors very nearly wiped out the sector as a whole – over promising and under delivering has been the standard for most companies. To promote hard without even a resource is an extreme example, but most companies are guilty of promoting micro-gram scale results or technologies as “breakthroughs”.

    The REE sector requires credibility, not an abandonment of caution.

    February 26, 2015 - 10:52 PM

  • Fred

    That was then. These days the REE companies are so secretive, that people continuously ask for news. Exciting news may be rare, but I would like to know that there’s a sign of life in some of these companies.

    A new technology? Good! Explain it to the public. A new processing technique? Great! How does this affect CAPEX and OPEX? “Our lawyers advise us that…”

    February 26, 2015 - 11:41 PM

  • Goldprospector

    @Fred: they are so secretive because they have nothing meaningful to add as current rare earth prices render all projects non-profitable. New technologies and processing techniques in this space take at least 7-10 years to develop into a proven, commercial method, so you can immediately discard any junior promoting this, as no project funding will come their way anytime soon.

    February 27, 2015 - 11:13 AM

  • james.c1

    We are certainly on different paths there Fred.

    The challenge is to decide what a company is trying to do – is it trying (one day) make REE’s or, or just make a short term story to influence a share price. Generating PR’s about high risk technology creates some new story on the CAPEX/OPEX/NPV side, but it doesn’t get the company any closer to developing trust with a consumer who will be a financial/off take partner.

    Companies with a C class asset making regular pr’s describing normal work as “milestones” will still have a C class asset when the dust settles. Do the homework to determine A from C, and if its held by a strong and technical management team it will be a success.

    February 27, 2015 - 9:44 PM

  • Fred

    I’m skeptical that all ROW REE projects are currently uneconomic, but higher REE prices would surely be motivational to get them happening.

    As per potential new REE processing technologies, I don’t remember hearing that any REE projects are dependent upon them. The process improvements that are being actually incorporated into reports are more traditional in nature, involving physical separation of ore and early stage solvent extraction.

    The refining techniques making the news are mostly further downstream in the processing. At the moment they’re little more than teasers for investors and potential joint venture partners. They very easily could take 7 to 10 years to development, but adequate funding could shave years off of that.

    As per grade of asset, you have to spend money to see what’s there, typically millions of dollars. That comes from investors. I feel that it is the fiduciary responsibility of a company to its existing shareholders to communicate with the investing public to maintain as high a share price as possible.

    Then the lawyers remind the company executives that they could get in trouble with implied expectations being construed as forward looking statements. So nothing gets said at all. Yes, I want to hear about the day-to-day activities. Is the project moving forward, or will it be mothballed?

    By the time the project gets documented as an economically viable mine, a large chunk of the money has already been made in the stock. Tell me the drill core results as they are received, and I’ll formulate my own opinion as to whether the stock is worth investing in. I would be very happy if I could accurately figure out the viability of a mine, early in the game, only half the time.

    February 28, 2015 - 1:12 AM

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