U.S. Rare Earths determined to establish a full rare earth supply chain in the continental USA
U.S. Rare Earths, Inc. (‘USRE’, OTCBB: UREE ), which has mining claims in Idaho, Montana and Colorado, announced that it has completed its NI- 43-101 preliminary exploration and assessment in sections of its Lemhi Pass property (western Montana and eastern Idaho) showing high concentrations of critical rare earths. USRE expects to begin processing by 2017 and the Company expects to do so in the United States. The exploration record at Lemhi Pass suggests that it may hold the highest concentrations of rare earths elements in the U.S. USRE intends to revisit existing horizontal mines extending underground more than 400 meters, which have already proven to contain mineralized veins of critical rare earths.
USRE has split its claims into five distinct exploration projects: Last Chance, Diamond Creek, North Fork, Sheep Creek and Lemhi Pass. USRE had already performed NI 43-101 compliant exploration in the first three of these projects. However, the real prize based on the record is Lemhi Pass, which, the Company says “generally recognized as having some of the highest concentrations of rare earth elements in North America”. USRE has confirmed that a preliminary and NI 43-101 survey of the Lemhi Pass has shown high concentration of both critical and heavy rare earths, which has encouraged the Company to continue exploration and testing.
At the moment there is virtually no place where the critical and heavy rare earths are being processed into something useful except for China. Molycorp and Lynas Corp are processing outside of China (California and Malaysia respectively) but, so far, this activity has been limited to light rare earths (LREE).
In the U.S. and in the rest of the world there is high pressure to develop new deposits and new processing facilities as China’s production share has started to drop in response to some new capacity and – mostly – to internal restrictions related to intensifying environmental controls.
China’s export policy is an ongoing point of contention between Beijing, Washington and others before the World Trade Organization, which recently confirmed that Chinese export restrictions on rare earths, are illegal. Yet, nobody has offered any alternative to the processing of rare earths even while China’s share of the global production is expected to drop significantly if the government continues to enforce tougher environmental regulations affecting both the extraction of the raw materials and their transformation into marketable products.
USRE is one of the companies outside of China presenting itself as a comprehensive critical rare earth supplier from mining to processing. In 2013, the Company reported very aggressive drilling results thanks to the strategic use of historical data and the application of new technology. Very favorable exploration results led the company to expand its land claims to around 25,000 acres in several states including two Central Park-sized properties in accordance to data indicating the presence of very high percentages of critical rare earths. The very fact that USRE would undertake property expansion in the middle of a difficult market – as 2013 was – suggests that there is a very good reason for doing so. Indeed, in late 2013, USRE also completed a successful USD$4 million private placement even as several other companies were competing for far smaller sums. USRE can rely on a very experienced management and exploration team with many and successful years of experience in the sector and their determination to create an wholly American complete supply-chain solution, which will include a separation mill for the critical and heavy rare earth elements in the continental United States.