Ucore Comments on Escalating HREE Supply Concerns in US Capitol
January 13, 2014 (Source: Marketwired) — Ucore Rare Metals Inc (TSX VENTURE:UCU)(OTCQX:UURAF) (“Ucore” or “the Company”) is pleased to comment on multiple recent initiatives in Washington to address the increasing lack of availability of rare earth products and magnet-making materials for domestic military and defense applications.
Concerns regarding the withdrawal of ongoing supplies of Critical Rare Earth Oxides (CREO’s) produced almost exclusively in China and consumed by US military contractors, has attracted a number of current legislative initiatives.
The National Defense Authorization Act is currently on the Senate Legislative Calendar for FY 2014. The Act proposes to authorize the National Defense Stockpile Manager to acquire several materials determined to be “strategic and critical materials required to meet the defense, industrial and essential civilian needs of the United States.” Dysprosium and yttrium, metals included in the production plan at Ucore’s Bokan facility in South East Alaska, are among the materials to be acquired under the new Act, using up to US$41 million of the National Stockpile Transaction Fund.
In January 2014, it was disclosed that the Pentagon had temporarily waived laws banning the use of Chinese-built components in U.S. weaponry in 2012 and 2013. The waiver, which has attracted significant media attention, was for the purpose of keeping the US$392 Billion F-35 Fighter Program on schedule. Specifically, Chinese built magnets were used during the last 24 months in violation of the import restrictions, in order to avoid further delays with the delivery of the jets. An investigation has now been ordered into three instances involving the use of prohibited Chinese components in the F-35 program. The investigation, authorized by US lawmakers, is being undertaken by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and is expected to be completed by March 1, 2014.
The Critical Minerals Policy Act, submitted by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R – AK), Ron Wyden (D – Ore), Mark Udall (D – Col.), Dean Heller (R – Nev.) and 13 others, was introduced in late 2013. The Act intends to prevent further supply shocks of critical materials and reduce US dependence on foreign sources through the revitalization of a domestic supply chain, including domestic production from near term facilities such as the Bokan facility in Alaska. The bipartisan bill outlines mineral-specific actions for several elements, including yttrium and scandium, materials scheduled to commence production at the Bokan project by as early as 2017.
The FY 2014 Senate Interior Appropriations Bill is in Continuing Resolution status until January 15, 2014. Senator Murkowski has now added language to the Bill re-iterating the US Forest Service’s obligation to provide reasonable access for mining within the Tongass National Forest, of direct benefit to the Bokan project, which houses material quantities CREO’s important to defense systems, such as dysprosium and yttrium.
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“We’re pleased with the ongoing support that the Bokan project continues to receive by federal lawmakers,” stated Jim McKenzie, President & CEO of Ucore. “All indicators are that the Bokan facility will be the first and only domestic producer of dysprosium on US soil when on-site production commences, thereby alleviating an issue under increasing attention in Washington.”
In October 2012, Ucore announced that the United States Department of Defense (DOD) had contracted with the Company to conduct a mineralogical and metallurgical study at Bokan. The program, managed under the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has focused on the prospective development of Bokan, America’s highest grade heavy rare earth resource disclosed under NI 43-101 regulations, to meet the requirements of the Department of Defense for an ongoing supply of critical heavy REE’s. Under the agreement, Ucore has provided DOD with the most up-to-date data on the Bokan project’s mineralogy and proprietary Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) nanotechnology research.
Bokan Mountain is the richest domestic source of three heavy rare earth elements -dysprosium, terbium, and yttrium – which are critical to several advanced weapon systems, such as stealth helicopters and precision-guided weapons. Both dysprosium and yttrium are critical to multiple US defense systems. Dysprosium is a crucial ingredient in neodymium-iron-boron magnets as a means of increasing coercivity, applications of which include aircraft actuator motors in flight control systems, landing gear, and munitions. Yttrium is critical to the defence industry applications such as the manufacture of various ceramic and glass materials required in jet engines. The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) development program relies on both Dy and Y as critical input components.
Currently, all of the world’s commercially-available heavy rare earth elements are produced in China. Ongoing production and export quotas have limited the availability of these materials to global markets. According to a March 2012 report from DOD, yttrium, terbium, and dysprosium are all considered to be “critical to the production, sustainment, or operation of significant United States military equipment,” as well as “subject to interruption of supply, based on actions or events outside the control of the government of the United States.” Yttrium, in particular, was shown to be in deficit when considering projected future domestic supply.
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About Ucore Rare Metals Inc.
Ucore Rare Metals Inc. is a development-phase mining company focused on establishing rare metal resources with near term production potential. With multiple projects across North America, Ucore’s primary focus is the 100% owned Bokan – Dotson Ridge REE property in Alaska. The Bokan – Dotson Ridge REE project is located 60 km southwest of Ketchikan, Alaska and 140 km northwest of Prince Rupert, British Columbia and has direct ocean access to the western seaboard and the Pacific Rim, a significant advantage in developing near term production facilities and limiting the capital costs associated with mine construction.
The Bokan property is particularly enriched with heavy rare earth elements, including the critical elements dysprosium, terbium and yttrium. Approximately 40% (by weight) of the rare earth elements contained on the Dotson Ridge property are heavy rare earth elements, as disclosed in the Company’s NI43-101 resource estimate technical report, filed on April 21st, 2011. The resource was completed by R. J. Robinson, a consultant from Aurora Geosciences.
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