Imperial Mining’s Peter Cashin update on building a North American supply chain for scandium and niobium

In a recent InvestorIntel interview, Chris Thompson speaks with Peter Cashin, President and CEO of Imperial Mining Group Ltd. (TSXV: IPG | OTCQB: IMPNF) about Imperial’s Crater Lake scandium and rare earths project. Touching on why these critical materials are valuable for an ESG investor to consider in their portfolio, Analyst Chris Thompson asks a wide range of compelling questions from extraction technology to where Imperial Mining is in the process towards building a North American supply chain for scandium.

Starting with an overview on the competitive applications for scandium and niobium, which includes the lightweighting of steel and aluminum for use in the automotive and aerospace sectors, Peter explains that Imperial Mining is anticipating a 43-101 resource estimation on the TG Zone expected in the next few weeks. Highlighting Crater Lake’s high-grade surface scandium mineralization and ‘very high grades of niobium and tantalum’, Peter explains that a strategic marketing effort in conjunction with a sustainable supply source of these critical materials will most assuredly affect the demand.

To watch the full interview, click here

About Imperial Mining Group Ltd.

Imperial is a Canadian mineral exploration and development company focused on the advancement of its technology metals projects in Québec. Imperial is publicly listed on the TSX Venture Exchange as “IPG” and on the OTCQB Exchange as “IMPNF” and is led by an experienced team of mineral exploration and development professionals with a strong track record of mineral deposit discovery in numerous metal commodities.

To learn more about Imperial Mining Group Ltd., click here

Disclaimer: Imperial Mining Group Ltd. is an advertorial member of InvestorIntel Corp.

This interview, which was produced by InvestorIntel Corp. (IIC) does not contain, nor does it purport to contain, a summary of all the material information concerning the “Company” being interviewed. IIC offers no representations or warranties that any of the information contained in this interview is accurate or complete.

This presentation may contain“forward-looking statements” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation. Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions and assumptions of management of the Company as of the date made. They are inherently susceptible to uncertainty and other factors that could cause actual events/results to differ materially from these forward-looking statements. Additional risks and uncertainties, including those that the Company does not know about now or that it currently deems immaterial, may also adversely affect the Company’s business or any investment therein.

Any projections given are principally intended for use as objectives and are not intended, and should not be taken,  as assurances that the projected results will be obtained by the Company. The assumptions used may not prove to be accurate and a potential decline in the Company’s financial condition or results of operations may negatively impact the value of its securities. Prospective investors are urged to review the Company’s profile on and to carry out independent investigations in order to determine their interest in investing in the Company.

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With recent moves in the USA towards supporting key critical mining projects, will NioCorp Developments make the list?

Critical metals scandium, titanium, and niobium are all doing well as global demand for metals remains robust in 2021. In May 2018, the U.S Interior Department moved to include niobium, scandium, and titanium onto its list of critical minerals. These three critical metals have targeted applications in clean energy, aerospace/commercial aviation, defense, and automotive. Generally speaking, they are used to lighten and strengthen alloys. For example, scandium is a key lightweighting metal used in aluminum alloys as well as in fuel cells. Niobium is used to strengthen stainless steel. Titanium is very well known for its strength-to-weight ratio, as it is as strong as steel but weighs about half as much.

As we move to a world of electric vehicles (EVs), lightweighting is a key component to improve performance and range. For example, $9 of niobium added to a mid-sized car reduces weight by 100kg, increasing fuel efficiency by 5%. $1-1.5 million of scandium in a single airliner offers >$9 million of net present value in fuel savings. (source)

Niobium and scandium uses

Today we take a look at a USA based junior miner that has all three of these valuable critical elements.

NioCorp Developments Ltd (TSX: NB | OTCQX: NIOBF) (“NioCorp”) is developing North America’s only niobium, scandium, titanium, rare earths elements project, located near Elk Creek, Nebraska, USA. The Elk Creek Superalloy Materials Project is the highest grade niobium project in North America, as well as the largest prospective producer of scandium in the world. The Project is a large underground hard-rock deposit containing an estimated 250,000 tons of niobium pentoxide, 2,300 tons of scandium, and 891,000 tons of titanium dioxide. There are also some rare earths, as discussed later.

Some reasons why NioCorp’s Elk Creek Superalloy Materials Project is unique:

  • A pure-play critical minerals and rare earths element company.
  • All of NioCorp’s planned products have been designated as “critical minerals” by the U.S. government.
  • Tier one project location in Nebraska, USA.
  • The Project enjoys strong community, as well as state and local government support.
  • Strong focus on sustainability and ESG principles.
  • Large resource with a 36-year long mine life.
  • Feasibility Study – Post-tax NPV of US$1.7 billion, post-tax IRR of 21.7%, initial CapEx US$1 billion.
  • Much of the planned production in the first 10 years is pre-sold.
  • 100% of the Project’s projected FeNb production in the first 10 years is under sales contract or Letter of Intent, and 12% of its projected scandium is under sales contract.
  • All permits needed to start construction have been secured.
  • The NioCorp Board and management team have more than 200 years of collective experience in minerals development.

All that is left to do is for NioCorp to raise the project funding. Given the recent moves in the USA towards supporting key critical mining projects, it is hoped that soon NioCorp can be a beneficiary.

NioCorp recently raised C$6.2 million, extended their land at Elk Creek, and works on recovering rare earths

Regarding the C$6.2 million raise, NioCorp stated: “Proceeds of the private placement will be used for continued advancement of the Company’s Elk Creek Superalloy Materials Project, including ongoing detailed engineering efforts, conducting technical assessments of potentially adding rare earth products to the planned product offering, and for working capital and general corporate purposes.”

NioCorp now owns the surface land on which the Elk Creek Project’s mine infrastructure and support operations will be located. Ownership of the land also gives NioCorp ownership of the mineral rights to more than 90% of the Project’s Mineral Resource and Mineral Reserve. The purchase price was approximately $6.2 million.

In other recent news, NioCorp is working on enhancing their metallurgical processes to potentially also recover rare earth oxides. NoCorp stated: “The Company is currently evaluating next steps in its overall metallurgical test work program, which will focus on optimizing and streamlining the existing processing flowsheet as well as establishing process routes for the potential recovery of rare earth products. The rare earth products that are of most interest to the Company at present are Neodymium-Praseodymium (“NdPr”) oxide, Terbium oxide and Dysprosium oxide.”

The niobium, scandium, and titanium markets summary

Source: NioCorp company presentation

Closing remarks

NioCorp is now an advanced stage critical metals developer, located in Nebraska USA. Their Elk Creek Superalloy Materials Project contains economically viable niobium, scandium, titanium, and potentially some rare earths.

A strong Feasibility Study has been produced, all permits to construction are in place, and the project now awaits funding. As a sign of support for the project, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts nominated the Project as a “National High-Priority Infrastructure” Project to the White House.

NioCorp Developments trades on a market cap of C$333 million (US$269 million) and is well worth following.

Rare earths and scandium drill results at Imperial’s Crater Lake continue to ‘exceed all expectations’

As electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers focus on achieving great energy efficiency and range lightweighting using a scandium-aluminum alloy continues to gain traction. By lowering a vehicle’s weight the range can either be improved or if kept the same the cost can be reduced by using fewer batteries.

Scandium oxide demand has potential to rise from 175 tpa to 5,000-10,000 tpa if lightweighting is adopted widely across the EV sector

Source: Imperial Mining company presentation

Scandium junior miner Imperial Mining Group Ltd. (TSXV: IPG | OTCQB: IMPNF) (“Imperial”) 100% owns the Crater Lake Scandium-REE Project in northeastern Quebec, Canada. The Project has a large 6km diameter complex host to high-grade scandium and some rare earths deposits. Drilling has defined a mineralized zone of over 600m in total strike length and from surface to a vertical depth of up to 200m. Scandium oxide drill result grades have ranged from 0.0235% to 0.056% (235-506 g/t) which makes the resource look potentially to be commercially viable, as viable scandium grades are typically >200-300 g/t. There is also a parallel niobium target showing grab assay results of between 0.20% and 1.42% Nb2O5 which sits 250m west of the scandium target.

Scandium is best known for increasing the strength and hardness of aluminum and is therefore used commercially for lightweighting in the automotive industry, space industry, for fuel cells and defense applications. Niobium is used mostly in the steel industry to significantly increase steel strength, resulting is less steel required and overall cost savings.

Announced on April 28, 2021, recent drill results at Crater Lake included results of 92.5 m @ 291g/t scandium oxide (Sc2O3). Elevated levels of total rare earth oxides plus yttrium of up to 0.42% were also found. Imperial stated in the release that “at a gold price of $1,750US/oz and a scandium oxide price of $1,250US/kg, the intersections represent a gold-equivalent value of 6.5 to 8.0 g/t Au”,  Imperial’s President and CEO Peter Cashin stated:

“The winter drilling results for the Crater Lake property continue to exceed all expectations….. mineralization has been traced by drilling over 600m in total strike length from surface to a vertical depth of up to 200m. Importantly, the zone appears to get wider and higher grade with depth.

Imperial Mining’s Crater Lake Scandium-REE Project in northeastern Quebec, Canada

Source: Imperial Mining corp. website

Further drill assay results announced on May 27, 2021, included an intercept of 111.9 m @ 298 g/t Sc2O3. Elevated levels of total rare earth oxides plus yttrium (TREO+Y) of up to 0.38% were also found across the scandium-bearing horizon. Given current high prices for the magnet rare earths such as neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, the rare earth oxides found should help boost the projects by-products and hence project economics. The current drilling program is now completed with a total of 14 drill holes having tested the TG Zone.

Next steps and business strategy

Imperial will now undertake a 43-101 preliminary Resource Estimate of the TG zone for delivery in June 2021. Imperial’s strategy is to become a producer of scandium and valuable rare earths using simple process recovery methods. Imperial would like to be a scandium disruptor and to capture market share. Over time the Company’s goal is to move downstream to deliver high-margin scandium-aluminum alloy products for the automotive, aerospace, defense and fuel cell sectors. The Project’s location in Canada’s aluminum capital of Quebec should also lead to further market opportunities.

One such opportunity has already emerged with Eck Industries (“Eck”) with a letter of intent (“LOI”) to develop scandium-modified aluminum alloys for transportation, defense and aerospace markets. The research work will be directed towards developing a novel scandium-enhanced version of the currently commercially available 535 Aluminum which Eck uses for a wide array of applications. The initial scope of work will include casting and testing of various compositions as well as characterization of the finished alloys.

Closing remarks

Imperial is still in the early stages of proving up a resource. But given scandium at economic grades is rare the Company is doing very well by finding good grade scandium and valuable rare earths. The Resource estimate is a significant near term catalyst, which would typically be followed by a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) or PFS.

All of this is ahead, so given the current market cap of just C$29 million, investors with a long-term time frame can have a chance at a potentially big reward if all goes well. The usual risks of junior miners also apply.

Are you in on the super material market trend? Find out how Cymat is making metal – smart.

The modern era is being defined by the use of modern innovative materials that can be fine tuned for specific uses. This can mean light weighting materials for electric vehicles, materials that can absorb various blasts, or modern materials that bring beauty and sophistication.

One company is leading the innovation charge with their innovative and customized aluminum foam solutions. That company is Cymat Technologies Ltd. (TSXV: CYM) (“Cymat”). Cymat is an innovative materials technology company that manufactures and sells customized Stabilized Aluminum Foam (SAF) solutions for international customers and partners. Cymat’s products are suitable for use in a broad range of military, automotive, industrial and architectural applications.

What is aluminum foam?

Aluminum foam consists of about 5-25% of the material volume being aluminum metal and the remaining volume is occupied by pores. Aluminum foam has high durability, high strength to weight ratio, large surface area to volume ratio, lightweight, and excellent energy absorbance and acoustic isolation properties. Due to these physical properties, aluminum foam finds significant adoption across mechanical, architectural, and automotive applications.

Market forecast

The global aluminum metal foam market size was US$67.6M in 2020 and is forecast to grow to US$96.5M by 2027, at a CAGR of 4.7%. There is a developing interest in aluminum foams in car and transportation businesses attributed to their high strength, low weight, and toughness, which is projected to support the market expansion.

Cymat’s innovative SAF material helps with light weighting as well as safety (occupant protection)
Source: Cymat Technologies

Cymat has two divisions:

1) SmartMetal™ – This division sells lightweight energy absorbing material which can also be designed to dampen down noise and vibration, be non-combustible, and be buoyant. One example is stabilized aluminum foam products which are effective at absorbing large amounts of energy. Cymat states: “Each products density can be tuned to deliver effective blast attenuation from an assortment of present and future threats. In combination with composite systems, SmartMetal™ can be configured to neutralize multi-threat events.”

Cymat’s SmartMetal™ convincingly demonstrates the ability to attenuate high speed blast impulses

Source: Cymat Technologies

2. Alusion™ – This division sells stabilized aluminum foam that brings a modern beauty and sophistication. Alusion™ panels are specified mostly for facades, interior walls, ceilings or flooring applications; for both interior and exterior applications. The products are designed to bring multiple benefits such as both positive aesthetic and acoustic properties.

Cymat’s Alusion™ products are designed to achieve modern elegance

Source: Cymat Technologies

Cymat’s business model

Cymat operates in a 26,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility located in Toronto, Canada, and has just completed a JV facility in Miranda de Ebro, Spain. Cymat utilizes a global agency marketing model and a global distributor network to market and sell their products. Cymat has well established distribution relationships covering North and South America, U.K., Europe, Korea and the Middle East and a recent distribution agreement reached in China. Alusion™ is advertised on the ArchDaily web-based architecture platform which receives 13.5 million visitors per month and targets builders, architects and designers seeking material ideas and design tools.

Regarding sales Cymat stated:

“Cymat is expecting strong growth specifically from its Chinese distributor who’s stocking orders to date for fiscal 2021 reflect a high level of confidence in demand for Alusion™. Moreover, these stocking orders are over and above this distributor’s current major project sales pipeline. In the US, Cymat received a large order to outfit a global tech giant’s new head office campus as well as a high-profile condominium project in Manhattan. These orders combined with other European and US-based project orders indicate that Alusion™ sales for the first half of this fiscal year will significantly surpass Cymat’s total annual sales from last year.”

A recent C$4.3M equity raising will be used to undertake production capacity and productivity upgrades at Cymat’s plant to support both growths in the AlusionTM product line and anticipated growth from SmartMetalTM initiatives. Cymat will also use these funds to expand its business development, primarily in the automotive sector and for general corporate purposes.

Closing remarks

Cymat’s aluminum foam has enormous potential for adoption especially in the building and architectural industries. Then of course there is automotive and notably the burgeoning EV industry, and the military, where lightweight and strength are key components. Of course, the list of applications for super materials such as aluminum foam are endless.

Cymat Technologies currently trades on a market cap of just C$32M, suggesting there is potentially huge upside should sales take-off and significant profits follow. One to follow closely in 2021.

Betting on scandium-aluminum lightweighting to take off, Imperial Mining Group is set to benefit from EV market demand

Imperial Mining Group Ltd. (TSXV: IPG | OTCQB: IMPNF) is an early stage scandium junior miner (also with two prospective gold properties) in Quebec hoping to cash in on the move towards scandium-aluminum alloys for lightweighting of vehicles such as spacecraft, airplanes, and especially electric vehicles (EVs).

Scandium is still not widely used due to limited supply and scandium being expensive. This means the scandium supply chain is minimal as the industry has not yet grown. The current global scandium supply is only about 35 tonnes pa of scandium oxide. Demand is forecast to boom to as high as 1,800 tonnes pa by 2035 (Bloomberg forecast, 2018). If that were to happen, it would mean a 51-fold increase in scandium demand over the next 15 years. Interestingly the 2020 Bloomberg forecast for electric vehicles is for them to rise from 2.2M in 2019 to ~54M by 2040. That would be a ~25-fold increase. So clearly the EV boom has the potential to be a strong driver of scandium demand if scandium-aluminum lightweighting becomes widely adopted.

Another estimate of the impact of surging EV sales on the potential demand for scandium

Source: Imperial Mining Group investor presentation

A major issue with EVs is getting their purchase price down which should lead to mass adoption this decade. If an EV weighs less then it can use a smaller battery to get the same range, thereby lowering the EVs cost. Looking ahead this decade if scandium-aluminum alloys become much more widely used, this should lead to a virtuous cycle of cheaper scandium as supply expands and far greater scandium use.

The airline industry and the space industry are other examples where lightweighting becomes vitally important to reduce fuel costs.

This brings us back to Imperial Mining Group, which has one of the lowest market caps (currently C$25M) of all the junior scandium miners as shown below.

Scandium junior miners market cap comparison as of early March 2021

Source: Imperial Mining Group investor presentation

The Crater Lake Scandium-REE Property/Project

Imperial Mining’s focus is on the development of its high-quality scandium-REE Crater Lake Property in northeastern Quebec, Canada. The 100% owned property consists of 57 contiguous claims covering 27.8km2. It has a large 6km diameter complex host to high-grade scandium and niobium deposits. Imperial Mining is currently working to expand the resource.

Previous drilling has defined a mineralised zone of over 250m in strike and 170m in depth. Scandium oxide grades ranged from 0.0235% to 0.0319% (235-319 g/t), which is good. Commercially viable grades (>200-300 g/t) of scandium are very rare. Early drill results included 528 g/t scandium oxide over 8.8m.

2020 TG Zone drilling intersected intervals grading up to 253 g/t Scandium Oxide (Sc2O3) over 29.14 m. These are again very good drill results. Imperial Mining stated in Nov. 2020:

  • “The scandium rich zone also contains elevated levels of total rare earth oxides plus yttrium (TREO+Y) grading up to 0.419%.
  • The scandium mineralized zone is estimated to be up to 110 m in true thickness and continues to be open at depth below 200 m down-dip and along strike.
  • The evident increase in scandium grades with depth is also very encouraging, however more work needs to be done to fully quantify the scandium and REE resource potential on the property.”

Imperial Mining’s goal is to define a scandium-REE mineral resource of a minimum of 10 Mt. Recoveries to date have been strong at 97-98% for scandium and 79% for rare earths.

Well funded after recent oversubscribed capital raises, Imperial Mining plans to spend C$2M to achieve their 2021 plans. These include further drilling, metallurgical recovery additional method testing (April), a 43-101 Resource report (May), and a PEA (July-August). Beyond that next will be permitting and a completed Feasibility Study by end 2023, subject to financing.

The Company plans the Crater Lake Project to be a small open-pit operation with on-site magnetic concentrator and/or sensor-based sorting resulting in high scandium recoveries. It is expected that the Project will be a low CapEx, OpEx due to the high grades and using simple process recovery methods.

Closing remarks

Imperial Mining Group has recently started trading on the OTCQB Venture Market in the U.S., which provides US investors with a pathway to invest and participate in the Imperial Mining Group story.

Given the potential exponential growth ahead if scandium lightweighting takes off in a big way, first mover scandium junior miners such as Imperial Mining Group can be big winners.

Risk is high and patience is needed. One plus for investors is Imperial Mining also has some gold prospective properties in Quebec (La Roncière  and Opawica), with a recent increased interest in La Roncière. Always good to have some gold as insurance.

We will continue to follow the Imperial Mining Group story as it unfolds. Stay tuned.

The White House Executive Order on critical materials heightens scandium interest

The September 30, 2020 White House Executive Order (‘EO’) on critical minerals is just what was needed to give a huge boost to the mining sector. Not sure why ‘scandium’ and the ‘rare earth group’ was listed separately in the EO, since scandium is considered a rare earth, but the end result is that this has escalated market interest in this critical material.

One of the 35 critical minerals is ‘scandium’, used mostly for the purpose of lightweighting, scandium-modified aluminum alloys have equivalent yield and tensile strength to steel and titanium alloy but are 1/3 the weight of steel and 40% lighter than titanium.

Declaring this “a national emergency“, the EO states that the US intends to support companies that have “projects that support domestic supply chains” and “the establishment of secure critical minerals supply chains”, which could reasonably be expected to include Canadian projects such as Imperial Mining Group Ltd. (TSXV: IPG).

Peter Cashin, President, CEO and Director of Imperial Mining Group, which own their flagship scandium-rare earth Crater Lake Property in northeastern Quebec, commented to InvestorIntel when asked on their thoughts on the EO with the following:

“President Trump’s Executive Order should force an orderly build-up of the necessary steps required to secure a domestic supply chain for rare earth materials. In addition to the European Unions expressed push to lessen Chinese import dependence, our hope is that the order will apply to development of the significant critical mineral resources that exist in Canada.”

What is driving this market demand? Available scandium oxide supply today is estimated at just 25 to 35 metric tonnes per year, insufficient for widespread adoption of scandium-aluminum (“Sc-Al”) alloys for automotive, aerospace and defense sectors where they can be used for high-strength applications and in sectors in which lightweighting is essential. In addition to Sc-Al alloys, scandium is used in the Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (“SOFC”) industry because of its heat stabilization and electrical conductivity characteristics. In essence, the competitive advantage of scandium is as a hardener in aluminum alloys, which is what renders them corrosion-and thermal-resistant.

If your not familiar with the Imperial Mining Group Ltd. (TSXV: IPG), Imperial’s Crater Lake Property has a large diameter complex which is host to high-grade scandium and niobium deposits. Scandium oxide grades to date have been very good ranging from 0.0235% to 0.0319% (235-319g/t). Other drill results have included 528g/t scandium oxide over 8.8 meters, showing the high grade potential of the Crater Lake Project.

The company expects the Crater Lake Project to be a small open-pit operation with an on-site magnetic concentrator and/or sensor-based sorting. It is anticipated that the project will be low CapEx, OpEx due to the higher grades and expected simple process recovery methods.

Imperial Mining is currently working to expand the resource and have recently discovered several new areas of scandium mineralization. These new showings lie within the same 14-km arcuate magnetic trend hosting the three previously defined mineralized zones (Boulder, TGZ and STG) on the property. Assay results are expected very soon.

Crater Lake’s 14-km arcuate magnetic trend hosting the three previously defined mineralized zones (Boulder, TGZ and STG)


Peter Cashin states: “The new discoveries are extremely positive news for Imperial in view of the rapidly growing demand and limited supply for this important new technology metal……Currently, scandium is only produced as a minor by-product in China and Russia and, with supplies limited, it is our belief that Crater Lake represents an important alternative, primary scandium supply source to serve western consuming markets.”

A new US Executive Order to boost critical mineral mining, strong management, a high grade growing scandium-rare earths asset in a good mining jurisdiction, and a growing need for scandium and rare earths elements all combine to support Imperial Mining Group. Due to the early stage the current market cap is only C$9m.

Jack Lifton and Peter Cashin talk about the scandium market and Imperial’s strategic opportunity in the vital lightweighting space

In an interview with Technology Metals Show host Jack Lifton,  President and CEO of Imperial Mining Group Ltd. (TSXV: IPG) Peter Cashin discusses the scandium market and the economics of the Crater Lake Project. Peter explains how Imperial Mining’s Crater Lake Project provides a strategic opportunity for an exciting new line of lightweighting products. The project also contains rare earths.

“How it (Crater Lake Project) stands out is that it is a primary bedrock opportunity in Quebec,” said Mr. Cashin, Imperial’s President and CEO. “The grades are exceptionally high relative to our peers for a bedrock deposit. It is exposed at surface so it would be amenable to an open pit operation. Our preliminary metallurgy shows that we have very strong recoveries and high rejection rates of the gangue minerals from our metallurgical work so far. We are ideally located very close to the aluminum capital of Canada.”

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