How the Chinese dominance in the rare earths space creates a barrier for non-Chinese companies to enter the supply chain

In this episode of the Critical Materials Corner with Jack Lifton, Jack interviews Ed Richardson, President of American’s oldest magnet maker, Thomas and Skinner Inc., and a longtime veteran himself of the permanent magnet manufacturing industry, about the possibility of the revival of an American rare earth permanent magnet industry capable of supplying the needs of the North American market.

In this InvestorIntel interview, which may also be viewed on YouTube (click here to subscribe to the InvestorIntel Channel), Ed went on to explain how the Chinese companies are competitive in the rare earths space and how the Chinese dominance in the rare earths space creates a barrier for non-Chinese companies to enter the supply chain. Jack and Ed also discussed how China is using rare earths raw materials from other countries to expand its magnet-making capacity to satisfy its own local demand.

To watch the full video, click here

About Thomas and Skinner Inc.

Thomas & Skinner is the world’s leading manufacturer of cast and sintered alnico magnets, magnetic assemblies, and transformer laminations. Through its wholly owned subsidiary, Ceramic Magnetics, Inc., Thomas & Skinner is also a leading manufacturer of soft ferrite magnets. They are committed to providing our customers with the highest-quality, highest-performing magnetic materials available.

To learn more about Thomas and Skinner Inc., click here

Disclaimer: 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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Energy Fuels and Neo Performance are creating a new U.S.-European rare earths supply chain

Many in the market may have not realized that the U.S and Europe now have a new rare earths and rare element materials supply chain. Up until now the only rare earths producer of significance in the US was MP Materials Corp. (NYSE: MP). Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU | TSX: EFR) has begun to produce a rare earths carbonate in the US and has teamed up with Neo Performance Materials Inc (TSX: NEO) (“Neo”), who makes the final rare earth materials in Estonia Europe.

According to rare earths expert Jack Lifton: “Energy Fuels is today, June 30, shipping the first 20 tonne container load of MRECs (mixed rare earth carbonate), extracted from Chemours’ monazite and processed to remove uranium and thorium and other interfering (with solvent extraction) ions, to Neo Performance’ dedicated SX facility in Estonia. Both Mark Chalmers and Constantine Karayannopoulos will be present at the processing plant in White Mesa, Utah.”

Jack Lifton also states that this is “the first production of a clean MREC derived from monazite in the USA since 1998” and “the restoration of a domestic rare earth supply chain beyond the mine has begun and Energy Fuels is leading the way.”

As reported by Energy Fuels in May 2021, the Company update stated:

“…the Company, along with Neo Performance Materials, announced the joint launch of a U.S.-European REE production initiative under which the parties plan to produce value-added REE products from natural monazite sands, a byproduct of heavy mineral sands mined in the southeastern United States. Pursuant to this initiative, in late-March 2021 Energy Fuels commenced ramping-up commercial production of a mixed rare earth carbonate (“REE Carbonate“) from natural monazite sands at the Company’s White Mesa Mill. Under an agreement in principle signed on March 1, and subject to completion of definitive agreements and successful ramp-up of production, Energy Fuels will ship a portion of its REE Carbonate production to Neo’s REE separations facility in Sillamae, Estonia  (“Silmet“). Neo will then process the REE Carbonate into separated REE materials for use in REE permanent magnets and other REE-based advanced materials.”

Energy Fuels is an emerging U.S producer of rare earth element products, plus an existing uranium & vanadium producer (on standby) at their White Mesa Mill in Utah, USA

Source: Energy Fuels

The monazite ore is supplied to Energy Fuels’ White Mesa Mill in Utah, USA by The Chemours Company’s Offerman Plant in Georgia, and potential future supply of additional natural monazite sands is contracted via a non-binding MOU from the Titan heavy mineral sand project in Tennessee owned by Hyperion Metals Limited. All of this means that a new USA supply chain for rare earths carbonate has begun.

Energy Fuels’ President and CEO, Mark S. Chalmers, stated:

“Without a doubt, Energy Fuels is making major strides toward restoring critical U.S. rare earth supply chains, while also maintaining our position as the leading U.S. uranium producer…..On rare earths, our efforts over the past several months culminated in the announcement on March 1 that Energy Fuels and Neo Performance Materials were creating a new, U.S.-European rare earth supply chain……However, as I’ve said many times, we have much bigger rare earth plans, and the momentum is building rapidly as we execute our purposeful strategy. We are now taking real steps toward designing and building fully integrated, U.S. rare earth production capabilities.

It seems the mass media is yet to realize the significance of CEO Chalmer’s statement, especially given Energy Fuels trades on a market cap of just US$873 million. When comparing to MP Materials on a market cap of US$6.08 billion, Energy Fuels looks cheap, but it should be noted that Energy Fuels is not yet a fully integrated rare earths carbonate producer and has less capacity (up to 2,500 tons per year of monazite) than MP Materials (noting mining in USA and processing in China). Of course, the plan is for this to change in coming years, plus Energy Fuels has uranium and vanadium on standby production awaiting better prices and/or to supply uranium into the U.S. Uranium Reserve once it is established by the U.S. government. You can read more on Energy Fuels rare earths plan here.

In the case of Neo Performance Materials, they are further along the supply chain specializing in advance materials including rare earths magnet materials. Neo trades on a market cap of C$616 million (US$497 million). Neo states:

Neo is the only company in the world that operates dual supply chains inside and outside of China for REE separation and REE advanced materials. Neo owns the only operating commercial rare earth separation facility in Europe.

You can read more on Neo here.

Neo Performance Materials produces rare earths advanced materials (magnet materials etc) and sells globally

Source: Neo Performance Materials company presentation

Closing remarks

For investors wanting to get involved in western based rare earths and rare earth magnet materials companies then it would be sensible to consider both Energy Fuels (intermediate rare earths carbonate materials) and Neo Performance Materials (advanced rare earth materials).

Both companies appear to be moving in the right direction with a large runway of growth ahead. Demand for their products looks to be exceptional in the years ahead, thanks to the electric vehicle and renewable energy booms, which should support strong pricing and margins.

As a result of all of this, the West’s sustainable future looks brighter thanks to increasing rare earths products supply from Energy Fuels and Neo Performance Materials.

Critical Materials for the Two American Economies, The Military and the Consumer

Today’s demand for critical technology enabling materials was originally brought about by (industrial) policy driven military procurement during, after, and since World War II. The continuing production of these relatively scarce materials is only made economically today possible by the additional and much larger demand of the consumer economy based not on an industrial policy but on the (regulated) free market model of capitalism. Pentagon procurement of its needs for critical materials through policy can bend the law of supply and demand, but it cannot break it. The demands of the free market economy (in the USA) drive the creation of it’s critical material’s supply. The present (2021) needs of the Department of Defense (DoD) for rare earths, mainly as permanent magnets, for example, are “classified,” but are around 3,000 tons, measured as magnets per year. This is not enough demand for private capital to make an investment in a project that requires an entire supply chain to be (re) established.

The American consumer market from which 80+% of the domestic American rare earth demand arises has well established supply chains and has not experienced credible politically driven supply constraints. The largest single user of rare earth permanent magnets in the USA, the domestic OEM automotive industry, is faced with the need for a fundamental shift in its use of capital if it attempts to restore a total domestic rare earth permanent magnet supply chain for its demand. The best way for such restoration would be vertical integration, the antithesis of today’s just in time system of sourcing components. For any individual automotive OEM the costs would be prohibitive and not only is the expertise not available in-house, but also the lack of suitable domestic personnel to carry out such a project, or to manage, or to engineer it is palpable.

The American administration’s latest announcement on how it will address the supply chain “crisis” is wrongheaded and misguided. The related bill in the U.S. Senate to promote “innovation” is another misguided use of taxpayer borrowing ability. This, “borrowing ability” is, in fact how the US government is financed; its debt so far exceeds its revenues that to speak of spending in Congress is to describe moneyholics, drunk on their power, and putting the future on a tab.

Washington’s aging and apparently permanent lawmakers, such as Senator ( D-New York) spout drivel written by their jejune staffers about innovation as science, which, of course, means funding of University and internal government “grant mills.”  The urgent need in America is for manufacturing “technology,” the engineering of science to, modernize, rebuild, and utilize specialized legacy technologies. We do not do endless laboratory work to invent new ways to do things that industries can already do as efficiently as possible while remaining competitive. This particularly applies to capital intensive industries such as mining, automotive, and electronics.

The lithium-ion battery manufacturing industry is a good example of something completely misunderstood by Washington’s insulated, isolated, and commercially illiterate mandarins. From Xanadu on the Potomac, the Biden administration decrees that it will bring lithium-ion battery production to the USA by aiming a money missile with a 19-billion-dollar warhead at the “problem.”

But investment money is not the problem in commercializing science; it is the projection of positive returns on investment that drive new consumer industries, not innovation on its own. A good example is the American OEM automotive industry. That industry’s dominance peaked in the 1950s when a completely vertically integrated General Motors was the number one industrial firm in the world. It was not “innovation” that drove GM to the top; it was superior management that knew how to manufacture, finance, and deliver the company’s products to the consumer who either desired that product or could be manipulated into thinking they did. The position of Chief Engineer of a successful OEM automotive company, once held by Henry Ford in his own company, evolved into Vice President, Engineering, perhaps the second most important position in a manufacturing company’s management, and the one individual in any company who must know the limitations of his company to develop and manufacture its products.

Today’s, so-called, “tech” companies deliver specialized software (computer programs) as brainless toys to infantile adults using the throw-away model of consumer capitalism. Apple, for example, unconsciously mimicking the marketing ploy developed by GM to differentiate itself from Ford, has a new iPhone and Mac every year with “innovations” that only fit into their existing manufacturing supply chains. In order to maintain sales, existing customers must discard their existing products and buy the “new” ones. GM’s marketers decided in the early 1920s that the next Chevrolet would be called the 1922 Chevrolet and that thereafter all GM cars would be named by the year they were produced. Other car makers continued to name models, such as Ford’s Model T, but the success of the model-year naming ploy soon caught on. Car makers became fixated on the car’s exterior appearance and its passenger compartment and experimented with drive and power trains mostly out-of-sight of the buying public, so that the enormous research, development, and manufacturing engineering processes needing time for development in power trains could be done and tested before being offered for sale.

Safety regulations have contributed a great deal to the fall of the American OEM automotive industry to its present state, where all (both) of the domestic American OEMs have less market cap than just a couple of Wall Street’s flavors-of-the-moment “tech” companies that make no profit and never will.

To sell a car or truck in the USA it must meet rigorous safety standards that have forced car makers to produce much more robust and therefore long-lived products. In 1970 GM predicted that the domestic car market in 2000 would be 26 million units per year and that it would need 28 domestic assembly plants to supply its share of that market. What has come to pass is a “mature” (aka, saturated) car market in which there is a vehicle on the road for every American citizen. The prediction of a 26 million unit year is long gone down the memory hole and the total number of assembly plants in North America does not equal what GM predicted for its own 2000 model year needs.

The Defense Department’s investments were father and mother to the American technology boom that took place between 1941 and 1973 (The initial funding of the Manhattan “district” and the cancellation of the Space Shuttle). After that, innovation, slowed down considerably as private industry resumed its pre World War II internal funding of science and engineering that brought about the ascendancy of American consumer capitalism and global military dominance. Industries created before World War II, and without government support, included the telegraph, mass produced uniform quality steel and aluminum, the telephone, the light bulb, radio, the automobile, the airplane, television, the mechanical computer (OK, adding machine), miniaturized electronics, mechanical electric refrigeration, and many others in the life sciences, such as x-rays, insulin, and, originally, penicillin. Although we pay lip service to the inventors of the above “technologies” as intentional promoters of higher living standards, in fact, their driving motive was almost always profit. The scientists whose discoveries led to the technologies listed above are long forgotten or known only to historians; they rarely sought fame or fortune.

It was Franklin D. Roosevelt who kicked off the great age of American innovation in 1941, not just by authorizing the Manhattan Project, but primarily by bringing in the CEOs of GM, Chrysler, Ford, GE, and Westinghouse to oversee the transformation of American free enterprise manufacturing and innovative product development into the industrial policy driven global powerhouse that crushed Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan, all of which began a war to capture the raw materials and land their society’s desperately needed to manufacture the weapons of war and feed their armies.

After World War II a subset of American manufacturers soon known as the “military industrial complex created itself in order to produce products required by the industrial policy, and power to execute it, created by the War (now Defense) Department during the war. The civilian, soon to be known, as the consumer, economy decoupled itself and followed the free enterprise model of capitalism, but it was spillover from military spending that created the miniaturization of electronic switching into the integrated circuit, aka, the “chip,” which sparked a consumer product revolution the basis of which was further inspired by the rare earth permanent magnet the development of which was itself inspired by stylists in the OEM automotive industry who wanted slimmer doors on cars with power windows.

The Ford Scientific Laboratory was working on a sodium sulphur battery in 1964. I was a “helper” on that project. I didn’t work for Ford but I was being recruited by Ford Scientific for its materials sciences group. I had been working with the electronic properties of Lithium and it’s salts since 1962 at Energy Conversion Devices, my first employer, where we made a molten salt version of what is now known as a lithium ion battery in 1963. These molten salt power train batteries proved extremely inappropriate for automotive use, but my point is that there isn’t much new under the sun other than different ways to do desired things such as energy storage more efficiently and safely. And these today are really engineering problems more so than scientific ones.

The US Defense Department on its own and without subsidies cannot catalyze the reshoring of a total domestic American, lithium, cobalt, or rare earth permanent magnet supply chain. It’s time for the White House to call in the managers of the manufacturing part of the domestic consumer products industry for a chat about the creation and implementation of a national industrial policy.

Only through a Secure Supply of EV Metals (Rare Earths) can a Hegemony Be.

It has been reported today that the Biden administration is looking to allied nations as primary sources of critical mined raw materials, and that it, the administration, will focus on supporting the domestic American processing of such imported ores into useful products focused on domestic production of EVs, their batteries, and components. This is an example of a complete disregard by the Biden administration for America’s competitive advantage, safety, and, ironically, its economy to placate a loud anti-mining luddism that pervades the American left. It is in two words, hypocritical and stupid. It’s hypocritical because it assumes that out-of-sight, out-of-mind, will placate the left’s “greens” into thinking that pollution in Australia, Canada, or Brazil and its attendant costs doesn’t exist. It’s stupid, because it makes no economic sense. Transporting raw material concentrates to the USA for processing is rarely cheaper than mining and processing them domestically. In the case of cobalt, for example, its “ore” is mostly a byproduct of copper or nickel production, and there is no cobalt mine in the USA and there is only one facility in North America (Canada) capable of processing the ore concentrate into “battery grade” cobalt. In the case of the rare earths almost all ores are radioactive and thus have to be “cleaned” at licensed and specialized facilities. Only one such private facility exists today in the USA.

There is today no commercial rare earth separation, metal making, alloy making, or rare earth permanent magnet manufacturing in the USA. The combined annual demand of the military and consumer industries in the USA for rare earth permanent magnets is between 10,000 and 15,000 tons per year. Never in American history has so much of any of these forms of rare earths been produced in a single year.

Yet Washington believes that the annual processing into fine chemicals and metallurgical forms of 170,000 tons each of lithium and cobalt (the amount required annually for 17 million BEVs if each has a 60 kWh battery [the smallest battery now offered by Tesla]) and of 50,000 tons per year of rare earth permanent magnets (the amount required by 17 million EVs annually if each uses one rare earth permanent magnet motor) could be accomplished by 2030.

The Biden administration’s plan for sourcing critical materials for EVs is also an indication of the end of American dominated natural resource globalization and the acceptance of the fact that China has already constructed and is operating a global sourcing system for critical materials for China’s domestic economy, which includes an emphasis on domestic Chinese processing of the ores of critical materials and a total domestic Chinese supply chain for the end-use products that depend on downstream forms of the critical materials for their operation and use both in the civilian and military markets. China today processes 60% of the world’s lithium and 80% of the cobalt as well as 90% of the rare earths!

China has published its China2025 plan to become independent in 10 key technologies by 2025. Its globalization of secure sources of technology materials to ensure the success of China2025 is for all practical purposes already complete, as planned.

It is said that we live in the age of technology, and that we are all enjoying the fruits of applied science (aka, technology), but we have to ask “What is the purpose of a technology, in human terms?” Is it the jobs and spin-offs from the manufacturing and distribution of high-tech, consumer-oriented, and quality-of-life-improvement -goods to the general population through the economies of miniaturization, which alone makes them economically available? Is it primarily for military uses? Is it for both, the civilian and military markets, needs, and satisfaction?

For the fifty years from the successful conclusion of the manned lunar landing program in 1969 until today the target of technology has been upon making economically available business and leisure travel (civilian jet passenger and freight airliners), making individual wireless mass communication, both audio and video, cheap and available, and making electrical energy universally available and affordable.

The last of these, the universality of cheap available electric power, is now the basis of our technological civilization!

Unquestionably it was military patronage of science and engineering from 1940 to 1970 that brought about the discovery of deposits, production, and processing of the technology metals that enable the miniaturization, and thus widespread consumer availability, in today’s society, of high-tech goods and services. But since President Nixon canceled the Space Shuttle Program in 1973 original research for product development in the USA has been the purview of private industry.

We are now at a turning point.

There are two directions to go for the need to have secure supplies of technology enabling metals.

One is to let the free market system as practiced in the USA make sure that items are always available through demand driven supply. The USA maintains a (ridiculously) small supply of critical materials for the Defense Department in case of emergencies, and private industry balks at inventory costs.

The other is to formulate and act upon an industrial policy, with which the State mandates a supply agenda and sets production quotas for all companies involved in a particular technology enabling metal supply chain. The Chinese government maintains large stocks of technology enabling metals to smooth out both demand spikes and prices.

The United States’ financial system, known as free market capitalism, operates as if profit is the sole purpose of the existence of any manufacturing or service enterprise. China has adopted a Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics in which the sole purpose of any Chinese venture is to do something which is good for China. Private enterprise is allowed, and individuals may accumulate enormous wealth if and only if this purpose, the good of China, is the goal.

A hegemon is the first among equals. Athens was the first to be known as a hegemon, followed by Alexander’s Macedon, then Imperial Rome, and more recently, the British Empire, and the United States. In 1947 America had half of the world’s gold, produced half of the world’s steel, the most powerful military in history, and was embarking on an unparalleled era of technological brilliance.

There can only be one hegemon, by definition.

Globalization of the sourcing of critical materials with American characteristics (Neoliberal, free market, economics) can’t work. It’s too late.

To paraphrase the poet: This is how hegemony ends. Not with a bang but with a whimper.

The real “Critical” in the Critical Materials’ Supply Chain is — Vertical Integration.

A great many promotional “announcements” by junior miners contain descriptive business models, of the development of mineral deposits into producing mines, which imply that the product of the mine will be a finished consumer product that is far along down the commercial product supply and value chains from the actual product of the mine. This is at best foolish and at worst purposely misleading.

It is almost always the development of a new advanced use for a natural resource that creates an increased demand for that resource not the development of a supply that pushes a search for new uses.

Thus, for example, a need for the miniaturization of electric motors and generators was followed by the discovery of the magnetic properties of rare earth alloys and this then initiated a rapid growth of rare earth mining for, in particular, the elements, neodymium and praseodymium. In an analogous manner, the invention and deployment of the lithium cobalt-based rechargeable storage battery led ultimately to a need for and thus a search for new sources of both lithium and cobalt, relatively rarely produced metals before the last decade. I note that the original rare earth permanent magnets used in OEM automotive were of the samarium cobalt type and that this use ended when two British brothers cornered the cobalt market in 1980 driving its price too high for OEM automotive use in the non-recyclable miniature electric motors whose widespread use it has enabled. Neodymium iron boron alloy magnets then replaced samarium cobalt mainly from an economic perspective.

This agenda, demand begets (a search for) supply, is widely misunderstood. It is assumed by the economic press in particular that an efficient market will not only price a resource “correctly” but will also, when shortages occur, mandate its supply expansion. This is nonsensical but nonetheless is gospel today among institutional investor analysts. In every case, increased supply can only occur when accessible deposits, technical feasibility and price acceptance of the new production concur.

In fact, this is today’s challenge with technology metals. There are not enough accessible deposits, which are technically and economically mineable, to supply everyone with either alternate sources (to fossil fuels) of energy or consumer products dependent upon miniaturized electronics (phones, computers, television, etc.) The only solution is rationing, by which I mean that rich nations will go “green” while poorer ones will stay black or brown, i.e. will rely on fossil fuels mainly.

Junior miners, who seek investment only from rich nations know that even retail investors will be quickly bored by being told that the actual product of the mine seeking finance has, per se, little use other than as a feedstock for the next step in the total supply chain that eventually produces the product that they believe that they (the investors) understand, such as an electric car drive motor or the motorized actuator on a jet fighter plane, both of which are referred to only as if the total consumer/military mechanism ( a motor vehicle or an aircraft)  depended critically for its existence upon the chemical element(s) being mined rather than on the complex components containing them in metal, alloy, or fine chemical forms produced by much more complex technologies far downstream of a mine.

There is no point in developing a supply of a chemical elements unless there is a total supply chain with the capacity and economics to utilize that volume to make the end user products.

Technology is the engineering of science. Mining engineering is itself today as much an art as a science. I have never met a miner who was a skilled high temperature metallurgist specializing in manufacturing specialty alloys, yet one greenfield deposit in the USA advertises itself as a “superalloy mine.” Another, actually in production only of ore concentrates, advertises its business model as “mine to magnet.” Both descriptions are promotional nonsense.

The tragedy for us is that capitalism does not allow us to create fully staffed and equipped superalloy foundries or magnet making operations without feedstock that is guaranteed of delivery at an agreed price, on time, and to specification. In addition, such manufactories must have customers willing to pay the Cost of Goods Sold plus a profit high enough to allow debt retirement and continuing investment in capital equipment and R&D.

This is where China’s “capitalism with Chinese characteristics,” aka as Industrial Policy supported by the State Bank, has the rest of the world over a barrel. Chinese heavy industry started with a blank slate just a generation ago. It had no legacy of sunk costs. Chinese consumer demand was designed to follow the construction of a national industrial infrastructure.

In fact, there are Chinese companies with thousands of employees that are totally vertically integrated from the mine to the magnet, in the case of rare earths, and from cobalt production and processing to superalloy production. Mostly though these total supply chains are created from competition among scores of companies with the appropriate skills.

We no longer have such companies in the USA that are or can assemble a vertically integrated group of operations to produce rare earth permanent magnets or lithium-ion batteries at a scale necessary for electric transportation.

The re-creation of these total supply chains is the real “critical” problem. Not just developing deposits of critical materials. Mines alone are not the answer.

Search Minerals are setting themselves apart in the critical materials pack

As industrial nations continue to shift towards a greener future and explosive demand for EVs and the associated demand for magnetic materials shows no signs of abating it’s time to take another look at Search Minerals Inc. (TSXV: SMY). Search holds a 100% interest in a rare earths deposit within the Port Hope Simpson – St. Lewis District of South East Labrador that is road accessible and on tidewater, which is a leg up on a lot of their North American counterparts. The company already has a favourable Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) for their FOXTROT deposit, a resource estimate for Deep Fox and a third discovery has been identified at Fox Meadow. There are also more than 20 additional exploration prospects identified along the 70 km long and 8 km wide region controlled by Search including Silver Fox and Awesome Fox.

The PEA highlights a 14 year mine lifespan on Foxtrot (8 years open pit, 6 years underground) that would recover approximately 7.4 million tonnes of Indicated and 2.0 million tonnes of Inferred Resources. Mineralized zones typically show high concentrations of many of the magnetic materials in demand (Nd, Pr), and some of the most revered critical materials including but not limited to: Dysprosium (Dy) Neodymium (Nd), Praseodymium (Pr), Terbium (Tb) and Yttrium (Y). However, the newest prospect at Silver Fox hosts significantly higher grades of Zirconium (Zr) and Hafnium (Hf).

But this is only the start of the story. What makes Search different from most other critical materials’ explorers is the development of its breakthrough Patented Direct Extraction Metallurgical Process. With the mining of many commodities, it’s not as simple as taking the rock from the ground, crushing it up and sending it to market. Think back to Imperial Metals Mount Polly tailings pond breach in 2014. Mining rare earths are no exception and can have their own environmental nightmare lurking if not addressed properly, just ask China. Fortunately, Search has found an elegant answer for an environmentally conscientious solution for managing waste residue that also significantly reduces CAPEX and operational costs. Without getting into the details (you can read more about it here), this is a big deal.

To further the development of this proprietary process, Search signed an MOU with the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) on Oct 29, 2020. The MOU outlines a collaboration with SRC as they build their Rare Earths Processing Facility in Saskatchewan, Canada. It is anticipated that using the SRC conventional solvent extraction process will enable Search to validate the ability to produce the individual rare earth oxides necessary to enter the rare earths supply chain.

Another intriguing development in progressing this patented process is the Nov 10, 2020 entry into a Technical Collaboration Framework Agreement with USA Rare Earth, LLC. This will involve technical assistance through joint technical meetings, sharing of data, site visits and reviews and collaboration around the engineering and development of Critical Material projects. Subsequent to this agreement on March 11, 2021 USA Rare Earth participated in a Search Minerals private placement with a strategic investment of C$630,000.

Search Minerals is a company that has identified an optimally located, economic resource in a commodity that is likely to continue to see increasing demand, has exploration upside and a proprietary process to get its product cost-effectively to market in an environmentally conscious way. This has obviously attracted the interest of others in the industry. That’s how you set yourself apart from the rest of the pack.

Tom Drivas on the coronavirus and Appia’s commitment to a North American rare earths supply

“China supplies 85% of the rare earths to the world. The world is nervous not only because China has control on supply but also, let’s take coronavirus as an example, if work stops in China then what happens to the supply.” States Tom Drivas, CEO, President and Director of Appia Energy Corp. (CSE: API | OTCQB: APAAF), in an interview with InvestorIntel’s Peter Clausi at PDAC 2020.

Tom went on to say that the US, Canada, Australia, and other countries want to see some supply outside of China but there are only a few projects that can compete with the Chinese. Tom also spoke on Appia’s Alces Lake property which has uranium and rare earths. Tom said it is one of the best projects in North America in terms of high grade critical rare earths. The company is drilling at the property and has got some zones right on the surface with grades upto 49% rare earths.

To access the complete interview, click here

Disclaimer: Appia Energy Corp. is an advertorial member of InvestorIntel Corp.