China Threat to Rare Earth Supply Could Create "Strategic Pitfall"

The U.S. must secure a safer, far more reliable supply of rare earth outside of China. At the moment, according to Bloomberg, “The Chinese government is currently conducting a review of its rare-earths policy. Officials view the technology needed to refine and purify the raw materials as a more powerful weapon in protecting state interests than the actual minerals, and is looking at banning sales of the technology to some countries or companies. While China has no plans to restrict shipments of rare earths to the U.S., it is keeping the plan in its back pocket should a trade war break out again.”

At the same time, President Biden is expected to direct his Administration to conduct a key review of supply chains, including those for semiconductors, batteries, medical supplies, and rare earth metals, as noted by CNBC. Defense analysts from both sides of the aisle have also highlighted rare earths as a potential “strategic pitfall.”

With secure rare earth needed, Defense Metals Corp. (TSXV:DEFN)(OTC:DFMTF) Could Assist

Defense Metals Corp. (TSXV:DEFN)(OTC:DFMTF) just announced the completion of quarterly stream flow measurements, and water quality sample collection; in addition to installation of snow survey markers, weather station data download, and equipment checks at its Wicheeda Rare Earth Element (REE) Property. The road accessible Wicheeda REE Property is located close to infrastructure approximately 80 kilometres northeast of Prince George, British Columbia (BC). The Wicheeda project has indicated mineral resources of 4,890,000 tonnes averaging 3.02% LREO (Light Rare Earth Elements) and inferred mineral resources of 12,100,000 tonnes averaging 2.90% LREO.

Despite higher than normal winter temperatures creating challenging ice conditions, with most stream sites still experiencing open water, environmental monitoring crews were able to complete the planned stream flow measurements and water chemistry sampling.

Quarterly site visits, scheduled as part of a two year program of baseline environmental data monitoring initiated during summer 2020, are completed by Defense Metals’ environmental consultants; EDI (Environmental Dynamics Inc.) and Hydrologica Environmental Consulting Inc. Defense metals is also pleased to announce the engagement of Northern Spruce Contracting Ltd., a 100% aboriginal owned company established in 2010 to provide environmental contracting services throughout northern British Columbia.

Craig Taylor, CEO of Defense Metals, stated: “Continuation of baseline environmental monitoring and ensuring we remain on schedule with completion of quarterly field visits demonstrates our commitment to advancing the Wicheeda REE Project. Defense Metals continues to be one of the most active companies in the rapidly emerging REE space as we work in parallel on all facets of project development including: baseline environmental, pilot-scale metallurgical studies; in addition to economic modelling and scenario analysis as we work towards completion of a PEA during 2021.”

Other related developments from around the markets include:

Texas Mineral Resource Corp. (OTC:TMRC) and USA Rare Earth LLC, the funding and development partner of the Round Top Heavy Rare Earth and Critical Minerals Project in Hudspeth County, West Texas just announced that it has partnered with Source Certain International (SCI). SCI will support USA Rare Earth to develop a transparent, traceable and trusted supply chain for its rare earth and lithium products, including permanent magnets. SCI forms a key part of USA Rare Earth’s mine-to-magnet and mine-to-market strategy. The SCI program will enable verification of provenance for all USA Rare Earth products. USA Rare Earth has prioritized the need to have independent robust systems that can provide environmental, social responsibility and other quality assurance information to downstream customers and consumers of rare earths, lithium and other critical raw materials from Round Top and other sources into USA Rare Earth’s mine-to-magnet supply chain. The partnership with SCI provides U.S. manufacturers, technology companies and renewable energy producers with proof of provenance to support their own ESG initiatives and assurances to their customers.

Rare Element Resources Ltd. (OTC:REEMF) announced that formal notice has been received from the U.S. Department of Energy that General Atomics, an affiliate of Synchron, the Company’s largest shareholder, along with Rare Element Resources, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company, have been selected to enter negotiations in relation to a financial award under the Critical Materials Funding Opportunity Announcement for the engineering, construction and operation of a rare earth separation and processing demonstration plant. RER, along with partners General Atomics and affiliates, and LNV, an Ardurra Group, Inc. Company, as engineering and construction subcontractor, submitted a formal proposal to the DoE in response to a published FOA in mid-2020 for the construction and operation of a rare earth separation and processing plant utilizing proprietary technology to produce commercial grade products. The DoE funding represents one-half of the total estimated costs for the project and is contingent upon the negotiation of mutually agreeable documents which is expected to be completed within 60-90 days.  

Lynas Rare Earths Limited (OTC:LYSCF) was just awarded $30.4 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Defense to “build a Texas facility to process specialized minerals used to make weapons, electronics, and other goods,” as reported by Reuters. “The Pentagon's award will fund the construction of a facility to process so-called light rare earths, the most-common type of rare earths, commonly found in consumer goods such as cellular phones.”

MP Materials (NYSE:MP), the largest rare earth materials producer in the Western Hemisphere, will release its financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended December 31, 2020, after the U.S. markets close on Thursday, March 18, 2021. In conjunction with this announcement, MP Materials’ management will host a conference call and webcast that afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time (5:00 p.m. Eastern Time) to discuss and answer questions about the Company’s financial results. Prior to the conference call and webcast, the Company will issue a press release and post a slide presentation on the investor relations section of the Company’s website.

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