The U.S. is Being Forced to Secure Rare Earth Outside of China

The world is in desperate need for rare earth supply outside of China. Not only is the U.S. trying to new supply, Europe is in desperate need, too. In fact, according to the South China Morning Post, “In a speech touting the bloc’s ‘industry strategy’ this week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pointed to the scarcity of raw materials needed to power the switch to electric vehicles and green energy sources, much of which are buried in China.”

“We import lithium for electric cars, platinum to produce clean hydrogen, silicon metal for solar panels,” she added. “Ninety-eight per cent of the rare earth elements  we need come from a single supplier: China. This is not sustainable. So we must diversify our supply chains.”

The situation has become so dire President Biden signed an executive order on supply chain security, noting, “ “From rare earths in our electric motors and generators to the carbon fibre used for aeroplanes – the United States needs to ensure we are not dependent upon foreign sources or single points of failure in times of national emergency.”

All is fueling momentum for some of the world’s top rare earth suppliers.

One of the Companies that Could Benefit is Defense Metals Corp. (TSXV:DEFN)(OTC:DFMTF)

The company just announced that it has received additional pre-pilot hydrometallurgical test work utilizing high-grade rare earth element (REE) mineral concentrate produced during the Company’s highly successful 26-tonne flotation pilot-plant that yielded a mineral concentrate averaging 7.4% NdPr oxide (neodymium-praseodymium).

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.

Highlights of the additional infill hydrometallurgical test results, which centred around optimizing gangue leach test conditions, conducted at SGS Canada Inc. Lakefield Site are as follows:

- Gangue leach optimization resulted in increased manganese rejection from ~40% (pH 4) to ~85% (pH 3) from the leach solution resulting in only minimal REE losses of approximately 1%

- Increased gangue weight reduction from <10% gauge loss to >20% gangue loss over the same range

Ongoing hydrometallurgical optimization test work being conducted at SGS Lakefield is investigating options for reducing the caustic crack retention time, and acid concentrations in the caustic crack residue leach towards reducing acid consumption and downstream neutralization requirements.

Craig Taylor, CEO of Defense Metals, stated: “Defense Metals is extremely pleased with rapid advances being made in our pre-pilot hydrometallurgical optimization. We continue fine-tune our gangue leach, via milder conditions versus base case, with an eye to striking the optimal balance of high front-end impurity rejection with minimal REE losses. The results announced today speak to the success of these efforts.”

Other related developments from around the markets include:

Texas Mineral Resource Corp. (OTC:TMRC), an exploration company targeting the heavy rare earths, technology metals and a variety of industrial minerals currently through its Round Top Mountain project in Texas, is pleased to announce preliminary geophysical analysis of baseline silver samples taken from the historic Alhambra Mine located in the Black Hawk district of Grant County, New Mexico. In November 2020 TMRC announced the execution of a letter of agreement to pursue, negotiate and subsequently enter into a joint venture agreement with Santa Fe Gold Corp. to jointly explore and develop a targeted silver property within the Black Hawk Mining District in Grant County, New Mexico. Historical exploration activities have demonstrated that the Black Hawk district hosts a well-known geologic type of carbonate vein that contains small but very high-grade ore-shoots or pods containing native silver as the principal ore mineral, with potential for cobalt recovery as well. The nature of these carbonate veins lateral to and between these high-grade ore lenses is not known at this time, but evidence within the Black Hawk district and from historic districts of this type suggests that the intervening vein carbonate is relatively unmineralized. Because of the small size of the ore-shoots, their random distribution, and the lack of definite leads to forecast the proximity of ore, historic attempts to locate and mine these ore-shoots have been unsuccessful.

MP Materials Corp. (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.

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.”

Lithium Americas Corp. (NYSE:LAC)(TSX:LAC) announced that the United States Bureau of Land Management has issued the Record of Decision for the Thacker Pass lithium project following completion of the National Environmental Policy Act process. Thacker Pass, located 100 km northwest of Winnemucca, in Humboldt County, Nevada, is 100% owned by Lithium Nevada Corp., a US corporation and wholly-owned subsidiary of Lithium Americas. “The issuance of the ROD is the culmination of over 10 years of hard work from the Thacker Pass team, as well as the BLM and other federal, state and local agencies, all of whom worked tirelessly to ensure their respective commitments to environmental stewardship and community engagement,” commented Jon Evans, President and CEO. “With the federal permitting process complete, our focus is on advancing the financing process including discussions with potential strategic partners.”

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