- Provided $1.9 million of funding to IMC for the further advancement of the RapidSX™ technology for commercial deployment; including a $1-million tranche transferred on April 26, 2021
- Allocated funding for an Independent Evaluation of RapidSX™ technology for the separation of REEs – scheduled for completion in Summer 2021
- Allocated $750,000 to further ongoing specific business-development activities and initial Alaska SMC engineering to ensure that project timelines are achieved
- Finalizing a $400,000 Summer 2021 work program at Bokan Mountain
- Provided $130,000 of funding to conduct the second phase of Bokan mill flowsheet development testing now underway at SGS Canada – Lakefield
Halifax, Nova Scotia – (May 12, 2021) – Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSXV: UCU) (OTCQX: UURAF) (“Ucore” or the “Company”) is pleased to provide the following message from Pat Ryan, Chairman & CEO of Ucore.
To Our Valued Shareholders,
I had the good fortune last week of hearing from various Ucore shareholders. Several were loyal, long-term shareholders who have been with us through the ebb-and-flow of our Company’s history for more than a decade and they asked me to directly expand on the steps we are taking and my vision of the future of Ucore. One in particular, a brand-new shareholder, explained why he recently invested his hard-earned money with Ucore and he hit upon virtually every aspect of our planning and actions that we have attempted to communicate to you and all stakeholders over the past year, including:
- Centering the Company on a transformative critical metals separation technology;
- creating a share structure that is right-sized and conducive for growth;
- establishing a management team with a track record of producing products in demanding industries;
- strengthening our fiscal position and eliminating unnecessary risks; and
- positioning the Company to benefit from increasing rare earth element (“REE”) market prices based on 21st Century technologies and a political groundswell of support for REE and other critical metals.
So, to all of our shareholders, I’m pleased to be able to offer the following updates pertaining to the crucial thrusts of our three-year business model – transformative technology, near-term processing, and long-term resource security.
First, as we execute our carefully crafted plan for North American REE independence, it is important to point out what China has done over the past ten years. Chinese state-owned entities have gone around the world buying positions in existing and potential future mines that ensure the flow of critical metals into their country. But more so, they have built up their REE processing capacity, understanding that once you control what is referred to as the midstream or middle market, you control the supply chain.
With this realization, the most vital aspect of any complete domestic supply chain or the “solution” to this stranglehold by China, is the ability to separate REEs into the rare earth oxides (“REOs”) that are required by the REE magnet industry – economically, environmentally soundly and at commercial scale. Ucore realized several years ago that we had to regain control of the midstream (see Figure 1) and ideally do so with significant capital-expenditure savings as well as faster, more efficient and lower-cost production.
Figure 1 – From Ucore’s 2021 Corporate Presentation
We have never been more confident in the efficacy of the RapidSX™ critical metals separation technology developed by our wholly owned subsidiary, Innovation Metals Corp. (“IMC”). However, we fully understand that we have a responsibility to optimize, quantify and demonstrate the effectiveness of RapidSX before commercial deployment through Ucore’s REE processing plans as well as IMC’s prospective strategic licensing partners.
As announced on Mai 11, 2020, Ucore completed its 100% acquisition of IMC for total consideration of $7.7 million. Since May of 2020, Ucore has fully funded $1.9 million of additional investment into IMC to advance the RapidSX technology for commercial deployment; including a recent $1M tranche completed on April 26, 2021, to:
- Further progress the design of the RapidSX commercial development platform, REE flowsheets and applications engineering, as well as mathematical modeling, to facilitate the design and engineering for commercialization of the RapidSX technology. Ucore-centric commercialization paths include the Alaska Strategic Metals Complex (“SMC”) heavy REO production facility and a potential SMC facility in the ‘Lower 48’ focused on light REEs (“LREE”).
- Conduct technology testing agreements (“TTAs”) on mixed rare earth concentrates (“MREC”) from now two commercial rare-earth sources. On May 4, 2021, Ucore announced a TTA between IMC and a leading US-allied-sourced REE producer. Now a second TTA with a leading US-allied-sourced, advanced-stage REE development company has also been executed. The goal of these TTAs is to demonstrate the effectiveness and suitability of RapidSX technology for client-specific MREC, coupled with the potential incorporation of RapidSX into each of their business models via licensing agreements.
- Through a prospective financial partner, support an Independent Evaluation of RapidSX technology for the separation of REEs scheduled for completion in Summer 2021.
Near-Term Mid-stream & Down-stream Processing
Completion of the Alaska SMC REO production facility by 2023 remains the target of Ucore as the first step of our ALASKA2023 business model, to secure a domestic REE supply chain for North America. While funding due-diligence discussions with the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (“AIDEA”) are proceeding as planned, the Company has allocated $750,000 to further ongoing specific business development activities and initial SMC engineering to ensure that the project timelines are attained.
This includes securing long-term supply agreements for US-allied feedstock(s) and finalizing a facility location within the Ketchikan Gateway Borough to enable engineering commencement in Q3 of 2021, following IMC’s testing and optimization program. Additionally, a very similar yet distinct engineering effort will commence on a similar timeline for the development of a ‘Lower 48’ SMC focused on REO production from LREEs.
In parallel to these technical activities, the Company is routinely engaged with Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy’s Alaska Development Team which has led to mutual discussions regarding near and long term REOs and metals/alloys supply for original equipment manufacturers (“OEMs”) involved in the electrification of the world and specifically, the transformation to electric vehicles (“EVs”). The Company is confident that these discussions will lead to long-term relationships with OEMs and/or their direct suppliers for offtake of the products from the planned SMCs, our prospective downstream strategic partners and the eventual Bokan-Dotson Ridge Heavy Rare Earth Element Project (“Bokan Project or Bokan”).
Long-term Resource Security
Ucore is dedicated to ultimately developing the Bokan Project in its quest to provide a secure domestic source of heavy REEs (“HREEs”). The HREEs are the most expensive and scarce inputs of the permanent magnet metals. As such:
- The Company is finalizing an approximately $400,000 work program[i] at Bokan Mountain for this summer (the “Summer ’21 Program”) to further upgrade the National Instrument 43-101 (“NI 43-101”) HREE mineral resource to convert a significant percentage of the currently ‘indicated’ resource to ‘measured.’ Secondly, the Company will obtain ≈50 tons of additional mineralized material to facilitate further testing of its metallurgical recovery methods. Both of these activities are to ready the Company to conduct a Pre-Feasibility Study (“PFS”) and/or a Feasibility Study (“FS”) in the near future as the REO market continues to indicate a steady increase in response to the advent of the global adoption of EVs.
- In April of 2021, Ucore completed the shipment of nearly 500 kg of sorted Bokan mineralized material to commence the approximately $130,000 second phase of ‘mill flowsheet development’ testing at SGS Canada – Lakefield. The goal of this testing program is to finalize the design of the Bokan mill flowsheet based on laboratory scale results which will include the recovery of REEs and the co-production of beryllium, zirconium, niobium and hafnium from the Bokan Project. The third phase of the program (to be undertaken as part of a PFS or FS) will be to conduct pilot-scale testing of the developed mill flowsheet utilizing mineralized material from the Summer ’21 Program, and ultimately concluding with separation and purification testing at IMC’s RapidSX Commercialization and Development Facility (“CDF”) in Kingston, Ontario.
The noted Bokan projects underscore our long-term commitment to developing the Bokan-Dotson Ridge resource and ultimately our goal of exploring/developing the entire Bokan Mountain Complex. We are taking steps now to position ourselves for an EV world – fortified by the highest-grade US HREE resource, disclosed per NI 43-101 standards.
We are just over halfway through the first year of our three-year business model and I am exceedingly pleased by the progress that IMC Chairman and CEO, Dr. Gareth Hatch, and the IMC team have made with the planned commercialization advancements of the RapidSX technology. IMC has routinely met its planned objectives regarding the commercial deployment of RapidSX over the past six months and their techno-economic progress is right on schedule. I am equally pleased with the Ucore team’s advancement of all of the related business development and technical activities that are necessary to position the Company as a leader in the race to secure a complete domestic REE supply chain.
I will summarize by noting that our near-term objectives are primarily focused on the most critical, feasible, timely and profitable solutions to what the United States and the ex-China REE industry needs right now, and to position ourselves to support these efforts in the timeliest possible manner. This very deliberate plan is underpinned by our Alaska-centric infrastructure and the RapidSX technology platform. We are confident of the value, advantages and timelines associated with our three-year business plan. Our energy, our passion and our capabilities have never been stronger — and I want all of our partners, stakeholders, and loyal shareholders to feel as excited and engaged about the development of this North American REE supply chain as we are at Ucore.
We sincerely thank you for your continued support,
Patrick Ryan, P.Eng.
Chief Executive Officer
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Ucore Rare Metals Inc.
[i] The Company is contracting with a US company and following all COVID-19 protocols and safety procedures as prescribed by the State of Alaska.
About Ucore Rare Metals Inc.
Ucore is focused on rare and critical metals resources, extraction, beneficiation and separation technologies with potential for production, growth, and scalability. Ucore has a 100% ownership stake in the Bokan-Dotson Ridge Rare Earth Element Project in Southeast Alaska. Ucore’s vision and plan is to transition to become a leading advanced technology company that provides metal separation products and services to the mining and mineral extraction industry.
Through strategic partnerships, this vision includes disrupting the People’s Republic of China’s dominance of the US REE supply chain through the development of a heavy rare earth processing facility – the Alaska Strategic Metals Complex (the “Alaska SMC”) in Southeast Alaska and the long-term development of Ucore’s heavy rare earth element mineral resource property located at Bokan Mountain on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.
Ucore is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange under the trading symbol “UCU” and in the United States on the OTC Markets’ OTCQX® Best Market under the ticker symbol “UURAF”. For further information, please visit www.ucore.com.
About Innovation Metals Corp.
IMC has developed the proprietary RapidSX™ process, for the low-cost separation and purification of REEs, Ni, Co, Li and other technology metals, via an accelerated form of solvent extraction. IMC is commercializing this approach for a number of metals, to help enable mining and metal-recycling companies to compete in today’s global marketplace. IMC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ucore Rare Metals Inc.
For more information, please www.innovationmetals.com.
About the RapidSX™ Technology
IMC developed the RapidSX separation technology with the assistance of US$1.8 million in funding from the United States Department of Defense (“US DoD”), resulting in the production of commercial-grade, separated rare-earth oxides (“REOs”) at the pilot scale. RapidSX combines the time-proven chemistry of conventional solvent extraction (“SX”) with a new column-based platform, which significantly reduces time to completion and plant footprint, as well as potentially lowering capital and operating costs. SX is the international rare-earth element (“REE”) industry’s standard commercial separation technology and is currently used by 100% of all REE producers worldwide for bulk, commercial separation of both heavy and light REEs. Utilizing similar chemistry to conventional SX, RapidSX is not a ‘new’ technology, but represents a significant improvement on the well-established, well-understood, proven conventional SX separation technology preferred by REE producers.
Michael L. Schrider, P.E., VP & COO of Ucore, has approved the scientific and technical content of this news release and is the Qualified Person responsible for its accuracy. Mr. Schrider, is a registered professional engineer in the State of Louisiana, holds a BS degree in engineering from the University of New Orleans and a MEng in mining engineering (mineral process emphasis) from The University of Arizona.
The “About Ucore” section of this press release includes certain statements that may be considered “forward-looking statements” regarding, among other things, the development of the Alaska SMC, the use of Innovation Metals Corp.’s RapidSX technology, and the long-term development of Ucore’s heavy rare earth element mineral resource property located at Bokan Mountain in Alaska, USA. All statements in this release (other than statements of historical facts) that address future business development, technological development and/or acquisition activities (including any related required financings), timelines, events, or developments that the Company expects, are forward-looking statements. Although the Company believes the expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are not guarantees of future performance or results and actual results or developments may differ materially from those in forward-looking statements. In regard to the disclosure in the “About Ucore” section above, the Company has assumed that it will be able to procure or retain additional partners and/or suppliers, in addition to Innovation Metals Corp., as suppliers for Ucore’s expected future Alaska SMC. Ucore has also assumed that sufficient external funding will be found to prepare a new National Instrument 43-101 (“NI 43-101”) technical report that demonstrates that the Bokan Mountain Rare Earth Elements project (“Bokan”) is feasible and economically viable for the production of both REE and co-product mineral materials and metals and the then prevailing market prices based upon assumed customer off-take agreements. Ucore has also assumed that sufficient external funding will be secured to develop the specific engineering plans for the Alaska SMC and its construction. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward-looking statements include, without limitation: Innovation Metals Corp. failing to protect its intellectual property rights in RapidSX; RapidSX failing to demonstrate commercial viability in large commercial-scale applications; Ucore not being able to procure additional key partners or suppliers for the Alaska SMC; Ucore not being able to raise sufficient funds to fund the specific design and construction of the Alaska SMC and/or the continued development of RapidSX; adverse capital-market conditions; unexpected due-diligence findings; the emergence of alternative superior metallurgy and metal-separation technologies; the inability of Ucore and/or Innovation Metals Corp. to retain its key staff members; a change in the legislation in Alaska and/or in the support expressed by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (“AIDEA”) regarding the development of Bokan and/or the Alaska SMC; the availability and procurement of any required interim and/or long-term financing that may be required; and general economic, market or business conditions.
Neither the TSXV nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined by the TSXV) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.