Bear Lodge Project Overview
Rare Element Resources is positioning the Bear Lodge Project, located in northeastern Wyoming, to be the next North American source of rare earths. With its premier location and expected +40-year life, the project has the opportunity to produce many of the critical rare earths necessary to support today’s evolving technologies. Used in everything from cell phones to wind turbines, from precision lasers to TVs, rare earths are the technology metals that will continue to drive innovation.
Rare Earths at the Bear Lodge Project
The quantity and quality of the resource at Bear Lodge make it a world-class mining district and a dependable, long-term source for the rare earths elements (REE) the world demands. Additionally, the Project is rich in “critical rare earths,” or CREE, those elements that are less common, higher valued, and expected to experience better demand growth and price support over the longer term. Bear Lodge is situated in one of the best mining districts in the world. The mine site is located just off I-90, with easy access to power and good supporting infrastructure. The hydrometallurgical plant will be located just outside of Upton, Wyoming, in an existing industrial park with good road access and an existing rail spur. Additionally, both communities contain a ready work force, skilled in natural resource development.
The Company continues to advance detail engineering, while a complete economic analysis will be undertaken for the upcoming Feasibility Study. It is also working with regulatory agencies on a thorough environmental review in compliance with permitting efforts. These tasks all support the goal of beginning operations in 2016.
The Bear Lodge Project has two major components. First is the Bull Hill Mine, which includes both the Bull Hill and Whitetail Ridge deposits, as well as several identified target areas. It is located approximately 12 miles north of Sundance, Wyoming, in central Crook County. Second is the Upton Hydrometallurgical Plant (Hydromet), located 40 miles south of the Bull Hill Mine and approximately 2 miles west of the town of Upton, Wyoming, in north-central Weston County. The project consists of approximately 9,000 acres and is located on both private land and land administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service - Black Hills National Forest.
The Bear Lodge Property is located in the northwestern portion of the Black Hills uplift. The property is situated immediately near and east of the crest of the Bear Lodge Mountains, a relatively small northwesterly trending range. The project area is flanked to the west by the Powder River Basin, famous for its extensive coal mines, and is surrounded by the Great Plains. The Bear Lodge property lies approximately 22 air miles west of the South Dakota state line and 55 air miles east of Gillette, Wyoming.
The Bear Lodge Mountains were initially prospected for gold during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Rare earth mineralization was first discovered in 1949, and the U.S. Bureau of Mines conducted some limited exploration in the early 1950s.
In 1972, exploration was reinitiated by Duval Corporation and focused on copper/molybdenum, but it was soon determined that Bear Lodge had the potential to host an economically significant rare earth deposit. Molycorp Inc., the only domestic rare earth producer, was brought in as a partner but was not able to advance the project primarily due to weakening market fundamentals. At approximately the same time, the U.S. Geological Survey conducted field and laboratory studies and published a professional paper that concluded that the Bear Lodge area has one of the largest resources of total REE in the United States.
Hecla Mining Company explored the Bear Lodge area, first for rare earths and then for gold, between 1987 and 1991. Their exploration effort identified the Bull Hill deposit based on three drill holes and the Whitetail Ridge mineralization based on two drill holes. Between 1994 and 1996, the property was explored for gold. In 2004, Rare Element Resources initiated REE exploration activities in the Bull Hill target area. Between 2004 and 2013, a total of more than160,000 feet of drilling was completed in over 200 core holes that range in depth from 88 to 1,886 feet. Geophysical and geological mapping also identified and/or confirmed REE exploration target areas at Bull Hill NW, Whitetail Ridge, Bull Hill West, Carbon, and East Taylor.
This work greatly expanded the understanding of the mineralization at Bear Lodge and culminated in the current Measured and Indicated (M&I) resource that can support a 40-year mine life at 1,000 tons per day. Information gathered in the 2013 drill program is being evaluated and the results will be included in the feasibility study planned for the project.
Summary of Measured and Indicated Resource (Total Rare Earth Oxide) @ 1.5% Cutoff Grade
| ||Tons |
|Grade TREO |
|Contained TREO lbs |
|Contained TREO Kg |
|Measured ||3.0 ||3.77 ||226 ||102 |
|Indicated ||15.0 ||2.91 ||873 ||396 |
|Total ||18.0 ||3.05 ||1,099 ||498 |
Please see most recent NI 43-101 Technical Report for additional detail. Mineral resources were estimated by Alan C. Nobel, P.E. of Ore Reserves Engineering (O.R.E.), an independent Qualified Person as defined by NI 43-101.