Sharing Our Progress
What better way to spend a beautiful fall afternoon in Wyoming than with your friends – federal, state and local leaders, community members and shareholders – sharing the progress we’ve made and our vision for the future. Rare Element Resources, along with General Atomics, had that pleasure when we held an open house on Monday, October 9, in Upton, WY, to celebrate our ceremonial groundbreaking on our rare earth processing and separation demonstration plant.
It was great to see so many familiar faces at the Upton Community Center. As I stood before the standing-room-only crowd, I realized that only in Wyoming would you find such strong support from such a diverse group of people for an undertaking that is critical not only to the community but for the state and the nation.
Project supporter, Governor Gordon, could not join us in person but sent an inspiring message of congratulations via a pre-recorded video that we played for those gathered. Jennifer Thomson from his staff attended as his representative.
We were fortunate to be joined by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), who reminded us through his remarks how uniquely suited the great state of Wyoming is, through its rich history of responsible mineral development, to play a key role as our nation strives for self-reliance and away from dependence on others for critical rare earth minerals. He shared his vision of what a rare earth supply chain could look like for the people of Wyoming and his fears for a nation that must rely on China for these essential building blocks, for not only our high-tech world but for many military defense applications.
Also in attendance were members of the staff from both Senator Lummis’ and Congresswoman Hageman’s offices. Among our other friends from the State in the room were Chuck Gray, Wyoming Secretary of State; Curt Meier, Wyoming State Treasurer; Rob Creager, Executive Director Wyoming Energy Authority; Representatives Don Burkhart, Chip Neiman, and Allen Slagle and Brandi Harlow, Wyoming Business Council.
Upton Mayor, Nick Trandahl, spoke about the Company’s history with the town and expressed his appreciation and ongoing support for the project. He also shared his personal experience with rare earths. He told about his time in the army and firsthand knowledge of the importance of rare earths in weapon guidance systems. He continues to see Bear Lodge as a very important project in what he deemed “these increasingly turbulent times.”
Neal Blue, Chairman of General Atomics and defense industry titan, gave the audience insight into how critical rare earths are in permanent magnet motors (PMM) and how important PMM are in electric propulsion and energy generation. As one of the largest military contractors, he also pointed out the role rare earths play in allowing micro-processing to continue to reduce in size to the atomic level and in military applications, like the launch and recovery systems for aircraft carriers. He expressed his concern about the enormous economic leverage China has through their current monopoly of rare earths and stated how important it is that America retain its leading edge in providing advance technology. He sees the demonstration plant as being a significant first step in addressing those concerns. Linden Blue, Co-Chairman, and Alec Gordon, COO of GA-EMS, also attended the event in demonstration of the significance of the project to General Atomics.
I want to personally thank the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources, the Shell 3D Visualization Center, Cole James and Program Manager, Kyle Summerfield, for the work they did in creating what I think was a very unique experience – allowing us to share our plans for the demonstration plant with visitors through a virtual reality tour. This immersive experience let participants feel like they were walking inside the plant amongst the processing equipment, which is currently being assembled offsite and will be moved to the site in the coming months.
The UW College of Engineering and Physical Sciences’ Innovation WYrkshop Makerspace, led by Rebecca Austin and including students Nick Matter, Madison Manning, Colter Helm and Joel Kirchner, provided the 3D model of the plant to help people visualize what we will be constructing in Upton over the next several months.
The goal of the demonstration plant is to produce a separated, high-purity neodymium and praseodymium oxide as well as other rare earth products. Data generated by the demonstration plant will be used for design scale up of the process and equipment and to generate the economic data for a commercial-size facility. Members of the design team from General Atomics and Rare Element Resources were present to answer questions from our guests.
This community gathering highlighted the strong partnerships that have been built, and how the people of Wyoming band together when working towards a common goal. I believe our rare earth demonstration plant is a big first step in what will continue to be a great partnership with the state of Wyoming. It is also a major milestone in our quest to build a secure, domestic supply chain for the rare earths so critical to our country’s economic health, our continued technology leadership, and our national security.
Thanks to all who took time to celebrate with us.
What can you say about Wyoming?
May 11, 2023
Beautiful and wild with amazing vistas and friendly people. What can you say about doing business in Wyoming – no place better.
Rare Element Resources (RER) started exploring the Bear Lodge Project, located in northeast Wyoming, in 2004. Wyoming is a state that understands resource development is a critical element of an industrial society with mineral extraction being the largest contributor to the State’s GDP. Given that, they recognized quickly that the identification of a large, mineralized district of rare earth elements at Bear Lodge represented an excellent opportunity to diversify further their mineral resource portfolio and bring new, high-paying jobs to the State.
Wyoming has the right ingredients for a resource development company – a rich history of mineral development, a pro-business focus, plus a skilled-workforce and positive tax climate. Former Governor Mead began in 2012 by introducing his Value-Added Business and Industry Plan to do more processing and end-use activities within Wyoming of minerals produced from Wyoming. Governor Gordon has taken additional meaningful action by passing legislation aimed at streamlining the permitting process for projects like Bear Lodge. The Wyoming Energy Authority also approved a $4.4M grant to support development of the Company’s demonstration plant with a goal of scaling up our proprietary recovery/separation technology in support of commercial development.
Federal and State legislators have met with the company, had site visits, and continue to have open dialogues on how they can support our efforts. Local leaders, like Mayor Trandahl (Upton) and city staff, follow the company’s progress closely and meet with our team regularly.
Recently, RER started working with the talented faculty and students at the University of Wyoming’s Center for Business and Economic Analysis (CBEA) on a review of the domestic and international outlook for rare earths as it relates to the company’s project. CBEA’s mission is to support the economic growth and diversification of Wyoming’s economy through applied economics to promote a thriving and prosperous State.
Rare earths, like gold or uranium, can be found in small quantities, almost everywhere on earth, even in seawater. What is rare is finding them in high grades with good volumes in a place where the value of mineral development is understood and encouraged and where State leaders actively support a project’s advancement. We have all those things with Bear Lodge and thank the great state of Wyoming for their continued support.