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Rare Element Resources provides an update on plans for a Demonstration Scale Rare Earth Processing and Separation Plant

by Paul Barker | Aug 19, 2020

Plant to utilize proprietary technology to produce commercial grade Nd/Pr high-purity oxide for U.S. rare earth magnet production 

August 19, 2020 – Littleton, Colorado – Rare Element Resources Ltd. (“RER” or the “Company”) (OTCQB: REEMF) is pleased to provide an update on the pilot scale rare earth processing and separation test work campaign which supports the Company’s progression to the next phase of design and planning for a demonstration scale rare earth processing and separation plant. This plant is intended to demonstrate, at industrial scale, the separation of rare earth elements utilizing the Company’s proprietary intellectual property in preparation for the commercial phase.

Since February 2019, Umwelt-und Ingenieurtechnik GmbH Dresden (“UIT”), an affiliate of Synchron, a significant shareholder in the Company and a General Atomics affiliated company, has operated a hydrometallurgical pilot plant in Germany utilizing ore from the Company’s Bear Lodge Project in Wyoming. Using the Company’s technology, UIT processed 1.1 tonnes of ore, with an average grade of approximately 10% total rare earth oxide (TREO), to produce 13.6 kg of neodymium/praseodymium (Nd/Pr) oxide at commercial grade. This represents an average Nd/Pr recovery rate of 89.5%. Lanthanum (La) oxide, and a mixed mid and heavy rare earth concentrate were also recovered. The Company’s innovative patented process was further optimized and involves significantly fewer steps in a closed cycle with attendant environmental benefits and expected lower operating and capital costs compared with current technologies.

Throughout 2020, UIT will continue conducting additional pilot plant test work to further optimize the separation processes and the development of scale-up design criteria for the demonstration plant along with development of operating and capital cost estimates. To date, UIT has completed the leach-precipitation phase of the campaign, has started the solvent extraction (SX) separation phase, and is anticipated to complete its work by the end of the year.

The demonstration plant will process the already stockpiled high-grade ore, approximately 900 tonnes, from Wyoming’s Bear Lodge Project. The Company anticipates, once funding is secured, the demonstration plant design will be finalized and followed by construction within a period of 18-24 months.  Operations to process and separate rare-earth-elements from the stockpiled ore will follow in an additional 12-month period.  

Randall Scott, President and CEO of RER stated “We are pleased that over the last several months, the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Energy have announced significant funding initiatives to advance domestic rare earth production as well as rare earth-containing permanent magnet manufacturing. The overwhelming dependence of the U.S. and allied nations on China as the principal rare earths producer and supplier is comparable with Chinese dominance of the medical supply chain that has been highlighted by the COVID-19 global crisis. America’s dependence on Chinese rare earths poses a grave economic, energy, and technology threat and must be urgently addressed. We are pleased that our government has recognized this. It is our goal to play a key part in these initiatives to bring rare earth production to the U.S.” 

Synchron, UIT and General Atomics are privately held companies engaged in the development and production of advanced technology products and systems for the energy and defense sectors. 

Rare Element Resources Ltd. is a publicly traded, strategic materials company focused on delivering rare earth products for technology, energy and defense applications by advancing the Bear Lodge Critical Rare Earth Project in northeast Wyoming. Bear Lodge is a significant mineralized district containing many of the less common, more valuable, critical rare earths that are essential for high-strength permanent magnets, electronics, fiber optics, laser systems for health and defense, as well as many technologies like electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines.  

Please contact Randy Scott at +1 720-278-2460 or rscott@rareelementresources.com, for additional information.


Forward-Looking Statements   
This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of securities legislation in the United States and Canada.  Except for statements of historical fact, certain information contained herein constitutes forward-looking statements.  Forward-looking statements are usually identified by our use of certain terminology, including “will,” “believes,” “may,” “expects,” “should,” “seeks,” “anticipates,” “plans,” “has potential to,” or “intends,” or by discussions of strategy or intentions.  Such forward-looking statements include statements regarding the impact of the proprietary process on costs and efficiencies of rare earth processing and separation, the timing and scope of further pilot plant test work and potential demonstration plant, and the potential for government funding initiatives to be realized or its potential impact on the Company or Bear Lodge Project.  Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially include, but are not limited to, results of continued processing test work, ability to obtain demonstration plant licensing and funding, successful further permitting activities for the Bear Lodge Project, availability of sufficient capital, and other matters discussed under the caption “Risk Factors” in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, and our other periodic and current reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) and available on www.sec.gov and with the Canadian securities commissions available on www.sedar.com. There can be no assurance that future developments affecting the Company will be those anticipated by management. Please refer to the discussion of these and other uncertainties and risk factors set out in our filings made from time to time with the SEC and the Canadian regulators, including, without limitation, our reports on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q. Any forward-looking statement made by us in this news release is based only on information currently available to us and speaks only as of the date on which it is made.  While we may elect to update our forward-looking statements at any time, we undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether written or oral, that may be made from time to time, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.

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Bear Lodge Panoramic
Sample Drilling
Core Samples

The Bear Lodge Project area is a significant mineralized district that contains one of the largest disseminated rare earth deposits in North America. This deposit contains many of the less common, more valuable critical rare earths that are essential for electronics, fiber optics, laser systems for health and defense, and many evolving green technologies, such as hybrid cars, solar panels and wind turbines. Rare Element Resources owns 100% of the project and, after completing a positive preliminary feasibility study in 2014, is current working with state and federal regulators to secure the permits and licenses necessary to move the Project toward development. 

Project Highlights

  • Solid Returns with Excellent Upside – the October 2014 PFS shows an after-tax 29% IRR, a NPV of $330 million using a 10% discount and an initial payback period of less than 3 years. It also identified several opportunities for upside including further operating cost reductions with refinement of the Company’s proprietary processing technology, the ability to recover Inferred mineral resource within the pit outline, the current investigation of further separation as a means to participate more fully in the value chain, and the ability to boost revenues by recovering certain by-products.
  • Superior Location – Wyoming is recognized by Canada’s Fraser Institute as one of the world’s top five mining jurisdictions. The site is ideally located near existing infrastructure, has access to low cost power and is generally supported by the local communities, who are well versed in natural resource development.
  • Robust Ore Body – the strength of our mineral resource is demonstrated by a 45 year Project life with a high-grade core that  results in a 2.9 year payback period.
  • Proprietary Technology – continued improvements to the Company’s patent-pending recovery technology have delivered a 99.999% pure, thorium-free TREO concentrate.  Recent work has identified an enhancement to existing separation technology that has produced a number of high purity, separated rare earth products in bench-scale testing.  The process is not only efficient and cost effective but environmentally friendly.  Pilot plant testing was started in July 2015. 
  • Permitting Advancing – the US Forest Service is preparing the Environmental Impact Statement on the site, the draft of which is expect in the second half of 2015.  The Company submitted its applications for key permits and license to the appropriate state and federal agencies in the second quarter of 2015. 
  • Optimization Work – optimization work identified in the PFS is currently being undertaken and will support detailed engineering and the Feasibility Study.