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Achieved Positive Preliminary Results from Phase I of Separation Pilot Plant Testing
November 6, 2015 - Lakewood, Colorado - Rare Element Resources Ltd. (NYSE MKT: REE and TSX: RES) (the “Company”), a publicly traded, strategic materials company focused on delivering rare earth products for technology and defense applications by advancing the Bear Lodge Critical Rare Earth Project in northeast Wyoming, reported today that it has filed its unaudited consolidated financial statements on Form 10-Q for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2015 on www.sec.gov and www.sedar.com.
“We continue to make progress on multiple fronts with the Bear Lodge Project,” said Randall J. Scott, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are excited with the success at taking our innovative separation technology to the next level by completing the first phase of pilot plant testing. This work confirmed our ability to upgrade the Bear Lodge concentrate to more than 99.9% pure while selectively removing 85% of the cerium and all the detectable thorium in the initial stage of separation using only three steps. This also indicates a significantly more efficient and environmentally attractive process than traditional separation methods and sets an excellent foundation for the remaining separation test work. While permitting remains generally on track, the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) is now not expected until the end of the year, which likely means the final record of decision (ROD) will be in late 2016. We continue to work closely with the relevant government agencies for timely completion of the process.”
Financial Results (Please note that financial results published by the Company are all stated in U.S. Dollars.)
The Company does not have production-related revenues at this time. The net loss for the quarter ended September 30, 2015, totaled $2.6 million, or $0.05 per share, compared with a net loss of $3.6 million, or $0.08 per share, for the same period in 2014. The key drivers behind the year-over-year decrease in net loss for the quarter were:
- A decrease in exploration and evaluation expenses of $0.8 million, from a reduction in exploration and technical and economic evaluation work with the focus shifting to permitting and separation testing; and
- Lower corporate administrative costs of $0.2 million, primarily due to the Company’s cost containment efforts and a reduction in stock-based compensation.
The consolidated net loss for the nine-month period ended September 30, 2015 was $7.1 million, or $0.14 per share, compared with $11.1 million, or $0.23 per share, for the same period in 2014. The key drivers behind the decrease in net loss were:
- A decrease in exploration and evaluation expenses of $3.3 million;
- Lower corporate administrative cost of $0.8 million;
- Partially offset by an unfavorable variance in currency translation and unrealized gains on derivatives, collectively of $0.2 million.
As of September 30, 2015, the Company had cash and cash equivalents of $6.2 million, compared with $8.4 million at June 30, 2015. Cash used during the quarter was $2.2 million. Cash and cash equivalents at September 30, 2015 are believed to be sufficient to conduct our current planned activities for the next 12 months.
During the next 12 months, we expect to:
- Support the U.S. Forest Service in their preparation of the draft EIS on the Project, currently expected before the end of 2015;
- Complete the evaluation of Phase One of the elemental separation pilot plant test work, the successful preliminary results were announced on October 14, 2015;
- Continue to work with regulatory agencies on permit applications, with the goal of having all the necessary permits/licenses at the same time as the final record of decision (ROD), currently expected at the end of 2016;
- Incorporate the results of the geotechnical confirmation and condemnation drilling work into detailed engineering studies;
- Pursue strategic relationships and continue discussions with potential offtake partners, including providing upgraded, separated product samples and regular Project updates: and
- Seek additional funding to support the 2016 planned activities.
The Company will look to support continued advancement of the Bear Lodge Project on the preferred timeline by raising additional capital, most likely through strategic relationships or offtake agreements. The Company continues to monitor market conditions, both in the rare earth sector and in the equities markets. If it is not successful in raising additional capital, the Company has the ability to defer certain activities to reduce its rate of expenditures.
Pilot Plant Success
During the quarter, the Company designed, built and operated a pilot plant for testing its patent-pending rare earth separation technology. The results of the first phase of testing, reported in early October, confirmed the ability to upgrade the concentrate coming from the hydrometallurgical plant to over 99.9% pure total rare earth oxide. Equally significant was the ability to remove 85% of the cerium and all the detectable thorium from the concentrate in only three initial solvent extraction (SX) steps. The process represents meaningful improvement over traditional SX methods, and it is expected to reduce capital and operating costs associated with separation, be more efficient and result in no waste discharge, making it more environmentally friendly.
Unique to the process was the ability to strip the separated cerium and thorium from the metal-bearing organic solution outside of SX with the barren organic and stripping agent being recycled. While additional test work is planned, the demonstrated success of Phase One represents a solid foundation for the next level of testing aimed at separating the >99.9% pure concentrate into separate, sellable products. For additional details on the preliminary results of the pilot plant, please see the Company’s press release dated October 14, 2015.
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) continues their work on the draft EIS, expected to be complete in December. While the EIS is not a permit, it does result in the USFS ROD for the construction, operation and closure of mining operations on public lands. Because the final EIS and related ROD are the overarching decision documents relating to operations at Bear Lodge, all other permits are dependent on it. The USFS has stated it will complete the final EIS and the final ROD within one year after completion of the draft EIS. Other permit applications are being made to align with the proposed USFS EIS timeline.
Development Tasks and Timing
The Company has a number of other activities to undertake on the Project prior to a construction decision by the Board of Directors. These include engineering studies and advanced metallurgical work in support of a feasibility study; design, construction and operation of a planned, larger-scale demonstration plant; completion of a feasibility study; and securing off-take agreements and/or identification of strategic partners. Because of the success of the Company’s separation technology test work and the anticipated value it represents, we plan to evaluate the means and economic benefit of incorporating separation into our planned operations as part of the feasibility study.
These activities are subject to additional financing and other factors. A construction decision will be dependent on the completion of these activities as well as receipt of all necessary permits, the availability of adequate capital, completion of a positive feasibility study and securing of off-take customer agreements for some or all of the Project output. From the time of the successful completion of the tasks listed above and a development decision from the Board, Project construction is expected to take 12 to 16 months.
The unaudited quarterly financial statements are available through the Canadian securities regulatory authorities at www.sedar.com, and with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission at www.sec.gov. They are also available on the Company’s website at www.rareelementresources.com.
Rare Element Resources Ltd. is a publicly traded, strategic materials company focused on delivering rare earth products for technology 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 electronics, fiber optics, laser systems for health and defense, as well as many evolving green technologies, like hybrid cars, solar panels and wind turbines. Permitting and feasibility work on the Project continue to advance. The Company is an affiliate member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute, a combined government and private sector organization committed to eliminating supply chain issues for rare earths and other critical elements.
For additional information, please visit the Company’s website at www.rareelementresources.com or contact Robbin Lee at 720-278-2462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forward Looking Statements
This news release contains forward-looking statements and forward-looking information within the respective meanings 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" (including negative or grammatical variations thereof) or by discussions of strategy or intentions. Such forward-looking statements include statements regarding the expecting timing and outcomes relating to state and federal permit applications and approvals, metallurgical and separation test work progress and outcome, feasibility study timing and outcomes, rare earth price fluctuations and demand and expectations regarding financing needs and the Company’s expectations regarding its ability to raise capital.
Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause our actual results or achievements to be materially different from any future results or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.
Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially include, but are not limited to, the development plans for the Bear Lodge Project, delay or failure to receive government approvals and permits; the progress and results of the feasibility study; fluctuations in demand for, and price of, rare earth products; success of process technology under testing or development and timing; results from geological evaluations and programs; timing of and unexpected events at the Bear Lodge property and in connection with construction of the demonstration plant; changes in U.S. and Canadian securities markets; and our ability to raise additional financing necessary to construct the demonstration plant and conduct our business. 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 factors set out in our filings made from time-to-time with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Canadian securities regulators, including without limitation, the Company’s most recent reports on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q. We do not undertake to update any statements or estimates at any particular time or in response to any particular event. Investors and others should not assume that any forecasts in this news release represent management's estimate as of any date other than the date of this news release.