Commerce Resources Corp. [CCE-TSXV, CMRZF-OTCQX, -D7HO-FSE] said Wednesday it has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) to deliver amounts of Mixed Rare Earth Carbonate produced from the company’s Ashram Rare Earth and Fluorspar deposit in Quebec.
“The intention of this collaboration is to complete the first full rare earth element supply chain in Canada from mine to metal,’’ Commerce said in a press release.
Commerce shares advanced on the news, rising 4.8% or $0.005 to 11 cents. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of 21.5 cents and 10 cents.
Rare earth elements are a group of 15 elements with tongue-twisting names like Neodymium (Nd), Terbium (Tb), Praseodymium (Pr) and Dysprosium (Dy), and which are vital to green technology and high-tech applications.
Rare earths used in magnets (Nd, Pr, Dy Tb) make up the lion’s share of global value.
Companies such as Commerce see an opportunity because the U.S. relies on China, the dominant global supplier, for about 80% of its rare earth imports. As a result, security of supply has been an issue, underlining the need to develop new sources of rare earths in North America.
SRC is constructing North America’s first fully integrated rare earths processing facility, spanning the stages from minerals to metals. The facility is expected to be fully operational in late 2024 and has already demonstrated each individual stage, including Neodymium-Praseodymium (Ndpr) ingots.
The Ashram deposit ranks as one of the largest REE (and fluorspar) deposits globally, consisting of a monazite-dominated (that is strong NdPr), single mineralized body outcropping at surface. It has a drill-delinated footprint of over 700 metres along strike, 300 metres across and 600 metres deep. The deposit remains open at depth.
Due to its simple gangue and well-understood rare earth mineralogy, the Ashram deposit is thought to be capable of producing high-grade mineral concentrates at high recovery (over 40% REO at over 75% recovery), in line with active global producers.
A preliminary economic assessment (PEA) indicates that the project can deliver positive cash flow from a 4,000 tonne-per-day open pit operation with a 25-year initial mine-life. The PEA is based on a March 2012 mineral resource estimate consisting of 1.6 million tonnes at 1.77% rare earth oxide (REO) and 3.8 Fluorspar (F) in the measured category, an indicated resource of 27.2 million tonnes at 1.90% REO and 2.9% F, and an inferred resource of 219.8 million tonnes at 1.88% REO and 2.2% F, at a cut-off grade of 1.25% REO.
“We are pleased to sign this letter of intent with SRC, who is positioned to become the first commercial REE processor in Canada,’’ said Commerce Resources President and CEO Chris Grove. “We are happy to provide, once in production, amounts of our mixed rare earth carbonate concentrate from our Ashram deposit to SRC in Saskatchewan.’’