Ucore secures U.S. site for rare earths processing facility

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Ucore Rare Metals Inc. [UCU-TSXV, UURAF-OTQX] said it has acquired a site in Louisiana for the development of its first commercial rare earth element (REE) processing facility.

The company said the selected site for the Louisiana strategic metals complex (LA-SMC) is secured through a multi-year lease with the England Economic and Industrial Development District at their England Airpark complex. The England Airpark is a former 3,600-acre Air Force base dedicated to generating economic development in central Louisiana.

“This lease structure allows us time to get to a revenue position and to simultaneously cultivate developing opportunities for planned expansion and prospective joint ventures for the adjacent 50 acres of industrial property as we truly seek to establish a comprehensive and integrated rare earth supply chain in North America,’’ said Ucore Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Schrider.

The chosen site is an 80,800-square foot brownfield facility on a 10.7-plus-acre industrial parcel of land.

Founded in 2006, Ucore Rare Metals aims to become a leader in rare earth element processing (REE). The company acquired Innovation Metals Corp. in 2020 and is commercializing its proprietary RapidSX critical metals separation technology. Ucore has said it aims to deploy the technology in a North American processing facility by early 2025.

Ucore shares advanced on the news, rising 1.08% or $0.01 to 93 cents. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of $1.57 and 57 cents.

Rare earth elements are a group of 15 elements with tongue-twisting names like Neodymium, Terbium and Dysprosium, and which are vital to green technology and high-tech applications. They fall into two sub-groups: light and heavy, with the heavies being relatively more scarce.

The company has a 100%-ownership stake in the Bokan-Dotson Ridge Rare Earth Project in Alaska.

According to the company’s website, the Bokan property is particularly enriched with heavy rare earth elements, including the critical elements Dysprosium, Terbium and Yttrium. Approximately 40% (by weight) of the rare earth elements contained on the Dotson Ridge property are heavy rare earth elements, the company said.

With the necessary development funding in place, the Bokan-Dotson Ridge can be “near shovel ready” in under 30 months, the company has said. According to a 2013 preliminary economic assessment (PEA), the Bokan Mountain project located southwest of Ketchikan, Alaska will be a 1,500 tonne-per-day underground mining operation with a lifespan of 11 years. The PEA says mineralized material will be processed in a material sorting and leaching process plant, coupled with an advanced separation process to directly produce saleable rare oxide (REO) concentrates. The PEA is based on an inferred mineral resource of 5.2 million tonnes. The projected capital cost is estimated at US$221 million.

Ucore said it is developing the LA-SMC to process 2,000 tonnes annually of total rare earth oxides (TREO) by the first half of 2025, expanding to 5,000 tonnes annually by 2026 and 7,500 tonnes by 2027. The lease arrangement is designed to ensure the facility’s long-term viability and employment opportunities for the residents of Rapides and the surrounding Parishes.

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