Key Step Towards Independent 100%-US Mine-to-Magnet Rare Earth Supply Chain
New York, NY, June 11, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — via NEWMEDIAWIRE — USA Rare Earth, LLC, the funding and development partner of the Round Top Heavy Rare Earth and Critical Minerals Project in West Texas, together with Texas Mineral Resources Corp. (OTCQB: TMRC), is pleased to announce that its rare earth and critical minerals pilot plant processing facility in Wheat Ridge, Colorado has received its required permits and its pilot plant is now being commissioned.
Once fully commissioned, the plant will be focused initially on group separation of rare earths into heavy (dysprosium, terbium), middle, and light (neodymium, praseodymium) rare earths (REE’s). The final phase of the pilot work will be the further separation of high-purity individual REE compounds.
At the same time, the pilot plant will also be focused on recovery of non-REEs focusing on lithium, uranium, beryllium, gallium, zirconium, hafnium and aluminum, all of which are on the U.S. Government Critical Minerals List. Confirming the recovery of these critical non-REEs will support upgrading the measured and indicated resources to proven and probable reserves (with no in-fill drilling required), and completion of the Preliminary Feasibility Study (PFS).
“Establishing an independent domestic rare earth and critical minerals supply chain is monumental for USA Rare Earth and for the United States, overcoming reliance on China for materials and processing that are essential for defense applications and advanced technology manufacturing,” said Pini Althaus, CEO of USA Rare Earth.
“This is an important step towards USA Rare Earth’s objective to build the first rare earth and critical minerals processing facility outside China and to bring the Round Top project into full commercial production. Our Colorado pilot plant will have the ability to produce the full range of high purity, separated rare earths as well as other critical minerals such as lithium,” Mr. Althaus continued.
With the Round Top project, the processing facility and the recent acquisition of the neo magnet plant formerly owned and operated by Hitachi, USA Rare Earth has a three-pronged mine-to-magnet strategy to establish a resilient, 100%-domestic supply chain for rare earth magnets, which are essential for modern manufacturing ranging from defense applications to wind turbines, electric vehicles, smart phones, advanced medical devices, and the physical backbone of emerging 5G networks.
USA Rare Earth recently announced that it had completed its Phase I bench scale testing. This phase of work utilized feed solutions produced from pilot heap leach columns processing ore from Round Top and demonstrated the ability to load and concentrate rare earths (REE’s) in the presence of high concentrations of non-REEs, including other critical minerals such as lithium.
Restoring a 100% U.S.-Based Rare Earth Supply Chain
USA Rare Earth’s pilot plant is the second link in a 100% U.S.-based rare earth oxide supply chain, drawing on feedstock from our Round Top deposit. “Together with our recently acquired rare earth magnet manufacturing platform, Round Top and our pilot plant constitute essential links in restoring a mine-to-magnet domestic U.S. rare earth supply chainwithout the material ever leaving the United States, thereby alleviating the current dependence on China for the both raw materials and mineral processing,” Mr. Althaus noted.
Aside from Round Top’s potential to supply a significant amount of material for U.S. defense as well as commercial applications, USA Rare Earth’s initiative will reinvigorate advanced technology manufacturing in the U.S. for companies currently dependent on foreign sources for supply. In turn, this should provide the U.S. with job creation in manufacturing, and potentially generate hundreds of billions or more into the U.S. economy through the ability to be able to produce products in the U.S. currently being produced in China.
Under Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and Department of Energy (DoE) grants, the CIX/CIC process successfully produced high-purity (99.99% or 99.999%) rare earth compounds from material from Round Top and other sources. The work currently underway at our Wheat Ridge pilot plant builds on that expertise and includes the Phase I initial process preparation to separate REEs from other minerals, including targeted Critical Minerals and metals such as lithium.
The CIX/CIC units at the Wheat Ridge pilot facility are capable of processing several thousand liters of leach solution per day. The CIX process concentrates large volumes of leach solution to smaller volumes of higher-grade solution. Continuing leach optimization studies have identified improvements through the controlled addition of acid to maximize REEs in solution while minimizing and separating other elements.
USA Rare Earth Processing Technical Team
Mike Vaisey, Chief Technical Advisor, is an experienced mining and chemical industry executive and Chemical Engineer, with 30 years’ operating and project development experience across mining and refining operations, project development, operational leadership, research and technology. He has occupied numerous positions with Lynas Corporation, including Chief Technology Officer, leading the technical development of the Mt Weld Light Rare Earths Project that reached full production rates in March 2017.
Richard Shaw has a proven track record in the development and commercial implementation of ion exchange processes, which are now well established and utilized in more than 50 countries in many different applications. Richard has worked extensively in the pharmaceutical, nuclear, chemical and metals processing industries and brings an unparalleled diversity of experience to the team. Among many assignments for major companies such as BHP, Anglo American, Barrick Gold, Newmont/Goldcorp and Freeport-McMoRan.
Inventure Renewables’ primary business is helping agri-business, oleo-chemical and biofuel companies find ways to turn waste products and by-products into value-added materials to increase overall profitability. It has extensive experience in commercial CIX applications separating low concentrations of metals and minerals from plant and waste solutions.
Resource Development, Inc (RDi) is widely acknowledged as a leader in mining process technology. Its state-of-the-art laboratory, located near USA Rare Earth’s Wheat Ridge, Colorado facility, includes flotation, column leaching, hydro- and pyro-metallurgical, magnetic/electrostatic separation, pressure oxidation, and solid/liquid separation equipment to support flow sheet optimization.
About USA Rare Earth, LLC
USA Rare Earth, LLC has an option to earn up to an 80% interest in, and is the operator of, the Round Top Heavy Rare Earth and Critical Minerals Project located in Hudspeth County, West Texas from Texas Mineral Resources Corp. (TMRC: OTCQB). Round Top hosts a wide range of critical heavy rare earth elements, high-tech metals, including lithium, uranium and beryllium, and, based on the Preliminary Economic Assessment (dated August 16, 2019) projects a pre tax net present value using a 10% discount rate of $1.56 billion based on a 20-year mine plan that is only 13% of the identified measured, indicated and inferred resources. The PEA estimates an internal rate of return of 70% and average annual net revenues of $395 million a year after average royalties of $26 million a year payable to the State of Texas. Based on the cost estimates set forth in the PEA, Round Top would be one of the lowest-cost rare earth producers, and one of the lowest cost lithium producers in the world. The Round Top Deposit hosts 16 of the 17 rare earth elements, plus other high-value tech minerals (including lithium) and is well located to serve the US internal demand. In excess of 60% of materials at Round Top will be used directly in green or renewable energy technologies. Round Top contains 13 of the 35 minerals deemed “critical” by the Department of the Interior and contains critical elements required by the United States, both for national defense and industry. For more information about USA Rare Earth, visit www.usarareearth.com.
About Texas Mineral Resources Corp.
Texas Mineral Resources Corp.’s focus is to develop and commercialize its Round Top heavy rare earth technology metals and industrial minerals project located in Hudspeth County, Texas, 85 miles southeast of El Paso. Additionally, the Company plans on developing alternative sources of strategic minerals through the processing of coal waste and other related materials. The Company’s common stock trades on the OTCQB U.S. tier under the symbol “TMRC.”
USA Rare Earth LLC
Pini Althaus, Chief Executive Officer
Texas Mineral Resources Corp.
Anthony Marchese, Chairman