Kebaowek vs Vital; Q1 RE-related China output Q1; Car Sales plunge; China Encourages FDI in RE; IREL get Tamil Nadu Licence; The Greenland Case; Neo Report Q1; NioCorp's Rare Earths; Prices bounce.
Rare Earth 2022 May 22
There is movement, things are happening. On a broader front, not just blips here and there.
Sometimes it is interesting to look at quarterly activity reports. For example the one from Vital Metals. It talks about the Wigu Hill project in Tanzania:
During the quarter, the Company continued discussions regarding the issuance of a Mining Licence for the Wigu Hill rare earth project.
Actually, Montero Mining, the seller of the Wigu Hill exploration rights to Vital, if there are any, is in arbitration with Tanzania’s government for the loss of the exploration license. Tanzania apparently does not want penniless explorers to squat on the nation’s resources anymore.
Then Vitals quarterly also contains some interesting entries on Kipawa/Zeus, the recent partial acquisition of the historical Matamec-Toyotsu joint venture:
Vital aims to build on the 2013 Definitive Feasibility Study completed for Kipawa to minimise capital and operating expenditure and reduce development timelines.
In other words, Vital don’t want to toss millions out of the window in order to re-invent the wheel.
But the real hang-up of Kipawa is and has always been, that the First Nation there has never agreed to mining. Hence this entry in the quarterly regarding Kipawa/Zeus:
The terms of the acquisition were amended to extend the due diligence period to 30 September 2022. This extension will enable Vital to undertake more extensive engagement with local communities to help inform the details of its plan for development of the Project.
The Kebaowek First Nation people are visibly not very impressed:
China’s production of rare earth downstream products in Q1 2022:
Because of the Q2 lockdown, these growth numbers may tank.
• EV NdPr demand to grow 20x by 2030 to >64ktpa
• NdPr almost perfectly inelastic; -0.7% BEV on sales after doubling price
• Average European BEV & Hybrid units use 1.34kg & 0.37kg Nd, respectively
• REE market a Chinese monopoly, dominating processing, refining, PMMs
• Hybrids/PHEVs, not BEVs, will dominate future EV sales
• Forecast higher NdPr pricing into the near future
A follow-up of Gaius King’s fabulous presentation at the REIA event last year, showing with logic and precision that there is no raw material base for the high flying plans of politicians for EV and renewable energy.
China’s auto sales fell 48.1 per cent year on year in April, and property sales at China’s top 100 developers were down 58.6 per cent year on year. It is apparent that domestic demand has crashed as Covid-19 lockdowns spread. As more areas get shut down, the May figures could be considerably worse.
Passenger vehicle sales tumbled 35.7% last month from a year ago to 1.06 million units, the biggest decline since March 2020 as the pandemic kicked in and the lowest monthly total since February of that year, China Passenger Car Association data released Tuesday showed.
Tesla Inc. was among the hardest hit, shipping just 1,512 vehicles from its Shanghai plant, which was closed for three weeks in April before resuming at reduced capacity.
Of the Tesla cars shipped from its China factory, none were exported.
Interesting, the diversity of numbers.
Tesla Inc has halted most of its production at its Shanghai plant due to problems securing parts for its electric vehicles, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters, the latest in a series of difficulties for the factory.
The automaker's sales in China had already slumped by 98% in April from a month earlier, data released by the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) showed on Tuesday, underscoring the hit from China's hard COVID-19 lockdowns.
After reopening, the factory produced 10,757 vehicles by the end of April, selling 1,512 of them, the CPCA said.
That compared to 65,814 cars sold in March and marked the lowest sales tally since April 2020, four months after the factory started delivering China-made cars.
Another auto association estimated last week that overall auto sales in China had dropped 48% in April as lockdowns shut factories, limited traffic to showrooms and put the brakes on spending.
More diversity of numbers.
Meanwhile, in the US of A:
Georgia is poised to announce Friday its second electric vehicle plant, a massive assembly complex by South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group, that could bring 8,500 jobs to Bryan County, people familiar with the matter have told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It comes on the heels of an announcement in December that EV upstart Rivian will build a $5 billion factory east of Atlanta, where the company has promised to hire 7,500.
Tesla proved the concept, now the gold rush is on.
Electric vehicles make up about 3% of all vehicles sold in the U.S. They are expected to increase exponentially amid tightening emissions and fuel economy standards, and as the cost of electric vehicles becomes competitive with conventional gas-powered models.
Hyundai signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Arafura.
We have a vacancy for a highly motivated PhD candidate to join the Mineral Production and HSE group within the Department of Geoscience and Petroleum (IGP). The selected candidate will be engaged in an EIT Raw Materials founded project titled “RareGreen - Sustainable processing methods for rare earth elements” which aims towards sustainable processing methods for rare earth elements.
A perspective for Norway’s Fen rare earth deposit (~900,000 t TREO)?
No matter how sustainable the process, the undesirable tailings incl. Thorium will remain.
When will the EU finally offer a solution for that? For the nuclear power industry solutions have been created. Why not for rare earths?
The team strategically designed, synthesized and characterized five variants of lanmodulin (LanM) to decipher and eventually improve its actinide-binding properties. Surprisingly, they found that the presence of water molecules that bridge the metal and protein molecule is particularly important for controlling the stability and metal preferences of the metal-protein complexes. This design principle allowed the scientists to improve the protein's ability to discriminate between actinide and lanthanide elements.
Molecules that are selective for actinides over lanthanides are among the most coveted because these two families of elements are found in nuclear waste and separating them would allow for a more efficient management of radioactive materials. The team's discovery could lead to drastically new separation systems for applications in nuclear waste and radiochemistry fields. LanM was discovered by the Penn State members of the team in 2018, and the LLNL-Penn State collaboration has been exploring applications of this peerless natural molecule in the field of nuclear sciences.
A $150,000 grant from the Department of Energy allows the team to study and extract rare earth elements from phosphate byproducts taken from the nearby Mosaic Company.
So many attempts have been made already….
Researchers are hoping to receive a second $4 million grant, to support Phase two of the project, to build a demonstration plant.
…and so many pilots, too.
As ever, when the economy turns down in China, officials are required to crack their heads for ideas, how to encourage more foreign investment. Therefore, this move of the Chinese government does not really come as a complete surprise
But this one does raise an eyebrow, because it specifically includes teasers for rare earth:
China to encourage foreign investment in more industries (incl. rare earths)
The new list will add 238 more items, while up to 114 existing ones will be modified with expansion, said a notice issued by China's National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).
The increase is particularly relevant to items related to manufacturing, producer services, and those in the central and western regions, said the notice.
These are the definitions of regions in China:
Central region would mean Henan, Hubei and Hunan provinces.
Western region should refer to Chongqing City, Guizhou, Sichuan, Yunnan provinces and Tibet Autonomous Region, as well as Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia provinces and Xinjiang Autonomous Region.
The relevant, rather long list from the China National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC) mentions among many other projects:
Using tungsten, nickel, cobalt, tantalum, niobium and other rare metal resources for deep processing and application products
production and recycling;
Deep processing of rare metal materials such as tantalum and niobium;
Production of organic polymer materials: aircraft skin coatings, rare earth cerium sulfide red dyes;
Processing of rare earth high-end application products that meet the requirements of new rare earth materials;
Bingo. NDRC are looking for additional input regarding application know-how, while basic rare earth mining and production remains on the “Special Management Measures for Foreign Investment Access (Negative List) (2020 Version).”
Lots of battery materials and rare earth potential, however, be aware that more often than not your principal customers and suppliers would be state-owned enterprises, who are notorious for making it difficult or even impossible for foreign invested enterprises, if they don’t flat-out reject all and any foreign invested company approaches.
Local or provincial CCP officials and bureaucrats will not be able to help, as they are bound by the edged-in-stone Decision of the 3rd Plenum of the 18th Central Committee, essentially to always give preference to state-owned enterprise. Do not accept assurances to the contrary, this one truly is edged in stone.
On this occasion let us remind you, that China trade is non-reciprocal in rare earths, and here comes what in rare earth is prohibited to take from China, and what is restricted:
The publication contains two lists, one prohibited technologies and one controlled technologies (subject to permits). There is another list which refers to dual-use products as per international agreements.
For the record, the rare earth related contents date back to the first list of 2001, 21 years ago.
Extracts read as follows:
Non-ferrous metal smelting and rolling processing industry
Technical name: Non-ferrous metal metallurgy technology
Control points: ion adsorption type rare earth heap leaching extraction technology and formula
Technical name: Rare earth refining, processing and utilization technology
1. Full extraction and continuous separation of rare earth elements and "multi-exit" process and parameters of rare earth extraction
2. Synthesis process of rare earth extractant
3. Process technology for extracting single rare earth (purity ≥99%)
4. Rare Earth Addition Technology of Metal Materials
5. Production technology of rare earth alloy materials and their products
6. Process and parameters for extracting rare earth elements from ionic rare earth ores
(theoretically permissible upon export permit review)
Technical name: heat treatment technology
Control points: 1. Mold heat treatment technology
(1) Formula of rare earth-boron co-penetrating agent
(2) Rare earth-boron co-infiltration treatment process
2. The formula and process of rare earth, carbon, nitriding and rare earth, carburising
Technical name: aviation material production technology
1. Preparation technology of rare earth-containing aluminum-lithium alloy
(1) The type and content of rare earth elements contained and the addition of rare earth elements
There has been an update of the list in 2020 (containing only the updates, so one has to refer back and through to the original document to figure things out), however, none of the aforementioned was changed.
One could argue, that much of the contents of what is prohibited and restricted is already out in the public domain, as scientific publications, patents, blogs, and Chinese wikis - or already carried abroad by those China companies, who are more equal than others.
As we wrote before, this 21-year old list may have been one of the reasons, why the Chinese rare earth processing projects in Laos failed and that is also, why Chinese stakeholders won’t legally assist foreign junior miners in all-the-way extraction of rare earth elements.
And one more China: Creating hype and FUD in order to drive prices up will soon be illegal in China.
Notice of the State Administration for Market Regulation on Publicly Soliciting Opinions on the "Guiding Opinions on Investigating and Punishing Illegal Behaviours of Price Gouging (Draft for Comment)"
At present, affected by the international situation and the epidemic, there are abnormal price fluctuations in some fields. In order to maintain the basic stability of market prices and strengthen and standardize the law enforcement of market supervision departments at all levels, we hereby propose how to apply the "Price Law of the People's Republic of China", "Regulations on Administrative Penalties for Price Violations" and other laws and regulations when market supervision departments investigate and deal with illegal acts of price gouging
The following guidance:
(A) Illegal act of price gouging
(1) If a business operator has one of the following circumstances, which promotes or is likely to promote the rapid or excessive rise of commodity prices, the market supervision department may determine that it constitutes an illegal price drive as prescribed in Article 6, Item 1 of the "Administrative Penalties for Price Violations". Behaviour:
1. Fabricating or disseminating information on production and purchase costs;
2. Fabricating or spreading information about shortage of supply or surge in market demand;
3. Fabricating or disseminating information that other business operators have raised or are preparing to raise prices;
4. Spreading fabricated price increase information;
5. Although the disseminated information is not fabricated information, it uses urgent or inductive terms such as "serious shortage", "will raise prices in an all-round way", and "price increase tide" to push up price expectations;
6. Spreading information to induce other operators to raise prices;
7 . Fabricating or disseminating other information that may push up commodity price expectations.
(2) Where an operator falls under any of the following circumstances, the market supervision department may determine that it constitutes an illegal act of price gouging as specified in Item 2, Article 6 of the Provisions on Administrative Penalties for Violating Price Violations:
1. Operators in the production process, without justifiable reasons, do not sell the produced products in a timely manner, beyond the normal storage quantity or storage period, and continue to hoard after being warned by the market supervision department;
2. Operators in the production process, in addition to production and self-use, exceeding the normal storage quantity or storage period, hoarding a large number of raw materials with tight market supply and abnormal price fluctuations, and continuing to hoard after being warned by the market supervision department;
3. Circulation operators who fail to sell goods in a timely manner without justifiable reasons, exceed the normal storage quantity or storage period, and continue to hoard after being warned by the market supervision department.
If the operator is in the circumstances specified in the preceding paragraph, but it can be proved that its behaviour is in accordance with the requirements of the government or relevant government departments to reserve or allocate materials, it does not constitute an illegal act of price gouging.
This goes on and on, but you get the sequence. We wonder, where one draws the line. We wonder, how market information services will operate in China in future, if this is signed into law.
Chinese rare earth market reports are already sleeping-aids, tiptoeing the censored official line.
A story of decades of corruption in Tamil Nadu State, India:
THOOTHUKUDI: After two decades, the Ministry of Mines (MoM) had provided approval for the IREL (India) to carry out beach sand mining and extract heavy minerals at an area of 1,144.06 hectare in eight villages of Kanniyakumari district. According to a gazette notification dated June 11, 2021, the MoM had reserved 1,144.06 hectares for mining beach sand minerals through IREL(India) following consultation with the Tamil Nadu government.
IREL, a Central public sector undertaking functioning under the Department of Atomic Energy at Manavalakurichi village near Colachel in Kanniyakumari is the only mineral manufacturing unit functioning in the state. The mining leases procured by at least 12 private mining barons were prematurely terminated through an order promulgated on March 1, 2019, based on an amendment to the Atomic Minerals Concession Rules (AMCR), 2016, on February 20, 2019, following plethora of complaints about large scale illegal mining.
The MoM amended the AMCR, 2016, such as to grant the mining leases only to a government company or corporation owned by the government, where the threshold value of monazite in beach sand is above 0.00 %, thereby by stopping private players from mining beach sand minerals except for IREL (India).
The IREL (India), formerly known as the Indian Rare Earths Limited, currently holds beach sand mining lease for an area of 178.06 hectare including 29.78 hectare in Midalam and Keezhmidalam,148.27 hectare in Manavalakurichi of Kanyakumari district. Lastly, the IREL executed a lease deed on May 25, 2001 for extracting ilmenite, zircon, rutile, monazite and sillimanite. Its mineral separation unit was not able to be operated to its installed capacity due to lack of raw materials, which caused a financial loss towards remitting salaries of employees for the last 20 years. Its employee strength had reduced gradually with only an odd 300 persons working now.
This could mean, that IREL may finally be able, after more than a decade, to live up to quantity commitments made to Toyotsu India’s separation facility, which in turn means higher turnout of separated light rare earths from Toyotsu.
If you don’t know Toyotsu and their story, click here for our write-up August last year.
Given the somewhat stagnant Japan demand, a bit of a rare earth oxide sourcing opportunity for others, perhaps.
Minister of Transport and Mining Audley Shaw is cautioning that, although if properly managed this south-central parish has in excess of 15 years of bauxite mining remaining, there needs to be focus on life after the industry.
Minister Shaw said the extraction of rare earth minerals is fundamental to assessing the way forward.
Energy and metallurgy minister Ramiro Villavicencio Niño de Guzmán told an event that a supreme decree was approved to allow the ministry to deal with prospecting, exploration, smelting, refining and commercialization of minerals, including non-traditional ones like indium, germanium, cobalt, nickel, uranium, and particularly rare earths, especially in Oruro and Potosí. These commodities “need to be prioritized by state policies,” Villavicencio said.
Unbelievable, but seemingly true.
This is the location of the Myanmar/China border city of Ruili, one of the thoroughfares for rare earths from Myanmar to China:
This is the chart of lockdowns of the city since the start of COVID-19:
A city-wide PCR test on April 13, 2021 covered 380,000 people. The last city-wide PCR test on April 18, 2022 covered 190,000 people.
This may suggest, that half the population left the city during the one year in-between.
China Northern: According to the Baotou epidemic task force, life and work in Baotou has returned to normal. However, we understand there are severe restriction on traffic in and out of Baotou.
China Rare Earth Group, Ganzhou, also “normal”.
However, transport / trucking is an issue, we understand. Commonly, entering a different city than where one lives means 2 weeks of quarantine in a centralised facility and 1 week of home isolation.
Truckers are exempt from that, but there are lots of conditions.
Japan’s Sankei Shimbun:
The Japanese and US governments have begun coordinating to establish a new international framework, "Mineral Resource Security Partnership," for the stable supply of important minerals such as rare earths in June. The aim is to review the supply chain, which relies on China to procure important resources, and reduce economic security risks. It is expected to be discussed at the Japan-US summit meeting on the 23rd of this month. A government official revealed on the 17th.
Important minerals are positioned as "strategic supplies" that are indispensable for advanced technologies such as the manufacture of smartphones, home appliances, and next-generation automobiles.
However, mines are unevenly distributed all over the world, and the output is small, and it takes a huge amount of money and a period of more than 10 years to be able to produce, so if the supply becomes unstable, it could hit industry and life directly.
Hazardous substances are discharged during the mining process, and environmental pollution and worker health damage associated with mining and smelting are becoming more serious.
For this reason, we will build an international network led by Japan and the United States, and comprehensively promote investment in mine development, environmental measures, research and development of recycling technology, etc. to secure a new supply source of mineral resources.
Comrade countries are also invited to participate, and more than 10 countries including Australia, Canada, and Asian countries are expected to participate.
Sankei pointedly uses the term 同志 ‘comrade’ to tease China, well knowing, that every single line written about China is scrutinised in Beijing on a daily base, this remote corner of the internet included.
Meanwhile, in Canada:
The demand for critical minerals is increasing worldwide and strengthening our domestic mining processing expertise can help Canada become the global supplier of choice for clean and advanced modernization.
That’s why, today during National Mining Week, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, announced a call for proposals for the Critical Minerals Research, Development and Demonstration Program (CMRDD). This component of the program will provide $10.95 million in funding for pilot plants and projects to support the development of critical mineral value chains. This funding is part of the $47.7M initiative announced in Budget 2021 for federal research and development to advance critical battery mineral processing and refining expertise.
The CMRDD Program will accept and fund applications that demonstrate the ability to reduce energy and carbon intensity, improve the environmental footprint of critical mineral processing, increase operational productivity and operational health and safety, and provide technological and innovative advancements in the process design of raw materials. Pilot plants will focus on advancing the maturity of the technology based on a defined scale of readiness levels.
The relatively young government came to power in April 2021 promising pro-environmental policies: it has pledged to join the Paris climate agreement and has banned new licences for oil and gas drilling.
In Narsaq, the Australian-based Greenland Minerals pitched the Kvanefjeld mine as a source of local opportunity. The pitch failed to impress many, including farmers such as Egede, and Naasu Lund, who lives with her husband and two children on a sheep farm in Inneruulalik, near Narsaq. Lund was part of the anti-mine group Urani? Naamik (Uranium? No).
Farmers thought they would be forced to move from farms that had been in their families for generations, says Lund, who also runs horse riding tours from her hydropowered farm. The biggest concern was the tailings pond holding the mining waste, she says, which would remain there for ever. People feared it could spill in Greenland’s fierce weather, reaching the fjord in minutes.
Herein lies the problem, says Lill Rastad Bjørst, associate professor at Aalborg University – there is a lot of talk but “close to nothing is happening”. Greenland currently has only two mines, one producing rubies and another anorthosite. Despite claims about how Greenlanders benefit from mining, “at the moment, there might be people who benefit from this development, but it’s not the people living in Greenland”, Bjørst says.
Not-in-my-backyard (NIMB) attitudes prevent rare earth mining in the industrialised nations, exactly those with the projected maximum increase of rare earths consumption.
Greenland responds to Greenland Minerals request for arbitration
In April, 2021, a new government was elected in Greenland on the promise to stop the Kvanefjeld project of Greenland Minerals (GGG). This was followed by a stormy, gloves-off annual general meeting of GGG on May 26, 2021 and enactment of a Greenland law to prevent the Kvanefjeld project from proceeding on November 10, 2021.
On March 22, 2022 GGG filed a request for arbitration with the Danish and the Greenland governments.
To put it simple, GGG claim that according to the letter of the law that forbids uranium mining in Greenland, GGG’s exploration license should be treated as a pre-existing license and thereby should remain valid. On top of that GGG argue, that because of the long-term exploration effort in Greenland, GGG should actually be entitled to a full mining license, upon denial of which GGG would claim the full project value from both governments. That should be in the ballpark of US$90 mio according to GGG’s 2021 annual report, plus whatever damages and juicy legal fees.
GGG say they feel compelled to do this, in order to protect shareholder value.
Greenland Minerals’ exploration license expires end of 2022.
A bit of history
If Greenland Minerals’ fate is to turn into a an arbitration zombie like Stans Energy did, then, whatever award may come Stans way will all go to the lawyers, nothing to shareholders and a token for Stans’ books before delisting.
The claimant in this case here is GGG’s operating company, Greenland Minerals A/S, which GGG owns 39% directly and 61% indirectly through Chahood Capital Limited, a company that Greenland Minerals own 100%, according to its annual report.
Historical reasons for that strange arrangement: Sydney Morning Herald wrote about GGG At last, a face to the many names on September 24, 2009 and about the original Chahood Capital Ltd in Greenland shareholder digs hole for itself on March 2, 2010.
On May 6, 2022 the Greenland government responded, essentially saying that they are looking at the claim and they would make a decision within 6 months.
GGG’s share price reacted with a slight uptick:
Among the top shareholders of GGG are China’s Shenghe Resources with 9.3%, a company that describes itself as a state-owned holding company, in spite of a part of its shares being listed on the Shanghai stock exchange.
The concept of Greenland Minerals is to produce a rare earth concentrate and sell it to Shenghe Resources, who then take the material to China where all the added value will occur, along the very same single-customer concept as MP Materials.
In order to be able to import Greenland Minerals rare earth concentrate to China, Shenghe Resource set up a joint venture with China Nuclear Energy Corp for import of radioactive materials.
GGG can’t deny, that in the past 14 years this is not the first Greenland government opposed to mining of anything that involves radioactive materials. One could argue, that GGG on behalf of shareholders accepted the potential denial of a license as a substantial risk all along.
While this is a risk that all junior miners face everywhere, in case of Greenland it was particularly evident.
On the other hand, likewise, the Greenland administration looked at the good, hard and meticulous work that went into the project with - what one could call - tacit approval.
The whole case is basically political
In the current political environment, as long as Greenland Minerals have no better concept to offer than to ship the entire value to a single customer in China while retaining the radioactive waste and other environmental detriment in Greenland, political goodwill will be very hard to generate.
Greenland Minerals chairman for 12 years, Anthony Peng Ho, was recently demoted to director until his final exit, similar as had happened to him at Hastings before, whose director and chairman he was concurrently with his Greenland Minerals chairmanship.
Possibly, because Greenland and Hastings had an identical substantial holder for a while during the period in question.
By way of a valued reader and friendly contributor:
Initially, apatite concentrate will be extracted in Kiruna and Gällivare/Malmberget. The concentrate will then be hauled by rail to the industrial park in Luleå, where it will be dissolved and processed to separate the products phosphorus, rare earth elements and fluorine, as well as gypsum as a by-product.
LKAB can be a significant producer of critical raw materials that are circular and climate-efficient, from a controlled European source:
Phosphorus corresponding to 5 times Sweden's demand – 400,000 tonnes apatite concentrate (which is upgraded to phosphoric acid and MAP/DAP mineral fertiliser products)
Rare Earth Elements, REE, corresponding to 30% of today's imports of REE into the EU – 2000 tonnes
Fluorine products for, e.g., the chemicals industry and medical applications – 16,000 tonnes
Gypsum corresponding to Sweden's entire current demand – 650,000 tonnes
LKAB is a Swedish state-owned company with one of the largest iron ore mines on the planet, Kiruna.
We dubbed it a “mini Bayan Obo”, as, similar to Bayan Obo, also Kiruna’s iron ore mining tailings contain valuable products such as niobium and rare earths.
Nonetheless, LKAB will have to undergo the painful permission processes.
Phosphogypsum tends to be more a problem, than a solution: See Mosaic, Lynas, Itafos, Yara, while Rainbow bet on it as a rare earth resource, based on a new process from K-Tech.
Neo's first quarter sales were $166 million, net income was $23 million or $0.54 per diluted share, and we delivered adjusted EBITDA of $33.1 million. All three of these metrics represent records for quarterly performance since we reemerged as a public company in 2017. Our EBITDA growth is nearly 50% over the prior year period.
Neo shares gained 20% on the announcement:
On China’s lockdown:
Last week, the preventive endemic measures in parts of China caught up to us and our high purity heavy rare earth operations facility in Jiangyin is currently subject to a citywide lockdown. This is the first direct interruption at one of our manufacturing sites and follows on from spillover cases in other larger cities in Jiangsu Province and further from the cases in Shanghai last month. None of our employees at the site have currently tested positive for the virus.
After a lockdown for 12 days the factory in Jiangyin is operating again. Where it is located:
If or not you test positive for COVID-19 actually does not matter in China
Authorities are given numerical targets. In order to meet the quota, people are ferried off to concentration camps for quarantine, regardless of their infection status.
According to this article in the German publication Die Zeit, at Neo’s factory location in Jiangyin the Communist Party sent a memo around:
Every day the police must find five typical cases of violation of the pandemic control rules and make corresponding arrests. Kill a chicken to scare the monkey. There must be criminal cases, including people with yellow health codes violating quarantine regulations. Such cases must be widely reported in order to completely silence society...
To Legal: Please find out on what basis such penalties for pandemic control rule violations are possible, especially in criminal law.
This type of instruction is not new, it is part of Chinese politicians’ toolbox. It is consistent with the general treatment of any dissent in China.
Australian Strategic Materials Limited (ASX: ASM, the Company) is pleased to advise that KCF Energy Co. Ltd (KCF), a company registered in Seoul, Korea, and owned by the Korean Consortium1 has agreed to invest USD 15 million of equity funding in ASM by subscribing for ordinary shares at an issue price of AUD 8.90 per share2 (KCF Equity Investment).
Very generous, considering ASM’s current share price.
Concurrently with the KCF Equity Investment, the parties have agreed to revise the Framework Agreement3 (Revised Framework Agreement). Under the Revised Framework Agreement, the parties have agreed to negotiate on a non-exclusive basis for investments in ASM, Australian Strategic Materials (Holdings) Ltd (ASMH), KSM Metals Co, Ltd (KSMM), and for a 2,800 5-year offtake agreement for the supply of NdFeB alloy.
Does anyone at ASM ever read stuff, before posting it to everyone & sundry?
2,800 what? Kilograms? Apples? Gummi bears? Per month? Per year?
The a.m. off-take regards the metal factory in Korea, which sources it’s raw material in China.
Strictly speaking, the Koreans need ASM as much as they need a third shoulder, if ASM don’t start coughing up Made in Australia rare earth oxides. And that brings us straight to ASM’s Dubbo Zirconia Project:
What is happening to ASM’s Dubbo project?
Can ASM get around the 1986 NSW uranium mining ban or not?
ASM did not respond to our query before, and they are unlikely to respond in future, because - in our opinion - this is the Achilles Heel of ASM.
Altona, a mining exploration company focused on the evaluation, acquisition and development of rare earth elements (REE) mining projects in Africa, has confirmed its intention to apply for admission of its ordinary shares to the Standard Segment of the Official List and to trading on the London Stock Exchange’s (LSE) Main Market for listed securities (admission).
Altona acquired its first rare earths project in July 2021 – Monte Muambe in Mozambique.
Phase 1 exploration drilling programme completed in November 2021.
Assay results show multiple intercepts over 2.5% total rare earth oxides (TREO) with the highest recorded at 7.24% TREO.
REE carbonatite projects considered viable for BFS over 1% TREO.
Monte Muambe a potentially significant light rare earths asset.
E-Tech Resources Inc., (TSXV: REE), announces that Daniel Whittaker has been appointed as the Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer on an interim basis, effective immediately. Mr. Whittaker replaces Berend Gert-Jan Loois as the Corporation’s CEO, and as a director and officer of its subsidiaries.
Mr. Whittaker will retain his role as a director and Board Chair of the Corporation. Mr. Whittaker is the current CEO of Antler Gold Inc. and has held senior positions in the mineral industry for the last 25 years. He is a founder of GoGold Resources Inc., a mineral exploration, development and production company, and held senior management positions with GoGold from January 2008 to January 2016 and also served as a director of GoGold from inception to January 2013. He founded Ucore Rare Metals Inc. in 2006 and served as an officer and director to March 2008.
And yet another gold miner trying his luck in rare earth….
Meeka Gold Limited (ASX:MEK) (“Meeka” or “the Company”) is pleased to report results from 85 holes drilled within the western block of the Cascade REE Project (MEK 100%). Assay results show shallow, high-grade mineralisation, up to 29m thick, within the saprolitic clays. The broad mineralisation is pervasive across the western block with 52 of the 85 drill holes returning high-grade mineralisation.
4,029 ppm = 0.4029%. Don’t hold your breath.
The gold price is around US$60,000/kg, and therefore generally gold miners don’t understand what the commercials look like, if you deal with 14 metals valued at a fraction of the gold value.
…and another one:
The First Development Resources' geological team said that underlying geology within the Selta Project is comparable to the Nolans Bore deposit.
Power Metal said "the Nolans Bore REE-phosphate-uranium-thorium deposit is one of the largest of its kind globally with a JORC compliant Mineral Resource of 56 million tonnes at an average grade of 2.6% total rare-earth oxides and 11% phosphate."
An explorer, Jack of all Trades:
….while junior rare earth miners diversify.
Leading Edge Materials Corp. is pleased to report the signing of the Bihor Sud Exploration License (the “License”) between the Company’s 51% owned local joint-venture subsidiary LEM Romania SRL (“LEMR”), and the National Agency for Mineral Resources (“NAMR”). The exclusive license was awarded to the Company after having been selected as the winning bid in a competitive tender round and has now been published in the official gazette of Romania.
The License perimeter covers a 25 square kilometer area (the “Project”) in the Northern Apuseni Mountains of Transylvania. The Apuseni Mountains are located in the northern extension of the Western Tethyan Metallogenic Belt, one of the world’s more prominent orogenic belts that hosts numerous significant past producing mines and newly discovered mineral deposits. LEMR applied for the License with the goal to expand on indications of high-grade cobalt, nickel and polymetallic mineralization collected in the framework of its earlier prospecting license covering the same area.
Energy Fuels Announces Q1-2022 Results, Including Continued Robust Balance Sheet, Market-Leading U.S. Uranium Position & Rare Earth Production
At March 31, 2022 , the Company had a robust balance sheet with $136.6 million of working capital, including $105.8 million of cash and marketable securities, $29.7 million of inventory, and no short term (or long term) debt. At current commodity prices, the Company's product inventory has a value of $50.3 million .
The Company produced approximately 60 metric tonnes of mixed rare earth element (" REE ") carbonate (" RE Carbonate "), containing 30 metric tonnes of total rare earth oxides (" TREO ") during Q1-2022. Energy Fuels' RE Carbonate, which is roughly 32% - 34% NdPr, is the most advanced REE material being produced in the U.S. today.
The Company is currently in active discussions with several sources of natural monazite sands around the world to significantly increase the supply of feed for its growing REE initiative.
During Q1-2022, the Company began partial commercial separation of Lanthanum (La) on a small scale from its RE Carbonate, using an existing solvent extraction circuit at its White Mesa Mill (the " Mill "). This represents the first commercial level REE separation to occur in the U.S. in many years.
The Company is planning to install a full separation circuit at the Mill to produce both "light" and "heavy" separated REE oxides in the coming years, subject to successful licensing, financing, and commissioning, and continued strong market conditions. The Company has hired Carester SAS (" Carester "), a global leader in producing separated REE oxides, to support these REE separation initiatives.
Clearly there is momentum.
Will they be able to source enough monazite while competing with Chinese buyers for raw material?
And, most importantly: Will Energy Fuels return to being profitable?
Since the beginning of the current fiscal year (June 1, 2021), the Corporation has raised over $1,234,509 through the exercise of various financial instruments (warrants, broker warrants and options) resulting in the issuance of a combined total of 7,047,763 common shares. All warrants expiring in May 2022 and priced at $0.15 have been exercised. Geomega now has over $5.1M in cash and cash equivalents on hand and an available Debt Facility from Investissement Quebec in the amount of $3.046M for the equipment and construction of the rare earths recycling demonstration plant in Saint-Brunode-Montarville, Quebec.
Steady progress, getting somewhere.
SHL has all the regulatory approvals required to commence mining and to produce monazite concentrate. Management is also discussing and negotiating offtake agreements with numerous prospective customers. SHL plans to raise equity funding through a pre-IPO and IPO on the London AIM market and a secondary listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange,” explained Trevor Blench, SHL chairman.
Steenkampskraal is a “hot” historical thorium mine, good for ca. 80,000 t of TREO. According to the company, relevant permits and disposal plans are in place. TREO is said to be around 14%, excluding Th and U, which stands out indeed:
NioCorp’s Elk Creek Project Confirmed as the Second Largest Indicated-Or-Better Rare Earth Resource in the U.S.
A new technical report on the Elk Creek Project summarizing the results of the 2022 Feasibility Study will be prepared by Dahrouge Geological Consulting Ltd. and Optimize Group Inc. in accordance with NI 43-101. The technical report will include details regarding the updated Mineral Resource and Mineral Reserve estimates presented herein, which are derived from the 2022 Feasibility Study, and will be filed on SEDAR (www.sedar.com) within 45 days of this news release.
According to the 2022 Feasibility Study, the Elk Creek Indicated Mineral Resource includes the following tonnages of contained metals, using a ≥US$180/tonne NSR cut-off that was calculated using solely the contained niobium, scandium, and titanium in the Mineral Resource:
632.9 kt of TREO, including these individual rare earth oxides:
26.9 kt of praseodymium
98.9 kt of neodymium
2.3 kt of terbium
9.1 kt of dysprosium
970.3 kt of niobium oxide
11,337 tonnes (“t”) of scandium oxide [Typical junior miner spin to change the unit of measurement within chart. For clarity, it is 11.337 kt]
4,221 kt of titanium oxide
In order to update the Project's Mineral Resource to include REE data, the Company and its consultants were required to complete additional assays of historical drill core to fill data gaps in the existing resource database and re-model the Mineral Resource. The mine plan and Mineral Reserve were also updated, independent of the REE data collection and REE by-product Mineral Resource.
Always remember, the entire scandium oxide world market according to USGS is 15-25 t per year. Over time it may grow to 100 t per year.
Consequently, it does not really help if NioCorp pile 100 t/year on to the pre-existing market.
From the NI43-101 of April 16, 2019:
“LnO” refers to “lanthanide oxides”, i.e. all rare earth oxides.
Before getting all excited and running around like chicken without a head, like apparently some investors did on the news, lets rather wait for the NI43-101 in latest 45 days. We’re on it.
Yes, prices bounced back a bit.
But magnet material prices are far away from the price peak, when China’s government intervened in pricing beginning of March and the rare earth companies found the way how to match the expectations:
However, year to date looks not as bad, if one considers the 5% - 5.8% devaluation of the RMB vs the US-dollar:
Year on year prices still look fantastic:
As ever, these are ex works China prices incl. 13% VAT for the most common qualities of rare earth oxides/metals and their raw materials, converted at the official onshore RMB/USD exchange rate. Actual offer prices will differ.
Rare earth stocks also bounced!
Have a wonderful week ahead!