Canada Rare Earth Corp. ("Canada Rare Earth" or the "Company") is pleased to provide an update on significant progress towards the permitting of the completed, full capability rare earth separation refinery located in Vientiane, Lao PDR (the "Refinery") described in our news releases of May 9, 2016 and November 9, 2016.
On January 27th, our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer conducted the 1st rare earth seminar ever held for the Lao PDR ("Lao") government. The working session was sponsored by the Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines and was attended by senior representatives from all Lao government ministries and departments associated with the rare earth industry including those involved with the approval process leading to the issuance of the final operating permit and then monitoring ongoing operations of the Lao Refinery.
This working session was, in part, a result of visits to Lao by the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland and the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Stephane Dion who discussed the Refinery, among other topics, with Laotian government officials in September 2016.
The Canadian Ambassador, Donica Pottie, and other senior representatives of the Canadian Embassy responsible for the Lao People's Democratic Republic were also in attendance at the session, as was the independent environmental consultant who has studied the Refinery over a period of two years and performed the project's Environmental and Social Impact Assessment.
The seminar was part of Canada Rare Earth's collaboration with the Lao government for the development of the rare earth industry within their country. Participants engaged in a wide reaching and detailed discussion of the rare earth industry and the Refinery, in particular.
Importantly, the Company emphasized three key aspects of its permitting strategy:
- informing and providing insights to the Laotian government regarding rare earths and related processing;
- branding the Lao Refinery in a "Canadian manner" from environmental, social license and transparency perspectives; and
- emphasizing the use of pre-treated, enhanced concentrate for the Lao Refinery.
The three key aspects of our strategy were well received by the participants.
The session also specifically provided a detailed view of the Refinery, its production processes and its significant and unique advantage of being the most recently constructed refinery capable of producing both heavy and light rare earth oxides ("REOs") outside of China.
Other topics included an introduction to the global market for rare earths including rare earth applications; the technical and efficiency benefits derived from rare earths; global market demand and future growth; the various mineral sources of rare earths; the production process of rare earth oxides; and associated environmental protection measures.
A large part of the discussion focused on the recently introduced plan of using a pre-treated, enhanced, concentrate from which both thorium and uranium are removed at a different location. Peter Shearing, Canada Rare Earth COO said, "With the newly introduced plan of using a concentrate pre-treated to remove thorium and uranium the Refinery is generally similar to other chemical processing facilities in Lao which are fully permitted, operational and expanding. Therefore we believe there are no technical barriers to successful permitting." The use of enhanced concentrate addresses the most difficult issues confronting the Lao government.
Canada Rare Earth's CEO, Tracy A. Moore, explained, "the depth of the questioning and interaction at the seminar was very impressive and reinforced our confidence in the permitting process. We found the engagement was very encouraging and provided a very positive sign that attendees from the Lao government are enthusiastic to learn about rare earths and the significant economic benefits that the Refinery can bring to Lao."
The Refinery is based on the design of other successful operating facilities and is therefore capable of separating concentrate into the entire spectrum of commercially traded, light and heavy rare earth elements to high levels of purity. The Refinery is intended to become a core aspect in the Canada Rare Earth's vertical integration strategy and operations. Significant and sincere interest has been generated from prospective purchasers for the Refinery's products. Once operational the Refinery will produce approximately 2.5% of the global supply of rare earth oxides.
A follow-up session is being planned for March 2017 involving Canada Rare Earth, key members of the relevant Lao Ministries, including the Ministry of Energy and Mines, and the Canadian Embassy. Both Canada Rare Earth and current Refinery owner consider the rare earth working session a successful step in the permitting process and are presently revising the purchase agreement to fit with a revised schedule for receiving the final operating permit.
On behalf of the Board
Tracy A. Moore, CEO and Peter Shearing, COO