Rare Element Resources Ltd. is pleased to provide an update on the pilot scale test work which is demonstrating its proprietary rare earth separation technology in studies being conducted by Umwelt-und Ingenieurtechnik GmbH Dresden (“UIT”). UIT is an affiliate of Synchron, a significant shareholder in the Company and a General Atomics affiliated company.
Since February 2019, UIT has operated a hydrometallurgical pilot plant in Germany utilizing ore from the Company’s Bear Lodge Project in Wyoming. Using the Company’s enhanced proprietary technology, UIT operated the pilot plant designed to produce several products – a high-purity neodymium/praseodymium (Nd/Pr) oxide, lanthanum (La) oxide, and a mixed mid and heavy rare earth concentrate.
In December 2019, UIT successfully completed demonstration of separation of Nd/Pr from total rare earth oxide (TREO) concentrate to produce a solid Nd/Pr product. The proprietary process separates Nd/Pr from a thorium/cerium free process stream to create product that is, from a practical and regulatory perspective, radioactivity free. This process involves fewer steps in a closed cycle environmentally sound method which means it is expected to have lower operating and capital costs than current technologies. In addition, the purity of the separated Nd/Pr and other rare earth products can be tailored to meet customer requirements through a limited number of highly efficient solvent extraction cycles. The high-purity Nd/Pr product will be utilized in the production of high-strength permanent magnets used in defense applications, electric vehicles, wind turbines, and other products.
Over the last several months the U.S. Department of Defense has announced significant funding initiatives to advance the domestic production capability and capacity for rare earth production and separation as well as rare earth-containing permanent magnet production.
Randall J. Scott, President and CEO of RER, stated, “We are very encouraged by the pilot plant results using our proprietary technology to produce a thorium-free Nd/Pr oxide. This product is key to unlocking the supply chain for rare earth magnet production in the U.S. Our ability to produce this product is timely given the current interest and associated funding initiatives of U.S. governmental agencies. The Company recognizes the critical nature of the products produced from the Bear Lodge pilot plant and we will continue to work closely with those who can enhance our trajectory to full production.”
Additional testwork is planned for 2020 and will include the economic optimization of process steps, developing scale-up design criteria for a demonstration plant, and confirmation of operating and capital costs estimates.
Synchron and its affiliated General Atomics companies are a privately held group of companies engaged in advanced research, technology, products and systems for the energy and defense sectors.