Drill Results Could Loosen Chinas Grip on High Demand Rare Earth Elements

Uncommon earth components are in excessive demand, and newly launched drilling ends in Canada might level to a approach to assist loosen China’s stranglehold on the sector.

Protection Metals Corp.’s (DEFN:TSX.V; DFMTF:OTCQB; 35D:FSE) newly launched drilling outcomes again up the corporate’s PEA (preliminary financial evaluation) that its 100%-owned Wicheeda Venture in British Columbia will assist it compete with China within the provide of uncommon earth components (REEs).

REEs are in excessive demand — they’re utilized in purifying water, diagnosing illnesses with MRIs, feeding extra individuals with higher fertilizers, weapons analysis, and in lowering emissions with wind generators and everlasting magnet motors for electrical autos.

“You could possibly say China has a stranglehold on REE, simply as they did with microchips.”

—Bob Moriarty, 321 Gold

Having most REEs sourced from China is a “ticking time bomb,” mentioned Bob Moriarty of 321Gold.

“You could possibly say China has a stranglehold on REE, simply as they did with microchips,” Moriarty mentioned. “If the governments of Canada and the U.S. don’t get their act collectively, the dearth of domestically sourced REE will destroy … EV manufacturing within the West. Motion must happen quickly.”

About 60% of the worldwide mine manufacturing of REEs is centered in China, which accounts for greater than 85% of the processing capability. China has additionally consolidated three of its state-owned uncommon earth firms into one: China Minmetals Uncommon Earth Co., in keeping with Forbes.

Protection Metals initiatives it’s going to produce 25,000 tonnes of uncommon earth oxides per 12 months at Wicheeda, or about 10% of the world’s present manufacturing.

Wicheeda’s sturdy 2021 PEA demonstrated an after-tax internet current worth ([email protected]%) of CA$517 million for the positioning. The venture’s 43-101 technical report exhibits a 5 million tonne indicated useful resource at 2.95% TREO and 29.5 million tonne inferred useful resource, averaging 1.83% TREO calculated from 4,000 meters of drilling. The PEA doesn’t embody outcomes from extra drilling accomplished in 2021.

Investments Wanted for Nationwide Safety


Even with environmental issues, the long run will depend on the West taking management of the useful resource, the corporate mentioned.

“We can not cease mining,” Protection Metals President and Director Luisa Moreno instructed Forbes final month. “Our lifestyle will depend on superior supplies — from the automobile we drive to the buildings that home us. We’d like these superior supplies. We have to educate the people who mining is now not irresponsible or compromised. Most firms are adopting environmental, social, and governance requirements. They’re working with environmentalists and engineers to make sure that the mining is cleaner and safer.” 

The U.S. authorities has taken discover of the imbalance of entry to the weather and introduced a $35 million Division of Protection grant being given to MP Supplies Corp. (MP:NYSE) to separate and course of REEs at its facility in Mountain Move, Calif. MP Supplies can be investing one other $700 million to create greater than 350 jobs within the everlasting magnet sector by 2024.

Investments are wanted within the sector not only for inexperienced applied sciences, however for nationwide safety, mentioned Lehigh College Affiliate Professor Zach Zacharia.

“It appears loopy when you consider it that some important chip for an F-35 is likely to be having to come back from another nation that doubtlessly may very well be an enemy,”  Zacharia instructed WFMZ in Allentown, Pa.

Moreno notes that, of the greater than 200 minerals identified to comprise REEs, solely a handful are at the moment identified to be economically viable from a processing standpoint. Two of these —monazite and bastnaesite — are notably wealthy in REE, and determine dominantly at Wicheeda.

“The PEA stories drilling outcomes that enormously enhance the dimensions of the deposit (at Wicheeda); and, higher nonetheless, the PEA confirms that Wicheeda’s coarse-crystalline rare-earth minerals (monazite, bastnaesite and parasite) could be cheaply processed,” Protection Metals Director Dr. William H. Chook mentioned in a current letter to traders.

Drill Outcomes Level to Potential


The corporate is now releasing outcomes from its 2021 drilling program which can be amplifying the potential of the positioning. Two infill holes from Protection Metals’ 5,300-meter Wicheeda program accomplished final fall intersected the highest-grade REE mineralization up to now on the website, with one gap returning 6.01% TREO (whole uncommon earth oxide) over 23.4 meters and vital widths of mineralization above the 0.5% TREO decrease cutoff.

A second gap yielded 3.19% TREO over 138 meters, together with 4.00% TREO over 55 meters, the corporate introduced.

“We proceed to be inspired by the outcomes of the 2021 useful resource growth and infill drilling marketing campaign,” Moreno mentioned. “The 2 holes reported (March 3) have returned the best grade REE intercept up to now at 6.01% TREO, whereas additionally confirming vital widths of doubtless financial grade REEs according to our geological and useful resource fashions.”

Outcomes from an preliminary 4 holes totaling 795 meters had been launched on March 2, and extra outcomes are anticipated quickly. The primary gap returned assays of three.17% TREO mineral assets over 196 meters, together with 4.29% TREO over 55 meters at depth increasing high-grade REE mineralization 32 meters past the present mineral useful resource pit shell.

The second gap intersected mineralized dolomite carbonatite to a depth of 117 meters downhole grading 2.97% TREO over 114 meters, the corporate mentioned. The final two holes established continuity of considerably REE-mineralized dolomite carbonatite at depth, together with 3.87% TREO over 120 meters in a single gap and a couple of.35% TREO over 172 meters within the different.

Protection Metals Has Edge in Processing


The corporate has an edge in processing at Wicheeda. The common grade of the ore on the website is 2.33% TREO.

“As a result of we now have coarse grained REE minerals with excessive REE steel content material, we will improve by means of direct floatation to about 40% TREO,” Moreno mentioned. “Different REE deposits of comparable grade are upgradable solely to 10% or 15% TREO. This provides us the benefit of having the ability to course of our ore at a lot decrease prices than others.”

Protection Metals additionally signed an MOU in August 2021 with Sinosteel, a number one Chinese language REE processor.

Byron King, who follows the REE sector intently (and is a Protection Metals shareholder) defined, “Whereas all of us acknowledge the significance of breaking freed from China’s dominance within the REE sector — each mining and processing — we even have to acknowledge that China is the place the experience lives. If you wish to be taught to bop, you might want to rent a dancing trainer. Sinosteel could be that trainer for Protection Metals.”

The technique of getting as far down into the upstream is important, King mentioned. “The top customers of those REEs have very particular necessities. Filling these wants begins on the mouth of the mine, however it’s essential to take the rock and switch it into the highest-value materials you will get.”

Wicheeda, positioned 80 kilometers from Prince George, British Columbia, advantages from ample infrastructure. Highways, logging roads, fuel and electrical strains facilitate operations. Close by air, rail, and seaport connections present transport choices.

“All of those elements are in our favor, in comparison with different REE initiatives in areas farther to the north, like Québec and the Northwest Territories,” Moreno mentioned.

Lastly, it’s in a pleasant mining jurisdiction, with a talented workforce at hand.

That workforce can be saved busy with a redoubling of drilling efforts, each in-field and expansionary, which Protection Metals has deliberate for 2022. The corporate additionally continues to launch outcomes from its 2021 drilling program that assist the positioning’s potential.

As of March 7, Protection Metals’ market cap is $54.6 million. It has 160.6 million shares excellent, or 199.6 million with warrants and choices, and 5% of the corporate is owned by administration and insiders.



1) Steve Sobek compiled this text for Streetwise Reviews LLC. He or members of his family personal securities of the next firms talked about within the article: None. He and members of his family are paid by the next firms talked about on this article: None.
2) Byron King’s disclosures: I, or members of my quick family or household, personal securities of the next firms talked about on this article: Protection Metals; shares had been bought on the open market. I personally am, or members of my quick family or household are, paid by the next firms talked about on this article: None. My firm has a monetary relationship with the next firms talked about on this article: None. I’m not providing private funding recommendation in any method, to anybody.
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