COVID-19 underscores rare earth exposure
Ucore continues advancement of US REE supply chain strategy Metal Tech News Weekly Edition – April 1, 2020
Last updated 6/27/2020 at 5:42am
Ucore Rare Metals Inc. says the COVID-19 pandemic shines a spotlight on the need for a domestic supply of rare earth elements and other critical minerals and the company continues to make headway toward helping to fill that supply with its mine-to-metal-to-market "M3" strategy.
"The current crisis underscores the extremely vulnerable nature of critical materials supply chains in the U.S. globalization and single-source foreign dependencies are not mitigating this risk – they are enhancing it," said Ucore Rare Metals Chairman Pat Ryan. "Ucore's M3 Plan of Action responds to this, with a highly-attainable, globally competitive and nationally secure path to U.S. critical metals independence."
Introduced by Ucore last year, M3 includes three initiatives to break America's dependence on China for rare earths by establishing a domestic REE supply – advancing the company's Bokan-Dotson Ridge REE-critical minerals mine project in Alaska to shovel-ready status; developing an associated facility to separate the rare earths into individual metals; and developing and cultivating a market for these American mined and refined REEs.
The Dotson Ridge deposit at Bokan Mountain hosts 4.79 million metric tons of indicated resource containing 31,722 metric tons of total rare earth oxides – 14 lanthanide elements, yttrium and scandium – plus 1.05 metric tons of inferred resource with 6,979 metric tons of total rare earth oxides.
In addition to rare earths, Dotson Ridge hosts appreciable amounts of niobium, zirconium, beryllium, hafnium, titanium dioxide and vanadium – all considered critical to the economic wellbeing and security of the United States.
Under Ucore's M3 plan, these critical minerals mined from Dotson Ridge would be processed at its Strategic Metals Complex, a separation facility the company plans to develop near Ketchikan, a Southeast Alaska port town about 30 miles away.
More information on REE separations advancement related to the SMC can be read at Ucore eyes new SX rare earth separation in the Feb. 19 edition of Metal Tech News.
While COVID-19 protocols to protect the health of its employees, business associates and neighbors means working from home and an effective ban on corporate travel, Ucore says its team continues to conduct its day-to-day business affairs in pursuit of the M3 strategy.
If anything, the global health crisis has affirmed the company's long-held belief that a North American REE supply chain is necessary – a viewpoint that is shared by President Trump.
"The Trump Administration has been highly proactive in the use of executive powers to address both the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Critical Materials Crisis," said Ucore Rare Metals President and CEO Jim McKenzie. "While these crises are vastly different in their importance, both are serious situations requiring immediate intervention in the domestic supply-chains, and both have triggered presidential determinations based on the Defense Production Act."
More information on Trump's Defense Production Act determination regarding rare earths can be found at The enigmatic rare earth elements paradox in the Feb. 12 edition of Metal Tech News.