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Rare Element Resources Advances Proprietary Separation Technology as Market Seeks New Sources of Critical Rare Earths

by Rare Element Resources | Jun 13, 2019
Rare Element Resources is pleased to announce additional significant progress on the previously announced third-party pilot scale testwork relating to its proprietary rare earth separation technology.

June 13, 2019 – Littleton, Colorado – Rare Element Resources Ltd. (“RER” or the “Company”) (OTCQB: REEMF) is pleased to announce additional significant progress on the previously announced third-party pilot scale testwork relating to its proprietary rare earth separation technology.  This work is being conducted by Umwelt-und Ingenieurtechnik GmbH Dresden (“UIT”), an affiliate of Synchron, a significant shareholder of the Company. RER engaged UIT to conduct a pilot plant campaign in February 2019 to verify, at pilot plant scale, all process steps from the hydrometallurgical process already validated to the final separation of Nd/Pr oxide.  

UIT is currently operating a large-scale hydrometallurgical pilot plant in Germany. Preliminary results, using RER’s proprietary technology, indicate the successful extraction of Nd/Pr and other rare earth elements, contained in a high-purity rare earth oxide (REO). UIT will continue to operate the pilot plant to produce REO from ore obtained at the Company’s Bear Lodge Project in Wyoming. Once sufficient REO is produced, UIT will begin the separation test phase, scheduled for the third quarter of 2019. The separation pilot plant test will utilize the Company’s enhanced proprietary technology to produce several products- a high-purity neodymium/praseodymium (Nd/Pr) oxide, lanthanum (La) oxide, and a mixed mid-and heavy rare earth concentrate. The enhanced process, if successful, is expected to significantly reduce process steps and operating costs as well as further reduce environmental impacts and associated costs. 

The testwork is progressing at a time when sources of rare earths outside of China are considered critical as illustrated by the current trade issues between the United States and China. Reported Nd/Pr prices have risen more than 35% in the past few months due to the escalating trade restrictions.

Randall J. Scott, President and CEO of RER stated, “Worldwide recognition of the critical nature of rare earths, including the products that will be produced from the rare earth minerals at our Bear Lodge Project in Wyoming, continues to intensify. We now have significant additional third-party confirmation and optimization of our proprietary technology for the separation and production of market-ready Nd/Pr oxide. Bear Lodge is one of the highest-grade Nd/Pr rare earth resources in the world. Current market demand for non-Chinese sources of the key Nd/Pr product needed for permanent magnets, especially for defense systems, electric vehicles and electronics, makes the timing of the project even more important. Input from members of Congress and federal agencies have revealed a high level of interest in the Bear Lodge project, particularly due to our more sustainable technology and the inclusion of magnet elements in our ore.”  

Environmental baseline studies, updated in 2018, and the proprietary processing and separation technology confirmation, support the continuation of permitting and licensing for the Bear Lodge Project.  Given the critical nature of rare earth materials, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced on June 6, 2019 new streamlined permitting initiatives for critical minerals projects, like Bear Lodge, which should accelerate the permitting timeline. 

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. 

Rare Element Resources Ltd. is a publicly traded, strategic materials company focused on delivering rare earth products for technology, energy and defense applications by advancing the Bear Lodge Critical Rare Earth Project in northeast Wyoming. Bear Lodge is a significant mineralized district containing many of the less common, more valuable, critical rare earths that are essential for high-strength permanent magnets, electronics, fiber optics, laser systems for health and defense, as well as many evolving technologies like electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines. 

Please contact Randy Scott at +1 720-278-2460 or rscott@rareelementresources.com, for additional information.

Forward-Looking Statements
This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of securities legislation in the United States and Canada.  Except for statements of historical fact, certain information contained herein constitutes forward-looking statements.  Forward-looking statements are usually identified by our use of certain terminology, including “will,” “believes,” “may,” “expects,” “should,” “seeks,” “anticipates,” “plans,” “has potential to,” or “intends,” or by discussions of strategy or intentions.  Such forward-looking statements include statements regarding the impact of the completed and ongoing testwork to the Company and the Bear Lodge Project, including the ability to restart permitting of the project following testwork completion, testwork progression plans and timelines, and the potential ramifications and applications of its rare earth technology, or governmental initiatives. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially include, but are not limited to, the Company’s ability to remain compliant with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reporting requirements, market conditions, and other matters discussed under the caption “Risk Factors” in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018, and our other periodic and current reports filed with the SEC and available on www.sec.gov and with the Canadian securities commissions available on www.sedar.com. There can be no assurance that future developments affecting the Company will be those anticipated by management.  Please refer to the discussion of these and other uncertainties and risk factors set out in our filings made from time to time with the SEC and the Canadian regulators, including, without limitation, our reports on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q.  Any forward-looking statement made by us in this news release is based only on information currently available to us and speaks only as of the date on which it is made. While we may elect to update our forward-looking statements at any time, we undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether written or oral, that may be made from time to time, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.

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Bear Lodge Panoramic
Sample Drilling
Core Samples

The Bear Lodge Project area is a significant mineralized district that contains one of the largest disseminated rare earth deposits in North America. This deposit contains many of the less common, more valuable critical rare earths that are essential for electronics, fiber optics, laser systems for health and defense, and many evolving green technologies, such as hybrid cars, solar panels and wind turbines. Rare Element Resources owns 100% of the project and, after completing a positive preliminary feasibility study in 2014, is current working with state and federal regulators to secure the permits and licenses necessary to move the Project toward development. 

Project Highlights

  • Solid Returns with Excellent Upside – the October 2014 PFS shows an after-tax 29% IRR, a NPV of $330 million using a 10% discount and an initial payback period of less than 3 years. It also identified several opportunities for upside including further operating cost reductions with refinement of the Company’s proprietary processing technology, the ability to recover Inferred mineral resource within the pit outline, the current investigation of further separation as a means to participate more fully in the value chain, and the ability to boost revenues by recovering certain by-products.
  • Superior Location – Wyoming is recognized by Canada’s Fraser Institute as one of the world’s top five mining jurisdictions. The site is ideally located near existing infrastructure, has access to low cost power and is generally supported by the local communities, who are well versed in natural resource development.
  • Robust Ore Body – the strength of our mineral resource is demonstrated by a 45 year Project life with a high-grade core that  results in a 2.9 year payback period.
  • Proprietary Technology – continued improvements to the Company’s patent-pending recovery technology have delivered a 99.999% pure, thorium-free TREO concentrate.  Recent work has identified an enhancement to existing separation technology that has produced a number of high purity, separated rare earth products in bench-scale testing.  The process is not only efficient and cost effective but environmentally friendly.  Pilot plant testing was started in July 2015. 
  • Permitting Advancing – the US Forest Service is preparing the Environmental Impact Statement on the site, the draft of which is expect in the second half of 2015.  The Company submitted its applications for key permits and license to the appropriate state and federal agencies in the second quarter of 2015. 
  • Optimization Work – optimization work identified in the PFS is currently being undertaken and will support detailed engineering and the Feasibility Study.