It is important to highlight what must be said in this sector so essential to the economic survival of the United States and The West. We will not belabor our readers knowledge of the importance to our industrial survival especially of the critical rare earths. It is agreed that these elements are the very lifeblood of national growth as a modern nation.
It is well known that as our corporate society evolves, these elements are vital for countries to stay competitive with the Chinese who are actually making constructive advances in this area. Just think of the benefits that could accrue to the Japanese Auto Industry if they didn’t have to go hat in hand to their Chinese neighbors who are exploiting the rare earth issue asking for more a la Oliver Twist.
Not only do the Chinese have a twenty year lead on what was essentially our native domestic wealth, but they are issuing declarations that they will be importing these elements for their own industrial base. Adding chutzpah to injury they are inviting foreign entities to set up factories in China! This is a Catch-22, in that along with the Chinese seduction will come all of the intellectual property from the West.
Beware of Mandarins bearing attractive gifts. To paraphrase a line from Shakespeare, “The trouble is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” It is high time that we discover new stratagems. Let’s not leave everything in the hands of China. A national stockpile might be a good start. However, the heart of the issue is that it is not enough to just mine and concentrate the rare earths, then send it to China for separation, so they can sell it back to us. We must establish a supply chain between mining and manufacturing so the rare earth oxides can be converted to magnets, batteries and phosphors to compete. We have been waiting patiently for industrial end users to partner with our rare earth mining stocks. The latest news on rare earths this time out of South Africa reveals that big money is putting their faith in rare earths, going full speed ahead. Example: South African Rare Earth miner Frontier Rare Earths (FRO.TO) announces a definitive strategic partnership with a consortium of Korean companies such as Samsung, Hyundai, Daewoo and others. Frontier is up close to 24% on the announcement despite being in a downtrend for 2011. What does this mean to our readers? Essentially, rare earths are far from moribund despite being temporarily down. A rebound in rare earths IS LONG PAST DUE!
Many of the rare earths are decisively advancing in a tidal wave of green. Specifically our heavy rare earth assets such as Tasman and Ucore appear to be crossing the 50 day moving average to the upside, on increasing volume.
Technically this indicates that the early October selling may have been an exhaustion bottom forming move and the trend may indeed be reversing off that low in a “v” shaped reversal. While it is perhaps early to call this bottom, hopefully this is the emergence of a positive pattern. Oversold conditions appear to be similar to the summer of 2010, where we saw a very powerful reversal, leading to geometric gains in this sector. In fact, many of our rare earth selections have successfully tested those 2010 lows which have held firm.
This could be start of the next phase in the ongoing development of the rare earth sector.
Tasman Metals (TAS:NYSE) has just made a significant development. They are now trading on the NYSE-Amex, which will elevate their exposure to U.S. retail investors. This is significant as they are planning to publish their Preliminary Economic Assessment in early 2012. Norra Karr is a very important project for Europe. The mineral resource at Norra Kärr is the only NI 43-101 compliant REE resource in mainland Europe.
Last month, I visited Hazen Labs to review the metallurgical analysis done on Ucore’s (UCU.V) Bokan Mountain ore. The recovery percentages from Hazen through the separation and leaching are extremely encouraging. Remember recoveries from Phase 1 were done on the whole ore and did not not include any physical concentrating. A process flow sheet should be delivered by the end of the year.
In addition to the successful leaching, Ucore has released news that they can double the head grade using x ray technology to pre-separate the waste rock from the ore. It appears that the use of this innovative sorting technology will significantly increase the head grade and decrease the separation costs downstream. With this development Ucore has one of the highest head grades of heavy rare earths in the world, which could significantly reduce metallurgical processing costs. During the second phase of metallurgical work, Hazen will further refine the leaching method and will now take into account the physical pre-concentration techniques. Significant catalysts are expected as Phase 2 metallurgical work is underway and a process flow sheet should be published by the end of the year. A preliminary economic assessment should be published by the end of the first quarter of 2012. This should demonstrate to investors that Ucore’s Bokan Mountain can be a viable, economic and only U.S. domestic source of the critical elements dysprosium and terbium.
Ucore is making rapid strides catching up and hurdling over competition as they progress towards their preliminary economic assessment after receiving remarkable metallurgical results. Ucore has geopolitical support in Alaska and a favorable location having deep water access in southeast Alaska.
On this next move in rare earths we expect Ucore to gain market share and outperform their rivals. Be assured that we will keep an eagle’s eye on these developments versus some of its overvalued peers and hope that government and industry take the appropriate steps in the renaissance of the rare earths in the United States. “The day is short, but the task is great.”
Disclosure: Jeb Handwerger and/or his family is owners of Ucore and Tasman.