By Sarah Pridgeon
Rare Element Resources begins the year with an estimated budget of $25 million, the company announced this week, the vast majority of which will be directed towards developing the rare earth mine project at Bull Hill and Whitetail Ridge, as well as pilot plant testing of the ore from both locations.
Meanwhile, a Plan of Operations was submitted to the US Forest Service in November as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) permitting process and the Definitive Feasibility Study is in progress, both significant steps in the process of securing permission for the rare earth mine to be constructed.
“We’re making substantial progress on the Forest Service permit and the results show how the success we had on our 2012 exploration significantly expanded our geologic understanding of this rare earths district,” comments Linda Tokarczyk, Manager of Community Relations.
“We expect additional information to come from this as more of the data is evaluated. We are also making substantial progress on identifying a lower cost metallurgical process and are beginning technology to separate the rare earth elements.”
Within the Plan of Operations is a description of the proposed project, which will now be used to begin an analysis of its environmental impact. The impact assessment will begin in 2013, while other environmental and operating permit applications will also be filed this year for federal and state requirements.
“At the end of 2013, we hope to be well into the Draft Environmental Impact Study process with the Forest Service; well into the Definitive Feasibility Study to be prepared by the company; and our State Mine Permit Application should also have been submitted to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality,” says Tokarczyk.
Also included in 2013’s budget is a multi-million dollar program of explorative drilling, targeting the areas of heavy rare earth elements that were recently discovered. Previous testing of the main deposit at Bull Hill meanwhile resulted in a process that will be capable of producing a bulk concentrate of rare earth carbonate; this process was advanced during 2012 and will continue to be improved this year.
“Each rare earths deposit is unique in grade, metallurgy, relative mix of the elements, host rock chemistry and so on,” explains Tokarczyk. “This requires a somewhat unique process methodology as well due to ore variability, variable amounts of unwanted contaminants and so on.”
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