Investment deal complete, Rare Element Resources contend they’re restarting project
By Sarah Pridgeon
Rare Element Resources has sealed the deal that will breathe new life into its project to open a rare earth mine in the Bearlodge Mountains, says CEO Randy Scott. Though the company is still dusting off the details after 18 months in stasis, it may not be too long before Sundance starts to see activity in the hills once again.
“We now have a new significant shareholder, Synchron, and they have contributed $4.75 million. That’s good news for us,” Scott says.
“We’re going through what that means to us now. We’ve had the project on a care and maintenance basis for a couple of years, so it’s time for us to think about what the future might hold.”
RER announced earlier this month that Synchron, an affiliate of General Atomics, has purchased around 33.5 percent of the company’s issued common shares, a total of 26,650,000, for $4.752 million. Synchron has also secured the option to purchase an additional 15.49 percent of those shares for $5,040,000 within the next four years.
Synchron also now has the right to use and improve RER’s intellectual property relating to the processing and separation of rare earths and will have minority voting rights on certain corporate actions, with two directors joining RER’s board.
“We’re excited about that. We’ve got a great new partner and we’re looking forward to moving forward on the project,” says Scott. “They’re an amazing company and we’re very fortunate to have them as a partner on this.”
RER’s vision remains the same, he says: for the Bearlodge to become the next rare earth producer in the United States and focus on the critical materials for developing technology, green energy and defense applications.
Fresh from signing on the dotted line, the company is now turning its attention to the road ahead. The next few weeks, says Scott, will be all about planning for the future.
“We have some changes yet to be made with regards to directors and board members and participation by the new partner, so we are looking at developing an updated work plan,” he explains.
“We have not yet had the chance to fully vet that work plan, nor have we had a chance to have it approved and blessed by the board and others so that we can get started on it.”
Among the possible changes, RER is looking at progressing its proprietary processing technology, for which it filed provisional patents before lack of funding forced the project into a holding pattern.
“We are looking to complete one or two more steps of that to firm up the further downstream separation of the valuable rare earth elements, those that are used primarily in the production of permanent high strength magnets,” Scott says.
“That’s the application which is growing leaps and bounds these days.”
RER is also looking at a couple of other ways to optimize the project, says Scott.
“Those concepts are being vetted, fleshed out and then will be reviewed by the board in the near future. We’ll probably have more to say about our forward path at that time,” he says.
Despite these minor changes, Scott stresses that there have been no changes to the overall concept.
“Of course, the resource can’t move, so it’s still up there in the Bearlodge, right where we want it. The Upton plant site is currently identified and I don’t anticipate it will change – the site where we would construct the hydrometallurgical recovery process,” he confirms.
“Right now, it’s the same project that we’ve looked at in the past. We’re going to look at tweaking it, maybe, but as far as the project goes that’s identified right now, it’s the same.”
The timeline has yet to be set, but if all continues to plan, it’s possible that Sundance may see activity in the hills within the next few months.
“We’ve had a lot of support locally and we very much appreciate that. We’ve tried to be good neighbors and make sure people know what we’re all about and how important it is to have a domestic supply of critical materials and we’ve always met with a lot of great support in Sundance with that,” Scott concludes.
“Times have been tough all over the place for natural resources, but I do think they’re starting to look up quite a bit over the last six months or so.”