Rare Element Resources Ltd., based in Littleton, Colorado, USA, has published an update on its planned rare earth processing and separation demonstration project in Upton, Wyoming, USA. The project is led by General Atomics, an affiliate of the Company’s largest shareholder Synchron, and has just completed the 60% plant design milestone and is advancing toward final detailed engineering, due for completion later this year.
Early expenditures for acquisition of long lead-time equipment and services are being made in an effort to minimise the effect of inflation and supply chain bottlenecks; permitting and licensing activities are also underway. These activities are taking place while the leased plant location in Upton is being prepared for construction by the site owner.
“We are very pleased that our rare earth demonstration plant project is progressing toward planned construction next summer. Permitting and licensing are now underway with several permits already received and others under agency review,” stated Randall Scott, president and CEO of the Rare Element Resources. “The General Atomics-led team recently completed a key design milestone with the Department of Energy (DOE), which is funding approximately one-half of the $44 million project budget. We understand the importance of this project for the establishment of a domestic rare earth supply, which is of vital important to our nation.”
The demonstration plant will make use of the company’s proprietary processing and separation technology, which is a closed-cycle process with fewer steps, resulting in expected attendant environmental benefits and lower costs compared with current technologies. The plant is expected to produce a commercial-grade neodymium/praseodymium (Nd/Pr) rare earth high-purity oxide, used in producing high-strength permanent magnets. These high-strength permanent magnets are a key component in the manufacture of electric vehicles and wind turbines, among other technology uses. The demonstration plant will process already stockpiled sample material from the company’s Bear Lodge Project located in northeastern Wyoming.
The company anticipates that the demonstration plant’s design will be complete by the end of 2022, followed by the completion of permitting activities in the second quarter of 2023 and the completion of the plant’s construction within a period of twelve months thereafter. Operations to process and separate the rare earth elements from the stockpiled sample will follow for an additional eight to twelve month period. The total estimated timeline for the project is approximately forty months, having begun in October 2021.
Scott concluded, “We continue to work diligently with the State of Wyoming, the University of Wyoming, and the town of Upton to ensure our demonstration project becomes a cornerstone for the rare earth industry in Wyoming and America, while providing a venue for worker training in rare earth processing and separation.”