HALIFAX – Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSXV: UCU) (OTCQX: UURAF) today reported on several developments with rare earth elements involving the US government’s National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.
The bill, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 335 to 78 on December 8, 2020, requires most Department of Defense systems to use REE mined and refined entirely outside of China within five years and directs the government to prefer US suppliers of strategic and critical materials (which includes REE) in the acquisition process.
The bill also requires the Secretary of Defense to make several assessments on the best actions to improve the domestic availability of REE, such as investments through the Defense Production Act or restrictions on foreign suppliers. This will include an annual report to Congress on the state of REE domestic production, including supply chain gaps and vulnerabilities.
Ucore Chairman and Interim CEO, Pat Ryan, P.Eng., commented, “The NDAA for FY21 takes critical steps for REE that will help the US defense industrial base and domestic providers of critical minerals. It also supports Ucore’s strategy of being the preeminent long-term and secure provider and processor of heavy rare earth oxides for US defense and commercial needs.”
The provisions of the NDAA stand to strengthen the prospects of Ucore’s Bokan-Dotson Ridge Heavy Rare Earth Element Project eventually becoming the go-to source for heavy rare-earth mining in the United States. The NDAA’s directive regarding REE refining and separation will also help Ucore in the nearer-term to develop the Alaska Strategic Metals Complex in Ketchikan, Alaska, a planned facility initiated with long-term, non-Chinese feedstock supply agreements and domestic offtake arrangements.
Ucore VP & COO, Mike Schrider, P.E., stated, “The timing of this NDAA coincides with a change to the Chinese export control law which may impact the supply of rare earth elements from China – a move that has created a significant recent price increase for rare earth oxides used in the production of magnets. Our planned Alaska SMC will be designed to produce the full complement of the magnetic rare earth oxides and we are highly encouraged by these emerging rare-earth market sector commercial opportunities and enhanced government support as we enter 2021.”
The U.S. Senate is projected to pass the bill in the next several days.