November 10, 2020
Search Minerals Inc. (TSXV: SMY) and USA Rare Earth, LLC are pleased to announce that they have entered into a Technical Collaboration Framework Agreement to govern initial cooperation between USA Rare Earth and Search in a number of important areas of mutual interest.
Search holds patented Direct Extraction Process technology and owns 100% of a Critical Rare Earth Element District in SE Labrador, Canada. USA Rare Earth is establishing an integrated mine-to-magnet strategy independent of China, including funding and developing the Round Top Heavy Rare Earth and Critical Minerals Project in West Texas.
In January 2020, the U.S. and Canada announced the U.S. – Canada Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration, intended to advance “mutual interest(s) in securing supply chains for the critical minerals needed for important manufacturing sectors, including communication technology, aerospace and defense, and clean technology.” In June 2020, the Canadian and U.S Governments reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the North American supply chain for critical minerals – essential to both countries’ national security and economic growth.
USA Rare Earth is the development and funding partner of the Round Top Mountain critical minerals and heavy rare earth project in Hudspeth County, West Texas. It also owns sintered rare earth magnet manufacturing equipment previously owned and operated by Hitachi Metals in North Carolina, and earlier this year opened a rare earth and critical minerals facility in Wheat Ridge to commission a pilot plant using Continuous Ion Exchange (CIX) extraction, separation and recovery methods using feedstock from Round Top and other non-Chinese sources.
Search’s Critical Materials District (“District”) in southeast Labrador, Canada currently has a Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”) report for the Foxtrot Project along with a mineral resource estimate for the Deep Fox Project. In addition, the 2020 exploration program has been completed, as the Company worked on its Fox Meadow, Silver Fox and Awesome Fox prospects within the District. In addition to the rare earth elements, Search is testing a flowsheet to obtain additional value from the high Zirconium and Hafnium values which has been discovered on surface at Silver Fox.
Under Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and Department of Energy (DoE) grants, USA Rare Earth’s JV partner and prior operator Texas Mineral Resources Corp. (OTCQB: TMRC), demonstrated the ability to produce high-purity separation of rare earth oxides. The work currently underway at USA Rare Earth’s Wheat Ridge facility is to produce high purity (+99.5%) separated rare earth oxides, lithium compounds, zirconium, hafnium and other metals from Round Top and for other strategic partners. Under the Collaboration Agreement with Search, USA Rare Earth will expand this scope to include material from Search’s Labrador project.
USA Rare Earth and Search have established this technical collaboration for the purpose of working jointly and collaboratively to advance the development of the mineral resources held by each company. This will involve technical assistance through joint technical meetings, sharing of data, site visits and reviews and collaboration around the engineering and development of the Critical Material projects.
Greg Andrews, President/CEO of Search stated: “We believe our synergies both with our technical collaboration and our resources will provide a strong partnership to help with our goals to support a North American rare earth supply chain. We are excited to work with USA Rare Earth, as they build out their Mine to Magnet strategy.”
“We see many opportunities to work with Search in the spirit of the U.S. – Canada Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration. Search’s Labrador projects and USA Rare Earth’s Round Top project are highly complementary in terms of supplying our sintered neo magnet plant with all four neo magnet rare earths,” stated Pini Althaus, CEO of USA Rare Earth.
Mr. Althaus continued, “Our collaboration with Search Minerals offers an opportunity to underscore the versatility of our Continuous Ion Exchange processing system in separating rare earths and critical minerals from multiple feedstocks, building on our ongoing evaluation of Heavy Rare Earth concentrate from Arafura’s Nolans Project in Australia’s Northern Territory.” Mr. Althaus noted that Canada, the U.S. and Australia are three of the four members of the U.S. National Technology Industrial Base (“NTIB”) before concluding, “This new collaboration with Search advances our Wheat Ridge, Colorado facility as a hub for rare earth separation in Canada, Australia and the U.S., focusing on rare earth oxides, particularly for neo magnets.”
Growth in rare earth markets is being driven by rare earth (neo) magnets used in electric motors for electric vehicles and generators in wind turbines. Neo magnets used in these high-temperature applications use alloys including neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, and terbium. USA Rare Earth expects Round Top to become the core, long-term supplier of dysprosium and terbium for its sintered neo magnet manufacturing. However, it will be also be seeking long-term supplies of neodymium and praseodymium over and above its expected capacity at Round Top.