This announcement and prioritization are significant for Ucore, as 7 of the 8 primary minerals at the Bokan Mountain Complex (“BMC“) in Southeast Alaska are identified as Critical Minerals under the Report.
Ucore’s Bokan Dotson Ridge development is considered one of the most heavily enriched zones within the BMC. In 1989, the U.S. Bureau of Mines (“USBM“) released an extensive study1 naming the following minerals as being significantly enriched in the nine zones of the BMC geology: Beryllium, Niobium, the Rare Earth Elements (“REE“) Group, Yttrium, Tantalum, Uranium & Zirconium (the 8th non-critical mineral is Thorium). The Report additionally references U.S. Government archives, such as USBM data, as leading sources of information on the availability and whereabouts of Critical Minerals on U.S. soil.
“Continuing trade tensions between the U.S. and China have resulted in the urgent calls to action and long term goals of this Report”, said Jim McKenzie, President and CEO of Ucore. “The tensions have also prompted significant recent price gains for minerals that Bokan has in abundance, most notably Heavy REE’s such as Dy and Tb. The Bokan deposit is unique in the U.S., with its unusual skew towards these valuable HREE’s. Bokan is also unique in its ease of access, its limited projected development cost, and its significant financial backing by the State of Alaska2. We applaud the Trump Administration for identifying these critical resources and streamlining their route to production.”
“Ucore’s Bokan Mountain development project is a substantial strategic asset, especially with its American location and proximity to major shipping lanes,” said Mike Schrider, COO of Ucore. “The Company is in a continuous assessment/planning mode on the advancement of Bokan. The project is already highly developed, with the remaining steps to the commencement of mine construction being the delivery of our final feasibility study, the finalizing of permitting, and the completion of detail construction engineering required to get the mine shovel ready. The initiatives set out in the U.S. DOC Report, the recent gains in REE prices at a global level, in combination with our gains in the deployment of REE extraction technology, are extremely useful in the delivery of our feasibility documents.”
The Report emphasizes the current lengthy timelines associated with permitting and executing the mineral assessment, exploration, mining, processing, and reclamation processes. Ucore notes it has completed its initial REE mineral assessment and exploration work from which it established a NI-43-101 compliant Preliminary Economic Assessment (the “PEA”) (see Ucore press release dated January 15, 2013) which includes an analysis of proposed mining methodologies, mineral processing, prospective planning and production timelines; as well as 2013 values for anticipated capital and operating costs, and the expected IRR for the project.
The PEA was followed by additional exploration and a subsequent REE resource upgrade for the Bokan Dotson Zone deposit (see Ucore press release dated May 11, 2015) and from a technical perspective, Ucore is ready to commence the engineering and permitting required for the first mining phase. The Company estimates the project can be fully permitted and shovel ready in less than 30 months from receipt of the necessary funding for these activities. Ucore will then be positioned to commence mine site construction, mining and processing upon acceptance of the project by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (“AIDEA”) and receipt of additional market support.
Michael Schrider, P.E., COO of Ucore, has approved the scientific and technical content of this news release and is the Qualified Person responsible for its accuracy. Mr. Schrider, is a registered professional engineer in the State of Louisiana, holds a B.S. degree in engineering from the University of New Orleans and a M.Eng. degree in mining engineering (mineral processing emphasis) from The University of Arizona.