IM Rare Earths News in Brief 26 March – 1 June

By James Sean Dickson
Published: Monday, 01 June 2015

Molycorp invokes loan interest payment grace period; TRER produces marketable rare earths concentrate; Commerce releases new drilling results.

US-based rare earths miner Molycorp Inc. is to utilise a 30 day grace period on a $32.5m semi-annual interest payment on its senior notes due in 2020.

The company said that the move would not trigger any cross-default provisions in other outstanding company debts prior to the end of the grace period and that it should not affect current operations.

After riding the rare earths pricing bubble in 2010, when China, the monopolistic supplier chose to restrict exports over a territory dispute, Molycorp has found the rare earths market tough since it began producing concentrates in 2012.

The company has continually made large quarterly financial losses and faces a delisting from the New York Stock Exchange should its share price trajectory not change.

Also headquartered in the US, Texas Rare Earth Resources Corp. (TRER) has produced a commercially marketable mid-heavy rare earth concentrate product from its mineralised rhyolite Round Top deposit, located 85 miles southeast of El Paso using process technology from K-Technologies Inc.

By using K-Technologies’ continuous ion chromatography (CIC) process, TRER hopes to first separate light, mid and heavy rare earths streams, before further separating these streams into individual rare earths concentrates.

"Removing the low value lanthanum and cerium at an early stage with minimal separation effort bodes well for the overall efficiency and economy of this process and also provides us the option of making a marketable praseodymium/neodymium plus mid-heavy rare earth concentrate," Dan Gorski, the company’s CEO, said.

"We intend to examine the economic possibilities of producing and marketing such a concentrate. However, our primary objective over the short term is to use the CIC process to refine further the mid-heavy concentrate and to produce individual high purity rare earths products that meet all commercial specifications," Gorski added.

TSX-listed Commerce Resources Corp. has announced a number of results from the first of eight drill holes at its recently completed winter-spring drilling programme for the Ashram rare earths project in northern Quebec.

Drill hole EC15-116 encountered 34.53 metres of ore at 2.12% total rare earth oxides (TREO), while others registered 60.83 metres at 2.03% TREO and 25.23 metres at 2.04% TREO.

Commerce said that the drilling programme had been initiated primarily to increase the resource confidence from its current inferred category to the measured and indicated categories, which is required for its prefeasibility study on the project.

Each of the eight drill holes was located along the eastern margin of the deposit and was successful at further delineating the mineralisation at Ashram, Commerce said.

Montreal-based Geomega Resources Inc. has seen funding totalling Canadian dollar (C$) 204,500 ($164,200*) granted to partners that will aid the development of the chemical processes required to extract rare earths from the company’s Quebec-located Montviel project in Canada.

Benoit Plante and Mostafa Benzaazoua received the grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) to study the geochemical behaviours of rare earth element mine discharges.

"With the process flow sheet now completed, targeted work will be used to predict the geochemical behaviour of the tailings and different lithologies of the Montviel project for sound environmental management," Geomega’s chief geologist and geochemist, Mia Pelletier, said.

"Overall, the expertise and scientific data collected as part of our geochemical characterisation programme will be put at the disposal of the different researchers and governmental bodies in charge of establishing environmental criteria for the mining of rare earths deposits," she added.

*Conversion made June 2015