IM Rare Earths News in Brief 15 – 21 December

By James Sean Dickson
Published: Monday, 21 December 2015

Rare Element testwork reveals positive separation results as company elects to cut staff and delist from TSX; Spectrum suspends Skyfall development permanently owing to metallurgical complexities and low prices; Stans arranges shares for debt agreement with COO.

US-headquartered Rare Element Resources Ltd has announced the latest results from its metallurgical testwork programme, including the production of 99% pure lanthanum oxide from a pilot plant and the optimisation, at a bench scale, of a recovery process yielding 99% cerium removal plus light and heavy rare earth separation.

The light rare earth stream produced by this process was primarily comprised of lanthanum and didymium (neodymium and praseodymium), Rare Element said. "It is expected that using the LRE stream as feed for the lanthanum recovery module will produce both pure lanthanum and pure didymium products," the company added.

Randall Scott, Rare Element’s CEO, said: "The data generated by testing confirmed and expanded our success at utilising our proprietary separation technology to increase the purity of our concentrate while recovering commercially valuable separated rare earth products that were then supplied to an interested potential offtake partner."

Rare Element also this week elected to voluntarily apply for delisting from the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), though it intends to maintain its NYSE MKT listing under the ticker symbol "REE". The company will also cut jobs and consolidate its facilities, in addition to selling its non-essential equipment and assets.

"Unfortunately, the rare earth market continues to suffer from many of the short-term issues impacting the greater global resource market.  When one couples this with continued uncertainty around the timing and the final requirements of our draft environmental impact statement (DEIS), taking these cost-cutting steps is the right business decision," Scott added.

"These measures are intended to position us to be able to move the project forward expeditiously when conditions improve, while allowing us in the interim to pursue permitting and strategic alternatives like off-take agreements, joint ventures or potential mergers."

In Australia, Spectrum Rare Earths Ltd has elected to suspend the development of the Sykfall rare earth project in the country’s Northern Territory. All Skyfall leases are to be relinquished and the company will review its remaining assets.

"Unfortunately the Skyfall rare earths district mineralisation is particularly complex and of a very fine (microscopic particle) nature, which results in in a challenging recovery of the rare earths (compared to some other styles of clay hosted mineralisation around the world," Spectrum said.

"While the most recent test work advanced our understanding of the mineralogy and metallurgy, it did not identify a substantially better, more cost effective mechanism that could have resulted in any material improvement of the earlier scoping study results," Spectrum added.

The company’s marketing consultant introduced and marketed the project to various private and government organisations "known previously to have had an interest in the rare earths industry" worldwide, but this campaign "failed to identify any tangible commercial interest".

TSX-V-listed Stans Energy Corp. has entered a shares for debt settlement with Boris Aryev, the company’s chief operating officer (COO).

Aryev will receive 200,000 common shares of the company priced at Canadian dollar (C$)0.05/share ($0.04/share*).

Stans said it owed Aryev compensation for his base salary in the August-November period of 2015, and that Aryev accepted the shares as a partial payment for the time period.

Halifax, Nova Scotia-headquartered Namibia Rare Earths Inc. has announced that its CEO, Gerald McConnel, has acquired an additional 6.9m shares in the company, representing 9% of its total share capital.

Following the private share purchase agreement, McConnell now holds just over 9m shares in the company, representing 11.6% of the company and making him the second largest shareholder in the company.

*Conversion made December 2015