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Ucore’s Chairman and CEO, Pat Ryan, P.Eng., introduces current and prospective shareholders to an overview of Ucore’s plan of execution for developing a necessary and innovative North American rare earth element (REE) supply chain along with its strategic upstream and downstream partners.
Ucore is focused on the commercial demonstration, and subsequent deployment of its transformative RapidSX™ separation technology for the midstream separation of mixed rare earth oxides (REOs) and other chemical concentrates to high-purity individual REOs. These critical metals are essential to North American original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – as they transition from an internal combustion engine and fossil fuel economy to one established on highly efficient electric motors and generators made possible through rare earth permanent magnets (REPMs).
Demand for Neodymium alloys and powders will be 250,000 tonnes higher than in 2020, requiring an unprecedented 300% increase in global production of neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, and terbium over the next ten years.
However, when peering into the outlook for the next decade to come, it becomes quickly apparent that the rapid demand growth of the 2020s will soon be dwarfed by the astronomical demand growth of the 2030’s – and therein lies the real defining challenge and opportunity facing the global rare earth industry today.
Voracious demand driven by the advent of electrical vehicles underpins the Ucore business model to develop critical metals processing technology for the Western World and propels Ucore towards developing North American rare earth oxide production facilities to begin the establishment of an independent North American supply chain for these critical rare earth elements.
In the early-1990s, China began to strategically exploit its large supplies of rare earth elements, and without the strict labor laws and environmental regulations found in the United States, quickly began to satisfy the world demand at a fraction of the cost of US production.
By the early 2000s China produced 97% of the world’s rare earth elements, and in September 2010, a maritime dispute between Japan and China quickly alerted the Western world to just how dependent it had become on China for these critical metals.
Since 2009, Ucore has been focused on re-building a modern North American rare earth element supply chain.
There are multiple processing steps required between the time rare earths are mined until they are ultimately incorporated into rare earth permanent magnets, and then into the end products that are so crucial to our modern way of life. Most current and prospective rare earth miners outside of China produce or plan to produce a mixed rare earth concentrate. The majority of these concentrates are then sent to China for separation and further downstream processing. While under 60% of rare earths are mined in China, over 85% of rare earth separation takes place there. Ucore intends to fill this void by constructing the first modern rare earth separation facility in North America. This is a highly profitable step – Rare earth concentrates typically sell for nearly half of the value of the contained rare earths allowing Ucore to capture significant market share with its commercial deployment of its highly efficient RapidSX™ technology platform as a Westernized version of conventional solvent extraction (SX). It is this critical process and the subsequent upstream and downstream supply chain synergy that Ucore adds to the North American rare earth supply chain.