Critical Metals

Quantum Rare Earth Developments Corp. showed it’s serious about developing a rare earth property when it acquired 100 percent of Elk Creek Resources Corp. last week.

By Desmond McMahon– Exclusive to Rare Earth Investing News

Quantum Rare Earth Developments Corp. (TSX.V: QRE)  showed it’s serious about developing a rare earth property when it acquired 100 percent of Elk Creek Resources Corp. last week.

Elk Creek Resources holds the mining rights to the coveted Elk Creek carbonatite in southeastern Nebraska, which the US Geological Society claims potentially holds one of the largest global deposits of niobium and rare earth elements approximately 150 meters underground.

The project is still in the exploratory stage, but Paul Hammel of the Omaha World-Herald reports Quantum director, Erin Chutter, thinks the chances of developing the site are “quite high.” It will take four to five months for Quantum to complete the $10 million purchase and then could take five years before mining would begin.

That timeline could workout perfectly for Quantum. The United States  is looking for a home-grown rare earth supply and is in the initial stages of developing its first-ever strategic plan for a domestic rare earth supply chain. As a result, the Elk Creek site could become a government priority; there is already local support for development.

Niobium, the major element at the site, is already used in producing high-strength, low-alloy steel for gas pipelines, automobile components, jet engines, and structural steel. Superconductors and electronics are other uses for niobium, but it’s green technologies growing dependence on the mineral that may put the most strain on supply.

While the Elk Creek property clearly jumps to the front of the line on Quantum’s roster, the company also holds rights to a rare earth property near Archie Lake, Saskatchewan.  In 2009, Quantum completed an extensive sampling program and has filed a 43-101 report that returned some eye popping numbers on the 2,108-hectare claim: 18 samples exceed two percent rare earth and yttrium, 6 exceed five percent and 3 exceed ten percent. Additional surface sampling and drilling is set to take place over the spring and summer with results expected by the fall.

Quantum also holds two highly speculative tenement packages in Australia. Its Jungle Well and Laverton properties are both in the vicinity of Lynas Corporation’s (ASX: LYC) world-class Mount Weld rare earth deposit, which Lynas recently announced a US$450 million funding package for.

US Department of Energy Issues RFI on Rare Earth Policy

The US Department of Energy signaled it is in the early stages of developing its first-ever strategic plan for rare earth metals when it issued a Request For Information (RFI) from industry leaders, research labs, academics, and any other organizations with an interest or stake in rare earth metals. This announcement is just the latest in a series from the US Government after China announced they may divert more of its rare earth resources to its domestic market, further squeezing the rest of the world’s supply.

Speaking at a Washington, DC conference on rare earth metals in March last month Department of Energy assistant secretary David Sandalow noted that China may control 95 percent of the rare earth market today, but that Brazil, India, and even the United States with Mountain Pass mine in California, had all dominated it in the past. “There’s no reason to panic, but every reason to be smart and serious as we plan for growing global demand for products that contain rare earth metals,” he said. “The United States intends to be a world leader in clean energy technologies.”

With help from Assistant Editor Vivien Diniz

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