The (Not So) Secret Ingredients that Make Tech Possible

The Investing News Network spoke with David Abraham, author of “The Elements of Power,” about his new book and the importance of rare metals in our high-tech age.

From couches and camera lenses to computers and cars, rare metals are everywhere. However, many people do not know where these rare metals come from, and just how critical they are in our modern lives.
In his new book, “The Elements of Power — Gadgets, Guns, and the Struggle for a Sustainable Future in the Rare Metal Age,” David Abraham does an excellent job of bridging that gap. Covering an impressive scope that includes geopolitics, the public markets, the difficulties of rare earths processing and the opaque world of rare metals trading, Abraham tells an engaging story of the metals we rarely hear about.
As he explains in the book — which is focused on rare earths, but also covers other metals, such as niobium, cobalt and titanium — rare metals may only be used in small amounts, but they make a big difference. “In essence, they fill a similar role to that of yeast in pizza,” he writes. “Without yeast, there’s no pizza, and without rare metals there’s no high tech world.”
For example, a dash of indium is what makes the touchscreen on an iPhone possible. All in all, the phone relies on almost half the elements on the planet.
Most investors interested in the rare metals space have grasped this idea, but Abraham, who’s also director of the Technology, Rare and Electronic Metals Center, aims to reach a broader audience. “My hope is that this book in some measure will serve as a rallying call to inspire a new generation to learn more about the ingredients of our gadgets, guns, and sustainable future,” the book concludes.
The Investing News Network got in touch with the author to get a more insight into the book, and into what the future holds for rare metals.

Changes needed

For Abraham, the scariest part of the rare earths conundrum he’s outlined is that fears about supply security might lead companies to substitute rare metals.
“We’re really relying on all the properties of these materials for some aspect of the system,” he said. “And if we try to substitute away from them because we’re fearful of geopolitics, or because the price is so expensive that we’re not able to incorporate some of these game-changing technologies, some of these advantages won’t come about.”
In that light, he believes that it’s important to understand what’s in our products, and thinks that the decisions we make individually about how we use resources is important. “If we don’t understand what resources we’re using, then when we dump a phone, we don’t understand what we’re throwing away,” he explained.
He hopes that doing so will encourage both companies and individuals to use rare metals more efficiently — via recycling, reuse and remanufacturing — and to support transparency in the market.
“That’s where I’d have an international materials agency, anything we can do to shine a light on these markets is helpful for investors. Because to invest in these markets right now is a real challenge,” he said. “You’re relying on governments in certain places, companies that don’t want to be as extended as they could be, it’s a real challenge.”
Of course that might not be so simple; as Abraham explains in his book, many market participants benefit from maintaining the status quo. However, the author is optimistic, argued that there’s always potential for innovation, even it it’s difficult to predict.
For example, he stated that five years ago, no one was expecting a shakeup of the taxi industry. Even though the system is expensive and inefficient, change wouldn’t have seemed possible. “But then three years later, Uber comes in and Uber changes the market,” he said.
He added, ”I think it would be very hard to create a market for some of these materials because of the specialty grades that they trade in — but there are things that can happen.”

Capital markets

Beyond technological, environmental and production concerns surrounding rare metals, Abraham devotes a chapter of his book to the corporate challenges that plague the sector, from the near monopoly held by Brazil’s Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração over the niobium market, to the challenges faced by junior rare earths companies trying to get their projects off the ground.
“The challenge is that junior mining companies are like biotech start-ups; most, even those with the most promising projects, will fail,” he writes. “But without biotech, the next great cancer drug won’t be developed; without these junior miners, the world won’t have the ingredients for the next green power source.”
That said, he also pulls no punches when describing the junior mining space, stating that, “[a]lthough outright fraud is very rare, junior mining companies have a history of playing fast and loose with their business plans, a practice that has seeded a legacy of mistrust.” To be sure, junior rare earths investors have as big a task in front of them as any when it comes to doing due diligence on investments in the space.
When asked what junior mining companies could do to improve investor confidence in the space, Abraham simply replied that “candor” would go a long way.
“It’s really hard, because nuance doesn’t sell,” he said. “So showing that you’re the biggest or you’re the best or you’re the most efficient, and ‘we’re just one step away from becoming the next great mine’ is helpful. But when there’s a cacophony of everyone doing that, you have a lack of trust in the sector.”
Still, Abraham conceded that he understands the pressure to be positive and keep projects going, especially when people’s livelihoods are at stake. “They face a tough calculus,” he said.

What can investors do?

Certainly, the rare metals sector can be a difficult one to follow. “The Elements of Power” provides as thorough an introduction as any to the space, but as investors will find, getting a clear picture is easier said than done.
So what’s an interested investor to do? Abraham suggested that the best thing is to “ask the dumb questions” for a start.
“When I started in this sector, I wouldn’t ask questions if I felt it would reveal my naivete or my newness to the sector,” he said. “But the longer I’ve been it it, you realize, you must ask the dumb questions, because they’re not always dumb. There are so many different metals, and you’re right to ask those questions.”
And if investors can’t get a straight answer? “Then that’s your answer,” he said. “Move on.”

Securities Disclosure: I, Teresa Matich, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Featured
Ucore conducted Bokan field mapping work in September 2021Ucore to conduct the Bokan channel and bulk sampling program during the Summer 2022 field seasonAll required state and federal permits are now in hand for the Summer 2022 field seasonUcore Rare Metals Inc. is pleased to announce that on November 10, 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture's Forest Service issued a 1-year authorization for Ucore to ...
  • Ucore conducted Bokan field mapping work in September 2021
  • Ucore to conduct the Bokan channel and bulk sampling program during the Summer 2022 field season
  • All required state and federal permits are now in hand for the Summer 2022 field season

Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSXV: UCU) (OTCQX: UURAF) ("Ucore" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that on November 10, 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture's Forest Service (the "USFS") issued a 1-year authorization for Ucore to commence with the Dotson Ridge 2021 Surface Exploration Project Plan of Operations (the "Project"). The Company has elected to conduct the sampling work during next summer's field season and now has all required state and federal Project permits for this work.

On May 12, 2021, Ucore announced the Project to upgrade its Bokan-Dotson Ridge heavy rare earth element ("HREE") mineral resource, disclosed in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 ("NI 43-101"), with a budget of approximately $400,000. The Project is expected to result in converting approximately 17-20% of the mineral resource to a new Measured mineral resource category; with over 90% of the new Measured material being drawn from currently Indicated mineral resource material and 10% from currently Inferred mineral resource material. This will be accomplished through the execution of approximately 50 additional channel samplings along the ≈2 km of exposed vein outcroppings of the Dotson Ridge Zone. Secondly, the Company will conduct bulk sampling activities to obtain ≈50 tonnes of additional mineralized material to facilitate prospective pilot-scale testing of its metallurgical recovery methods currently under laboratory-scale finalization at SGS Canada's Lakefield facility.

In September 2021, Ucore's COO, Mike Schrider, and Aurora Geosciences' General Manager, Alaska, Jim Robinson, P.Geo., conducted field mapping work to physically identify the two bulk sample areas and to coordinate next summer's field activities. Both of these activities are to ready the Company to conduct a Pre-Feasibility Study ("PFS") and/or a Feasibility Study ("FS") in the near future as the REO market continues to indicate a steady increase in response to the advent of the global adoption of electric vehicles ("EVs").

The Bokan Mountain Complex has approximately nine different historical REE mineralization zones[i] but only one of these, the Bokan-Dotson Ridge Zone, has been the focus of Ucore's rare earth mineral resource development. The Bokan-Dotson Ridge mineral resource remains open down-dip and along strike. After the Summer 2022 fieldwork is completed, the Company intends to conduct any additional exploration activities concurrently with prospective mine development activities.

Cannot view this image? Visit: https://orders.newsfilecorp.com/files/1119/103904_d3bee94b542a380e_001.jpg

Figure 1- Bulk Sampling Marking of REE Vein Outcroppings at Bokan-Dotson Ridge, September 22, 2021

To view an enhanced version of Figure 1, please visit:
https://orders.newsfilecorp.com/files/1119/103904_d3bee94b542a380e_001full.jpg

"The long-term development of Bokan is a fundamental tenet of our Alaska 2023 Plan, and Ucore is committed to the establishment of a heavy rare earth element mineral reserve and eventual mine at the Bokan-Dotson Ridge project," said Ucore VP & COO, Mike Schrider, P.E. "While we have the long-term development of the Bokan Mountain Complex in our sights, we are also committed to the near-term development of a comprehensive US-centric rare earth element supply chain. In our view, this starts with the development of the environmentally sound and technologically efficient Alaska Strategic Metals Complex ["SMC"] rare earth processing facility based on RapidSX™ separation technology. And the concurrent development of the accompanying infrastructure required to support the upstream and downstream elements of this emerging supply chain through the association of key industry suppliers, partners, and customers."

The advancements at Bokan are just one of many steps in the development of the ALASKA2023 Plan that Ucore is currently progressing, including:

  • Through its wholly owned subsidiary Innovation Metals Corp. ("IMC"), commercial demonstration and deployment of the RapidSX™ separation technology platform
  • Securing third-party allied-sourced feedstock for the Alaska SMC (see Ucore's October 19, 2021, news release regarding the MOU with Vital Metals)
  • Engineering planning for the Alaska SMC REE separation & purification plant founded on modern RapidSX™ technology
  • Securing offtake agreements for the sale of rare earth oxides
  • Forming strategic alliances for the production of rare earth metals and oxides
  • Working with prospective partners for various sources of project funding:
  • Engineering and testing for the Bokan-Dotson Ridge Zone mill flowsheet
  • Community and stakeholder engagement to ensure prudent environmental, social and corporate governance ("ESG") activities

###

About Ucore Rare Metals Inc.

Ucore is focused on rare- and critical-metals resources, extraction, beneficiation, and separation technologies with the potential for production, growth, and scalability. Ucore has a 100% ownership stake in the Bokan-Dotson Ridge Rare Earth Element Project in Southeast Alaska, USA. Ucore's vision and plan is to become a leading advanced technology company, providing best-in-class metal separation products and services to the mining and mineral extraction industry.

Through strategic partnerships, Ucore's vision includes disrupting the People's Republic of China's ("PRC") control of the US REE supply chain through the development of a heavy rare-earth processing facility - the Alaska Strategic Metals Complex in Southeast Alaska and the long-term development of Ucore's heavy rare earth element mineral resource property located at Bokan Mountain on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.

Ucore is listed on the TSXV under the trading symbol "UCU" and in the United States on the OTC Markets' OTCQX® Best Market under the ticker symbol "UURAF".

For further information, please visit www.ucore.com.

Qualified Person

Ronald James (Jim) Robinson, B.Sc., P.Geo., an independent geologist and General Manager of Aurora Geosciences (Alaska) Ltd. of Juneau, Alaska, has prepared the technical data provided in this news release and is the qualified person responsible for its accuracy.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release includes certain statements that may be deemed "forward-looking statements" regarding, among other things, the Company's ALASKA2023 Business Plan as well as the upcoming prospective financing activities involving the Company and AIDEA. All statements in this release (other than statements of historical facts) that address future business development, technological development and/or acquisition activities (including any related required financings), timelines, litigation outcomes, events, or developments that the Company expects, are forward-looking statements. Although the Company believes the expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are not guarantees of future performance or results and actual results or developments may differ materially from those in forward-looking statements. In regard to the disclosure in the "About Ucore Rare Metals Inc." section above, the Company has assumed that it will be able to procure or retain additional partners and/or suppliers, in addition to IMC, as suppliers for Ucore's expected future Alaska Strategic Metals Complex ("Alaska SMC"). Ucore has also assumed that sufficient external funding will be found to prepare a new National Instrument 43-101 ("NI 43-101") technical report that demonstrates that the Bokan Mountain Rare Earth Elements project ("Bokan") is feasible and economically viable for the production of both REE and co-product metals and the then prevailing market prices based upon assumed customer off-take agreements. Ucore has also assumed that sufficient external funding will be secured to develop the specific engineering plans for the Alaska SMC and its construction. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward-looking statements include, without limitation: Innovation Metals Corp. ("IMC") failing to protect its intellectual property rights in RapidSX™; RapidSX failing to demonstrate commercial viability in large commercial-scale applications; Ucore not being able to procure additional key partners or suppliers for the Alaska SMC; Ucore not being able to raise sufficient funds to fund the specific design and construction of the Alaska SMC and/or the continued development of RapidSX; adverse capital-market conditions; unexpected due-diligence findings; the emergence of alternative superior metallurgy and metal-separation technologies; the inability of Ucore and/or IMC to retain its key staff members; a change in the legislation in Alaska and/or in the support expressed by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority ("AIDEA") regarding the development of Bokan and/or the Alaska SMC; the availability and procurement of any required interim and/or long-term financing that may be required; and general economic, market or business conditions.

Neither the TSXV nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined by the TSXV) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

CONTACT

Mark MacDonald
Vice President, Investor Relations
Ucore Rare Metals Inc.
902.482.5214
mark@ucore.com

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Trading resumes in: Company: Ucore Rare Metals Inc. TSX-Venture Symbol: UCU All Issues: Yes Resumption : 10:00 AM IIROC can make a decision to impose a temporary suspension of trading in a security of a publicly-listed company. Trading halts are implemented to ensure a fair and orderly market. IIROC is the national self-regulatory organization which oversees all investment dealers and trading activity on debt and ...

Trading resumes in:

Company: Ucore Rare Metals Inc.

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HighlightsUcore is developing the Alaska SMC for the processing of rare earth elements in Southeast AlaskaVital Metals is producing rare earth concentrate from its Nechalacho rare earth project in NWT, CanadaVital Metals is constructing a Rare Earth Extraction Plant to produce a mixed rare earth chemical concentrate in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan from the Nechalacho depositThe Alaska SMC is planned to commence ...

Highlights

  • Ucore is developing the Alaska SMC for the processing of rare earth elements in Southeast Alaska
  • Vital Metals is producing rare earth concentrate from its Nechalacho rare earth project in NWT, Canada
  • Vital Metals is constructing a Rare Earth Extraction Plant to produce a mixed rare earth chemical concentrate in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan from the Nechalacho deposit
  • The Alaska SMC is planned to commence production of up to 2000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of individual rare earth oxides from US-allied feedstock by H1-2024
  • Vital Metals is expected to commence the supply of a minimum of 500 tpa of a cerium depleted concentrate to Ucore in 2024; expandable to over 2,500 tpa by 2026

Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSXV: UCU) (OTCQX: UURAF) ("Ucore" or the "Company") is pleased to announce the execution of a Memorandum Of Understanding ("MOU") setting forth certain nonbinding understandings and binding agreements between Ucore and Vital Metals Limited (ASX: VML) ("Vital Metals" or "Vital") (collectively the "Parties"). The MOU is the first step towards the establishment of a long-term supply agreement for the delivery of mixed rare earth chemical concentrate ("MREC") from Vital Metals' Nechalacho project to Ucore's planned Alaska Strategic Metals Complex ("Alasks SMC") in Ketchikan, Alaska. The MREC will be shipped from Vital's Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Rare Earth Extraction Plant which is expected to enter into production in 2022.

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