Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSXV: UCU) (OTCQX: UURAF) ("Ucore" or the "Company") is pleased to comment on the recent increasing interest in uranium as an energy source and also current interest in Ucore's not-often-mentioned Ross-Adams mine property (the "Mine"), a former producing uranium mine located on the Ross-Adams portion of Ucore's Alaskan mineral property (the "Property"). The Property is located on Prince of Wales Island, approximately 38 miles southwest of Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, near the west arm of Kendrick Bay (within the Bokan Mountain Complex). At its closest point, the edge of the former Mine is located more than 500 m from Ucore's Bokan-Dotson Ridge Zone, which is Ucore's rare earth elements ("REEs") advanced property mineral resource as described in the Company's technical report (a preliminary economic assessment[i] ("PEA")) that was filed on SEDAR on March 14, 2013.
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Historical uranium production occurred at the Mine from 1957 until 1971, with an estimated total of 1.3 million lbs of U3O8 produced. Although Ucore has performed no work at the Mine to date, the Company believes the Ross-Adams Zone may have the potential for the re-activation of mining production for uranium due to: (i) the recent price increases for uranium; (ii) geopolitical concerns regarding the security of supply chains and an emphasis on US domestic and allied sources of critical materials; and (iii) a recent increase in the public's perception that uranium and nuclear power can represent an excellent strategic choice for energy production in the present and coming decades as compared to fossil fuels. As a result of this recent interest in uranium, Ucore has been fielding unsolicited enquires with respect to the former Ross-Adams Mine.
Nevertheless, Ucore remains committed to its current business plan -- the development of an independent and comprehensive North American REE supply chain. This plan was recently detailed in the Company's press release dated January 20, 2022. The Company's business plan currently prioritizes the commercialization of Innovation Metals Corp.'s ("IMC") RapidSX™ REE separation technology and the development of the first modern commercial-scale rare earth separation plant in North America, the Strategic Metals Complex ("SMC"). The advancement of this REE supply chain remains Ucore's primary objective.
However, due to the recent enquiries about the status and availability of Ucore's uranium asset, the Company is pleased to provide the following information regarding its Ross-Adams property. Although Ucore will continue to consider potential transactions with respect to the former Mine, when Ucore is reviewing such proposals, the Company will be prioritizing: (i) its own REE business plan; (ii) ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) objectives; and (iii) the Company's stakeholders, including the United States Forest Service ("USFS"), the State of Alaska, Alaska Natives, Alaska residents, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority ("AIDEA"), and the Company's shareholders.
The Nature of Ucore's Interest in the Property
Ucore acquired the Property pursuant to a series of option and purchase agreements, together with Ucore's own mineral-claim staking activities in 2006 and 2007. Due to recent inbound enquiries, the Company is exploring the possibility of a transaction involving only the Ross-Adams Zone,leaving the Company's Bokan-Dotson Ridge Heavy REE Project intact and the approximately seven other historical mineralization zones unaffected.
The History of the Mine
The Ross-Adams uranium deposit was discovered in 1955 by prospectors Don Ross and Kelly Adams using airborne radiometrics. According to US Bureau of Mines records[ii], a total of 1.3 million pounds of uranium were produced at an average grade of 0.76% U3O8 during three separate production periods between 1957 and 1971 as follows:
|Grade % of |
|lbs of U3O8 |
Table 1 - Historical Activity at the Former Ross-Adams Uranium Mine
The cut-off grade has been reported at 0.5% U3O8. Production was terminated each time when sales contracts with the US Atomic Energy Commission were fulfilled. Uranium ore from the Mine was mined from a steeply dipping pipe-like body of uranium with a combination of a small open pit mine (which looks like a trench) and an underground mine with two underground levels. While the uranium pipe (or vein) is known to extend below the lowest production level, the pipe has not yet been fully geologically explored in detail. The Ross-Adams deposit is interpreted by Ucore to remain open at depth.
The Property is located adjacent to deep water access. As a result, during the past operation of the Mine, no processing of the uranium ore into U3O8 took place on the Bokan Mountain property. Rather, the uranium ore from the Mine was shipped by barge for beneficiation and processing off-site at several locations in Spokane, Washington and Mexican Hat, Utah, USA. As a result, there is no former tailings facility on the Property.
However, some important environmental reclamation work is required on the Property. This is limited to the consolidation of some mine rock on the surface and any remaining previously mined material that exists in secondary transit areas. The environmental remediation plan involves depositing those materials into an on-site repository in the open pit portion of the Mine. In 2020, an agreement was reached between the United States Forest Service ("USFS"), Newmont USA Limited ("Newmont") and Dawn Mining Company ("Dawn") regarding this required environmental clean-up of the Property. Newmont and Dawn (who had past interests in the Mine) have assumed responsibility for the USD$7-million on-site environmental reclamation project and are currently coordinating this work through the USFS. Other remnants of past mining operations will also be removed by Newmont and Dawn.
Ucore has performed no exploration or development work at the Ross-Adams Zone. The Company's mineral exploration and development work to date has primarily involved Ucore's Bokan-Dotson Ridge Zone, which comprises the entirety of Ucore's REE mineral resource at the Bokan Mountain Complex. The Company does not have any current mineral resources or mineral reserves regarding uranium at the Ross-Adams Zone. The Company has not published any historical estimates regarding the mineral resources or mineral reserves that may be available at the former Mine.
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Ronald James (Jim) Robinson, B.Sc., P.Geo., an independent geologist and General Manager of Aurora Geosciences (Alaska) Ltd. of Juneau, Alaska, has prepared, reviewed and approved the technical data in this news release. He is the qualified person responsible for accurately summarizing this data from historic technical and production reports.
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 an effective 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 control of the US REE supply chain through the near-term development of a heavy and light 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.
For further information, please visit www.ucore.com.
This press release includes certain statements that may be deemed "forward-looking statements." All statements in this release (other than statements of historical facts) that address future exploration drilling, exploration activities, mine re-opening, property transactions and 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. The historic mineral production estimates described in this press release do not represent estimates of mineral resources or mineral reserves that may be present at the Property, and there is no assurance that any current uranium resources or reserves may be present at the Property. Uranium prices are subject to fluctuation, and a decrease in the price of uranium could drastically impact the likelihood of the Company entering into any potential transaction with respect to the former Ross-Adams Uranium Mine.
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 Innovation Metals Corp. ("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 offtake 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: 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) accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
Vice President, Investor Relations
Ucore Rare Metals Inc.
[i]A PEA is preliminary in nature; it includes inferred mineral resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves, and there is no certainty that the PEA will be realized.
[ii]Warner, J.D. and Barker, J.C., 1989: Columbium and rare earth-bearing deposits at Bokan Mountain, Southeast Alaska. United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, Open File Report 33-89
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