"The rare earth market recovered slightly in the two months when production ... was suspended. But there has been no fundamental turnaround," the company said.The firm originally halted production at some of its smelting and separation operations in an effort to stabilize slumping prices. In November it extended its halt for one more month. While some feel that the halt is having a positive effect, a number of critics believe the company's production stoppage is unlikely to improve the market. Market round-up China's REE market weakened during the last week of 2012, with little actual business concluded and prices for many REEs softening, according to a report by Metal-Pages. Although purchase-amount details and prices for the second round of national REE stockpile buying were reported, market traders stated that the latest round of buying brought little improvement to the market. A number of players commented that purchase amounts are much lower than current domestic stocks, and coupled with slack consumer buying, the domestic market is currently oversupplied. Praseodymium/neodymium metal prices fell last week. Small deals for the 99-percent rare earth metal have been taken at $60,920/tonne and lower prices of about $59,500/tonne are also being seen in the market. The market for high-purity lanthanum oxide is still lacking demand, and little business has been reported. Some suppliers have lowered offer prices for lanthanum oxide to $14,428/tonne, while lower prices of $12,825/tonne have also been reported. Little improvement has been seen in China's cerium oxide market. Suppliers reported that domestic demand is slack and said they have held prices for 99- to 99.9-percent cerium oxide at $7,214/tonne. Company news Great American Energy (OTCBB:SRBL) entered into an option agreement to acquire an undivided 60-percent interest in the Bear Creek REE property. The Bear Creek property is said to contain potential for significant resources of REEs. Samples collected from 32 locations on the property provided indications of four elements as major potential contributors to value: scandium (4 g/t), neodymium (33 g/t), samarium (6 g/t) and europium (1.78 g/t).
Great American Energy's CEO, Felipe Pimienta, commented, "[w]ith China controlling about 90% of the rare earth elements currently being consumed worldwide, the Bear Creek Property represents the potential to develop a greatly needed North American supply of REEs.”The option must be exercised on or before April 30, 2015, according to the terms of the agreement. To exercise the option, the company must make a series of scheduled cash payments and fund mineral exploration work on the property totaling an agreed upon dollar amount no later than this deadline. Texas Rare Earth Resources (OTCQB:TRER), a heavy REE exploration and development company, is initiating baseline air quality monitoring at its Round Top project in anticipation of permitting future operations. The company noted that the initiation of the air quality baseline study is in line with its strategy to maximize the value of all the assets present at the project, including the historical beryllium and potential uranium resource. In addition to REEs, the Round Top property contains a historical beryllium resource. It is believed that uranium is also a potential asset at Round Top as it occurs both as an accessory in low-grade, REE-bearing rhyolite that may be coproduced with the REEs as well as in unexplored higher-grade deposits that are geologically associated with the beryllium below the rhyolite. Securities Disclosure: I, Adam Currie, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article. Related reading: More Chinese Firms Halt Rare Earth Operations South Korea Reduces Dependence on Chinese Rare Earths from Rare Earth Investing News