Ucore Rare Metals (TSXV:UCU), a junior explorer looking for rare earth deposits in North America, is aiming to commence production at its Bokan project in Alaska by 2016, according to local media reports.
Citing a Ketchikan Daily News article, Metal-Pages reported that Ucore, which is focused primarily on its Bokan-Dotson Ridge rare earth element (REE) property, plans to commence construction of the mine by 2014, contingent upon obtaining the necessary permits, before beginning operation two years later. In November 2012, Ucore released a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for the project. It shows a before-tax net present value of $577 million and an internal rate of return of 43 percent — impressive economics in a struggling market environment. In July of last year, the company's CEO, Jim McKenzie, told Rare Earth Investing News that Bokan Mountain is the largest NI 43-101 compliant heavy REE resource on United States soil; as a result, it has enormous strategic implications for the US, especially given that heavy REEs are the backbone of some of the technologies that are most important to the country's economic future (for instance, transportation, clean energy, defense systems and medical science). He added that the project could help challenge China's domination of the market. "We view the rare-earth space as a sort of race … Obviously China is withdrawing product from international markets fairly aggressively, and the US needs this product," Metal-Pages quoted McKenzie as saying. The Bokan property is enriched with heavy REEs, including dysprosium, terbium and yttrium, according to the company's PEA. Outlook for rare earth juniors At the 2013 Vancouver Resource Investment Conference, John Kaiser of Kaiser Research gave Rare Earth Investing News his take on which — and how many — rare earth juniors are likely to succeed. He noted that companies focused on heavy REEs have a better chance of survival, commenting that Quest Rare Minerals (TSX:QRM,AMEX:QRM) and Tasman Metals (TSXV:TSM,AMEX:TAS) both have a good chance at success.