Littleton, Colorado – Rare Element Resources Ltd. (the “Company” or “RER”) (OTCQB: REEMF) is pleased to announce the completion of the funding agreement for the previously announced $4.4 million grant from the Wyoming Energy Authority (the “WEA”). The WEA grant is a cost reimbursement award for future expenditures related to construction of the Company’s rare earth processing and separation demonstration plant to be located in Upton, Wyoming. The plant is also supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (the “DOE”) through a previously announced $21.9 million financial award. The funding provided through the DOE and WEA programs is expected to cover more than half of the estimated project costs.
In further support of the rare earth industry in Wyoming, earlier this year, Governor Mark Gordon signed a bill into law to advance the process for Wyoming to assume certain licensing and regulatory aspects of the rare earth industry. The unanimously approved bill seeks to amend the existing agreement state status between the state and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (the “NRC”) to allow Wyoming the permitting and regulatory authority related to rare earth element source materials. Once approved by the NRC, Wyoming will have primacy for the NRC’s licensing of Wyoming-based rare earth processing facilities.
“We are very pleased with the many affirmative steps that the state of Wyoming is taking in support of the rare earth industry and the Company. The Bear Lodge Project has one of the highest-grade rare earth deposits in North America, and its location positions Wyoming to be a key player in developing a domestic rare earth supply chain,” Brent Berg, President and CEO of RER, stated. “Construction of the demonstration plant is the next step in advancing the Company’s innovative recovery and separation technology, developed with our world-class technology partner, General Atomics. The plant will provide data critical for the design of a commercial facility. The state’s legislative initiative will have licensing efficiency benefits for commercial-scale rare earth operations. We applaud Wyoming’s forward thinking and goal of economic diversification and appreciate its ongoing support of the rare earth industry and the Company.”
The rare earth processing and separation demonstration plant project, led by General Atomics, has completed the final design and is progressing licensing and permitting, with the final significant license expected this summer. Procurement of equipment has been underway for the last several months. The total 40-month timeline, which commenced in October 2021, includes commencement of construction in the second half of 2023 with operations expected to start in mid-2024.
“Rare earth elements are of the utmost importance to our country’s energy security and something we must continue to advance in order to achieve equal footing in this global market,” said Rob Creager, Executive Director of the Wyoming Energy Authority. “Wyoming has an opportunity to be a leader in providing these critical resources to our country. We are committed to the continued support of projects like these that will propel not only our own communities but our entire nation forward.”
The demonstration plant will utilize the Company’s proprietary recovery and separation technology and is expected to produce high-purity neodymium/praseodymium (Nd/Pr) oxide that is key in producing high-strength permanent magnets. These magnets are the driving technology in numerous defense, medical and green technologies, including the manufacture of electric vehicles and wind turbines. Data generated from the demonstration plant will be used in the design and completion of an economic evaluation for a full-size commercial plant and Bear Lodge Project, as well as validate the cost and environmental benefits of the process over traditional recovery methods.