December 2011 Updates To The TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index

by Gareth Hatch on December 17, 2011 · 13 comments

in Rare Earths, Tools & Metrics

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I have just updated the list of projects on the TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index, to reflect a new rare-earth mineral resource estimate that was announced recently. I also made some other updates. The specifics:

  • Rare Earth Metals Inc. (TSX.V:RA, OTCQX:RAREF) announced an NI-43-101-compliant mineral-resource estimate for its Two Tom project in Canada, on December 13, 2011. According to the associated press release, 40.635 Mt of the resource is at the Inferred level @ 1.18 wt% TREO (at a cut-off grade of 0.6 wt%).
  • I have also updated the pricing used in the Index data, to reflect the average monthly prices for November 2011 and the moving three-year average price for separated rare-earth oxides.
  • Tasman Metals Ltd. (TSX.V:TSM, AMEX:TAS) is now listed on the NYSE Amex Exchange.
  • Matamec Explorations Inc (TSX.V:MAT, OCTQX:MRHEF) is now trading on the OTCQX. In addition, the Matamec project previously referred to as Zeus / Kipawa, is now referred to simply as Kipawa.
  • Reference to Korea Resources Corp., with regard to the Wigu Hill project owned by Montero Mining & Exploration Ltd. (TSX.V:MON) has been removed, since the extent of involvement at present is a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding.

Since the last update, three other companies have announced new NI-43-101- or JORC-compliant mineral-resource estimates for their respective projects: AusAmerican Mining Corporation NL (ASX:AIW) with their La Paz project in the USA, MBAC Fertilizer Corp. (TSX:MBC, OTCQX:MBCFF) with their Araxa project in Brazil and Southern Crown Resources Limited (ASX:SWR) with their Xiluvo project in Mozambique. I am in the process of verifying the associated data for these announcements and will report on them in the near future.

FYI, TMR is now tracking a total of 400 rare-earth projects under development associated with 246 different companies in 35 different countries.

You can access the updated details via the Index page.

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1 Paul Gubbens December 18, 2011 at 6:23 am

Dear Gareth
Since I have worked 40 years with Rare Earth, I am very interested in the writings of you and Jack Lifton and read them constantly. I praise the good investigations, which you and Jack are performing. I have send your World Report send to Gert Jan Gerbrandy, member of te Europian Parliament. He told that he was glad to receive it and considered it very informative and valuable. I have a small remark. In permanent magnets Terbium is even better than Dysprosium. Dysprosium is used, because it is more available.
With kind greetings Paul Gubbens

2 Gareth Hatch December 18, 2011 at 10:12 am

@Paul Gubbens: thanks for your comments. I would agree that terbium (Tb) additions are more effective than dysprosium (Dy) for improving the coercivity (resistance to demagnetization) of neodymium-based magnets. Not only is Tb less available than Dy (and significantly so), it has historically been much more expensive than Dy, and of course unlike Dy, Tb has significant demand in the production of phosphor materials.

3 Toly December 18, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Hi Gareth, along these same lines, what is your opinion on Holmium. I have read in numerous places that Holmium has the greatest magnetic strength of any element. Do you think it may see widespread use in perm magnetic motors (albeit expensive ones)?

thanx for your opinion,

jay

4 Gareth Hatch December 18, 2011 at 7:51 pm

@Toly: while holmium (Ho) does have a high magnetic moment, it’s only a fraction higher than that of dysprosium (Dy) or even erbium (Er). The existence of a high magnetic moment alone does not lead to the formation of good permanent magnet materials. In fact, just like Dy and other heavy rare earths, when alloyed, the magnetism of Ho atoms acts to partially cancel out the useful magnetism of transition metals such as iron (Fe) or cobalt (Co).

This is the reason why when Dy is added to neodymium-based magnets, the strength of the magnet actually goes DOWN with increased Dy. We add the Dy to improve the ability of the magnet to resist being demagnetized (known as the coercivity). Increased temperature is a common source of such demagnetizing effects. Incidentally, this increased resistance is NOT as a result of increasing the Curie temperature of the magnet – a common misunderstanding of the role of Dy in these magnets (if you really want to know, increased coercivity comes from increasing the anisotropy field for the magnet, which makes it harder for the N-S orientation of the magnet to get “flipped”).

So no – you won’t see Ho-based permanent magnets, just like you won’t see Dy- or Tb-based permanent magnets, because they simply wouldn’t work. It’s a shame that in their misguided efforts to demonstrate that every rare-earth element is useful, a lot of folks in our sector (and I’m not referring to you, Toly!) love to simply regurgitate excerpts from Wikipedia willy nilly, without understanding any of this… the fact of the matter is that some rare earths are more useful, in practical, everyday terms, than others.

5 Rahul Jalan December 19, 2011 at 6:31 am

Hi Gareth

Do you agree that the recent announcement from China’s ministry to ban the export quota of Baotou Steel, which produces 50% of world’s rare earth currently, will lead to huge spike in prices of LRE’s and severe supply shortage. Moreover, i don’t buy the reason being environmental concerns, as most of the mines operating in china doe not do not follow environmental standards. Recently there was also a news of NdFeB magnets being included in next years mining quota. Do you agree that China is trying to put pressure on consumers to relocate their facilities to China.?

6 Carlos Braga December 19, 2011 at 7:16 am

Dear Gareth,

MBAC has made public information on our Araxa Project in Brazil with about 2.7 million tonnes of resources (43.101 compliant) at 8.4% TREO on December 6th. When can we expect our project to be included in your Project Index?

Thank you,
Carlos Braga

7 Gary Sutton December 19, 2011 at 9:17 am

Dear Gareth,
I realize that “We add the Dy to improve the ability of the magnet to resist being demagnetized (known as the coercivity).” However, you would it be beneficial and cost effective to create a magnet that has higher Br with a low coercivity? In this way, it would be a more powerful ALNICO magnet without the added cost of Dy.
Thank you,
Gary Sutton

8 Gareth Hatch December 19, 2011 at 12:55 pm

@Rahul Jalan: I don’t agree that the news about Baotou will necessarily lead to a “huge spike in prices” of light rare earths, or a “severe supply shortage”. It all depends on how much capacity is available elsewhere in the rare-earths industry in China (some estimates are that the total including Baotou is 200-250 ktpa – much higher than is needed, even excluding Baotou), and whether or not this is simply an issue of paperwork not being filed on time. Furthermore, I expect that there will be a reduction in export quotas anyway in 2012, simply because consumers outside of China are not using them.

I disagree that the issue of environmental standards is not a genuine factor in the decisions being made about the industry in China. While I don’t buy the connection between those standards, and export licenses (they should of course be applied across all producers, and for all production), there are many indications that China is serious about implementing stricter pollution standards.

As for the inclusion of Nd-Fe-B magnet alloys in next year’s export (not mining) quotas – I’ve heard folks talking about this too, but I’d be very surprised if that happened.

@ Carlos Braga: as stated above in the article, I am in the process of verifying the associated data for the Araxa project, as well as others, and will report on them in the near future.

@ Gary Sutton: you can already get grades of Nd-Fe-B magnets with higher Br (magnet strength) and lower coercivity. As you alluded to, you can also get significant Br values from older materials such as the Alnico family. Usage of specific materials depends on the design of the device into which you are placing the magnets, and whether or not there are potential stray magnetic fields from adjacent magnets or other devices, if there will be heating etc. As a rough rule of thumb, the longer and skinnier a magnet is (with the N-S orientation parallel to the long axis of the magnet), the better the magnet will resist demagnetization, but that might not be a convenient shape for a given application. In motor designs, for example, the shape is quite the opposite – the magnetic orientation is typically through the thinnest dimension. It’s definitely a case-by-case situation, determined by the magnetic circuit designer.

9 iamwhatiam December 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I rarely hear anything about Alkane Resources, which is an Australian mining company that is a lot further along the path to full production of REE’s than most people realize.

Gareth (my middle name by the way), are you familiar with these guys? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, care to check them out?

http://www.alkane.com.au/

Thanks for any feedback.

10 Gareth Hatch December 22, 2011 at 4:12 pm

@iamwhatiam: I had the opportunity to visit Alkane’s pilot plant earlier this year – check out http://www.barnswood.com/tmr/wp/?p=3757 for the details.

11 iamwhatiam December 22, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Great, thank you.

I hate to be a bother, but I feel I must ask; can you think of any reasons not to invest in Alkane stock at current prices?

12 Gareth Hatch December 22, 2011 at 5:05 pm

@iamwhatiam: I don’t give stock tips or investment advice, I’m afraid. What I will say is that I think that Alkane’s Dubbo Zirconia Project has an excellent chance of going into production.

13 iamwhatiam December 22, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Thanks for that take on the DZP’s chances. I’m just looking for any red flags that might hint at viability issues short and long term.

I appreciate your work and I thank you for your time.

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