TMR produces independent market intelligence and analysis on the rare earths, graphite and other critical and strategic materials. We provide research management, due-diligence and advisory services to public and private companies, institutional investors, government agencies and other market-intelligence firms. We focus on the challenges and opportunities associated with these materials.

TMR Awarded $1.2M US Department of Defense Project for the Evaluation of New Processes and Sources for the US Rare Earth Supply Chain

by Admin June 4, 2014

CARPENTERSVILLE, IL – June 4, 2014 – A team led by Technology Metals Research, LLC (TMR) has been awarded $1.2M in funding from the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL), part of the US Department of Defense (DOD), via a subaward agreement with Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

The project, involving a dozen companies and research institutions in the United States, Canada and Australia, will focus on the development of the key components for a domestic rare-earth supply chain, for heavy and other critical rare-earth elements (REEs).

REEs are vital ingredients in many high-tech components used in defense, industrial and green-energy applications. In recent years the REE sector has been dominated by China, which provides approximately 90% of global supply. The heavy REEs dysprosium and yttrium were recently mandated for inclusion in the DOD’s National Defense Stockpile, despite not presently being produced in the USA, from US-based sources.

Project partners include Innovation Metals Corp. (IMC) and researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of South Australia and the ARL itself. A number of ‘stealth-mode’ companies and researchers with promising new technologies will also participate in the program.

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April 2014 Updates To The TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index

by Gareth Hatch May 19, 2014

I recently updated the TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index, to reflect various project updates since the last edition. The effective date of the latest edition is May 16, 2014. The specifics: On September 2, 2013, Galileo Resources PLC (AIM:GLR) announced (in a summary of its audited results for the year ending March 31, 2013) that […]

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A Visit To The Texas Rare Earth Resources Round Top Project

by Gareth Hatch May 19, 2014

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to visit Round Top, the rare-earth-element (REE) project being developed by Texas Rare Earth Resources Corp. (OTCQX:TRER). While in the Lone Star State I also paid a visit to the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), where much of the processing and analysis work on the project has been undertaken.

The project is located in Hudspeth County in the far west of Texas, USA, approximately 85 miles southeast of the city of El Paso. The nearest town is Sierra Blanca, 8 miles to the southeast of the deposit, with a population of around 560 people and where Texas Rare Earth Resources (TRER) has an office. The border with Mexico is nearby, some 10 miles to the south.

Round Top is one of five peaks that make up the Sierra Blanca range, the others being Triple Hill, Sierra Blanca Peak, Little Blanca and Little Round Top. According to TRER’s most recent Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) report (published in December 2013), these peaks are rhyolite laccoliths – intrusions of magma that have welled up between layers of Cretaceous sedimentary rock to formed domed structures. The topmost layer of sedimentary rock has eroded over time, resulting in the present exposed rhyolite formations.

The deposit is just 3 miles north of I-10, the interstate highway that starts in Santa Monica, California in the west and which finishes in Jacksonville, Florida in the east, passing through El Paso, San Antonio and Houston in Texas along the way. Round Top is therefore highly accessible by road. Sierra Blanca sits at the intersection of two branches of the Union Pacific railroad. There is an active rail spur that terminates less than three miles from the base of Round Top Mountain, serving a local company, RCL Rock, which mines an average of 6,000 t / day of similar rhyolite for railroad ballast.

My hosts for the visit were Dan Gorski, CEO and director of TRER, and Tony Marchese, chairman of the company’s board of directors.

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March 2014 Updates To The TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index

by Gareth Hatch April 6, 2014

There were no additions or project updates to the TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index since the last edition. I did update the pricing used in the Index data, to reflect the average monthly prices for March 2014, as reported by Metal Pages. The effective date of the latest edition is April 5, 2014. I have […]

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The WTO Panel Report On Chinese Rare Earth Exports

by Gareth Hatch April 3, 2014

Introduction

On March 26, 2014, the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued its long-awaited findings in response to formal complaints made by the United States (USA), the European Union (EU) and Japan (collectively the Complainants), concerning China’s approach to the exports of rare-earth elements (REEs), tungsten (W) and molybdenum (Mo).

The 257-page document, combining the individual sets of findings for each Complainant (the Report), was completed by a three-person Panel of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB). It is an exhaustive evaluation of the measures that China has put in place to regulate the export of these materials, and follows a two-year investigation by the WTO into the complaints made.

My March 2012 article on the initiation of the WTO actions, reviewed the details of the initial complaints, and the mechanism behind the WTO dispute process, including the DSB. In it I suggested the potential arguments that China might make to defend its export measures, using certain exceptions to the WTO rules, and the potential consequences of various outcomes.

In the following article, I will review the main findings of the DSB Panel, the basis for their determinations, and the key takeaway points from the Report. We’ll also look at what China’s next moves might be, and the potential consequences for REE supply and pricing. I’ll also highlight the ongoing key advantage that the Chinese downstream REE supply chain has over other countries, even in light of the recent WTO findings.

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March 2014 Updates To The TMR Advanced Graphite Projects Index

by Gareth Hatch April 1, 2014

I recently updated the TMR Advanced Graphite Projects Index, to reflect three new and two updated mineral-resource estimates, announced since the last update. The effective date of the updates is April 1, 2014. The specifics: A September 2012 report prepared for a subsidiary of StratMin Global Resources plc (AIM:STGR), details a JORC-compliant resource estimate for […]

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Going Natural: The Solution To Tesla’s Graphite Problem

by Gareth Hatch March 25, 2014

On February 26, 2014, Tesla Motors Inc. (NDQ:TSLA) announced details of its long-awaited “gigafactory”, an ambitious plan to build a facility to manufacture lithium-ion batteries in large-enough quantities to meet the needs of the 500,000 electric vehicles (EVs) that the company plans to produce in 2020. Tesla proposes to build this facility somewhere in the southwest United States, in reasonable proximity to its California-based vehicle assembly plant.

Tesla’s plans call for the creation of 35 GWh/year of production capacity for its third-generation Model E vehicle, implying an average 70 kWh of storage capacity per vehicle. The plan calls for an additional 15 GWh/year of production capacity, presumably to meet the needs of additional ventures with which Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk is involved.

In addition to the significant quantities of lithium, cobalt and other metals that the batteries from this proposed facility will require, even greater quantities of graphite will be needed to produce the anodes that are used in these batteries.

It is obviously early days for the gigafactory initiative, and a number of important details have yet to emerge. There is certainly no guarantee that Tesla will actually move forward with the project, or that it might not morph into some other form. Nonetheless, it is important that the supply chain gets itself ready to participate.

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February 2014 Updates To The TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index

by Gareth Hatch March 14, 2014

I recently updated the TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index, to reflect a project update since the last edition. The effective date of the latest edition is March 7, 2014. The specifics: On February 26, 2014, Northern Minerals Limited (ASX:NTU) announced an updated JORC-compliant mineral-resource estimate for the Browns Range project in Australia. According to the […]

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Fuel Cell Vehicles And Critical Metals: Supply And Demand

by Jack Lifton March 5, 2014

It is fuel-cell-vehicle (FCV) season again as many of the world’s premier car makers make their annual ritual announcement that they are ‘studying’ or putting into ‘limited production’ passenger-carrying vehicles for personal use (i.e. cars), propelled by electricity generated by ‘fuel cells.’

Once again, the perception of greeniosity is meant to trick us into thinking that the fundamental laws of economics have been suspended.

As far as I can determine, the electricity for FCVs will be generated when diatomic hydrogen molecules are split into hydrogen ions and free electrons, by the action of passing the hydrogen over a catalyst. This previous sentence is totally intelligible to a chemical engineer with the only undefined word in it being ‘catalyst.’

As far as I know the only such ‘practical’ catalysts known for such a reaction are the platinum-group metals (PGMs), primarily the metal palladium (Pd). There has been a lot of research over the last 20 years on trying to produce a fuel-cell chemistry based on a more readily available catalyst than a PGM but the results have not been economical. One such program backed by no less than Kleiner Perkins is for a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC), which uses the extremely scarce rare-earth-element (REE) related metal scandium (Sc) in its catalyst.

The thing that all current fuel-cell technologies have in common, is that they rely for their operation on large amounts of very scarce materials such as PGMs or Sc, as in the discussion above.

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January 2014 Updates To The TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index

by Gareth Hatch February 14, 2014

I recently updated the TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index, to reflect a project-related announcement since the last edition. The effective date of the latest edition is February 7, 2014. The specifics: On January 24, 2014, Star Minerals Group Ltd. (CNSX:SUV) announced the finalizing of a Joint Venture Agreement with Great Western Minerals Group Ltd. (TSX.V:GWG, […]

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