Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Stock Markets and the History Chart of the End of the World (With Presidential Cycles) - 28th Aug 20
2.Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook... AI Tech Stocks Buying Levels and Valuations Q3 2020 - 31st Aug 20
3.The Inflation Mega-trend is Going Hyper! - 11th Sep 20
4.Is this the End of Capitalism? - 13th Sep 20
5.What's Driving Gold, Silver and What's Next? - 3rd Sep 20
6.QE4EVER! - 9th Sep 20
7.Gold Price Trend Forecast Analysis - Part1 - 7th Sep 20
8.The Fed May “Cause” The Next Stock Market Crash - 3rd Sep 20
9.Bitcoin Price Crash - You Will be Suprised What Happens Next - 7th Sep 20
10.NVIDIA Stock Price Soars on RTX 3000 Cornering the GPU Market for next 2 years! - 3rd Sep 20
Last 7 days
Pausing Stocks and Gold Fireworks - 21st Apr 21
Precious Metals and Miners Start of New Longer-Term Bullish Trend - P2 - 21st Apr 21
Looking For A Mortgage Broker? Here Is How To Hire One - 21st Apr 21
Amazon AMZN Stock PRIMEDAY SALE! Trend Analysis - 20th Apr 21
Stock Market Sentiment Speaks: You May Not Believe My 2021 Targets - 20th Apr 21
Stock Market Phase Two Projection - 20th Apr 21
Are Precious Metals & Miners Starting A New Longer-Term Bullish Trend? - 20th Apr 21
Inflation: First the Gain, Then the Pain… - 20th Apr 21
8 Stock Market Indicators in 1: Here's the Message of the Panic/Euphoria Model - 19th Apr 21
Gold - You Can Win a Battle, but Still Lose the War - 19th Apr 21
Will Interest Rates Rally Further Push Gold Price Down? - 19th Apr 21
Gold Fireworks Doubt the Official Inflation Story - 19th Apr 21
YuanPay Team Discuss The Process Of Crypto Diversification - 19th Apr 21
Central Banks May Ramp Up Gold Buying - 18th Apr 21
How to Get Rid of Driveway Weeds With Just WATER! 6 Months later NO Weeds, Ultimate Killer! - 18th Apr 21
State of the European Markets - DAX, FTSE, CAC, AEX, SMI, IBEX 35, S&P/MIB, Euro Stoxx 50, RTS - 18th Apr 21
Einvestment Fund: What You Need To Know About Investments - 18th Apr 21
Google Alphabet (GOOG) AI Deep Mind Stock Trend Analysis - 17th Apr 21
Stocks and Bonds Inflationary Slingshot - 17th Apr 21
Best Smartphone Selfie Stick Tripod Review by ATUMTEK Works with Samsung Galaxy and Iphone - 17th Apr 21
How to Give Budgie's First Bath | Easy Budgie Bathing and Water Training with Lettuce - 17th Apr 21
Record-breaking Decrease in New Passenger Vehicle Sale in Europe - 17th Apr 21
US Stocks Climb A “Wall Of Worry” To New Highs - 16th Apr 21
Gold’s Singular Role - 16th Apr 21
See what Anatomy of a Bursting Market Bubble looks like - 16th Apr 21
Many Stock Market Sectors Are Primed For Another Breakout Rally – Are You? - 16th Apr 21
What Skyrocketing US Home Prices Say About Inflation - 16th Apr 21
Still a Bullish Fever in Stocks? - 16th Apr 21
Trying to Buy Coinbase Stock on IPO Day - Institutional Investors Freeze out Retail Investors - 15th Apr 21
Stocks or Gold – Which Is in the Catbird Seat? - 15th Apr 21
Time For A Stock Market Melt-Up - 15th Apr 21
Stocks Bull Market Progression Now Shows Base Metal Strength - 15th Apr 21
AI Tech Stocks Buy Ratings, Levels and Valuations - 14th Apr 21
Easy 10% to 15% Overclock for 5600x, 5900x, 5950x Using AMD Ryzen Master Precision Boost Overdrive - 14th Apr 21
The Current Cannabis Sector Rally Is Pointing To Another Breakout - 14th Apr 21
U.S. Dollar Junk Bond Market The Easiest Money in History - 14th Apr 21
The SPY Is Nearing Resistance @ $410… What Is Next? - 14th Apr 21
The Curious Stock Market Staircase Rally - 14th Apr 21
Stocks are Heating Up - 14th Apr 21
Two Methods in Calculating For R&D Tax Credits - 14th Apr 21
Stock Market Minor Correction Due - 13th Apr 21
How to Feed Budgies Cucumbers - Best Vegetables Feeding for the First Time, Parakeet Care UK - 13th Apr 21
Biggest Inflation Threat in 40 Years Looms over Markets - 13th Apr 21
How to Get Rich with the Pareto Distribution - Tesco Example - 13th Apr 21
Litecoin and Bitcoin-Which Is Better? - 13th Apr 21
The Major Advantages Of Getting Your PhD Online - 12th Apr 21
Covid-19 Pandemic Current State for UK, US, Europe, Brazil Vaccinations vs Lockdown's Third Wave - 12th Apr 21
Why These Stock Market Indicators Should Grab Your Full Attention - 12th Apr 21
Rising Debt Means a Weaker US Dollar - 12th Apr 21
Another Gold Stocks Upleg - 12th Apr 21
AMD The ZEN Tech Stock - 12th Apr 21
Overclockers UK Build Quality - Why Glue Fan to CPU Heat sink Instead of Using Supplied Clips? - 12th Apr 21 -
What are the Key Capabilities You Should Look for in Fleet Management Software? - 12th Apr 21
What Is Bitcoin Gold? - 12th Apr 21
UK Covd-19 FREE Lateral Flow Self Testing Kits How Use for the First Time at Home - 10th Apr 21
NVIDIA Stock ARMED and Dangeorus! - 10th Apr 21
The History of Bitcoin Hard Forks - 10th Apr 21
Gold Mining Stocks: A House Built on Shaky Ground - 9th Apr 21
Stock Market On the Verge of a Pullback - 9th Apr 21
What Is Bitcoin Unlimited? - 9th Apr 21
Most Money Managers Gamble With Your Money - 9th Apr 21
Top 5 Evolving Trends For Mobile Casinos - 9th Apr 21
Top 5 AI Tech Stocks Investing 2021 Analysis - 8th Apr 21
Dow Stock Market Trend Forecast 2021 - Crash or Continuing Bull Run? - 8th Apr 21
Don’t Be Fooled by the Stock Market Rally - 8th Apr 21
Gold and Latin: Twin Pillars of Western Rejuvenation - 8th Apr 21
Stronger US Dollar Reacts To Global Market Concerns – Which ETFs Will Benefit? Part II - 8th Apr 21
You're invited: Spot the Next BIG Move in Oil, Gas, Energy ETFs - 8th Apr 21
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr US Dollar is Back - 8th Apr 21
Stock Market New S&P 500 Highs or Metals Rising? - 8th Apr 21
Microsoft AI Azure Cloud Computing Driving Tech Giant Profits - 7th Apr 21
Amazon Tech Stock PRIMEDAY SALE- 7th Apr 21
The US has Metals Problem - Lithium, Graphite, Copper, Nickel Supplies - 7th Apr 21
Yes, the Fed Will Cover Biden’s $4 Trillion Deficit - 7th Apr 21
S&P 500 Fireworks and Gold Going Stronger - 7th Apr 21
Stock Market Perceived Vs. Actual Risks: The Key To Success - 7th Apr 21

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

FIRST ACCESS to Nadeem Walayat’s Analysis and Trend Forecasts

The Real Rare Earth Elements Demand Investment Opportunity

Commodities / Metals & Mining Jul 13, 2011 - 12:28 AM GMT

By: Critical_Metals_Repo

Commodities

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleFinding experienced teams could be elusive in the rush to capitalize on growing demand for heavy rare earth elements. Energy and Scarcity and Outstanding Investments Editor Byron King unearths companies that can deliver the goods along with shareholder value in this exclusive interview with The Critical Metals Report.

The Critical Metals Report: In late June, Takashi Yamanouchi, president of Mazda Motor Corp., said as much as 90% of the world's car engines, including hybrids, will still be gas powered in 20 years. What does that prediction do to the investment thesis that electric vehicles (EVs) will drive the development of rare earth element (REE) deposits?

Byron King: The man from Mazda is giving a variation on the idea that anything that cracks the automotive market will experience soaring demand. Even if you just use a little bit of something in a lot of cars, that adds up to a lot of whatever you're talking about. If you lighten a car by replacing steel with aluminum, that means a boom for aluminum makers. When you add more electronics, it's a boom for electronics makers. So, there's this idea out there that building more cars with batteries will be a great thing for the REE industry.

Now, the Mazda boss is saying 'not necessarily.' He's spraying cold water on those warm expectations for the future of batteries in vehicles. Yamanouchi is making the point that there's still a lot of technological development left in the good-old internal combustion engine and in redesigning cars to get better mileage. This is something that people everywhere ought to ponder—from politicians and policymakers to the single investor—which stocks are best for a short-term trade? Beware the thesis that EVs are driving REE developments. Not so fast. The thing is, though, we use rare earth elements for a lot of things in addition to cars that don't yet exist in great number.

TCMR: But aren't electric vehicle makers considered one of the biggest future uses of REEs? We've seen REE company share prices skyrocket over the last three years, based largely on this expected demand and on the lack of a supply chain outside of China. However, if EVs don't become ubiquitous, one of the main demand drivers for REEs won't exist. Wouldn't that could be a major obstacle in developing these resources?

BK: Well, some companies have benefited from the expectation that they'll sell into the car market, for batteries that haven't been perfected in cars that haven't been designed, and for assembly lines that don't yet exist. That's my way of saying that there's a lot of open road between here and there. EVs are almost a niche industry today and will be a slightly larger niche industry in, say, five years.

But let's get down to the basics of understanding what to look for when investing in REEs. The first thing to understand about REEs is that there are two distinct groups. The light rare earth elements (LREEs) include lanthanum and cerium. Examples of heavy rare earth elements (HREEs) include erbium, terbium and gadolinium. The light rare earths have traditionally sold in the US$5,000–US$10,000 price range. Right now, LREEs are selling for US$150K. For projects already in the pipeline, you could see those US$150K prices kick back down to US$5K or US$10K.

TCMR: Why would that be?

BK: Because lanthanum and cerium, the LREEs, are the most abundant of REEs and tend to dominate most of the production projects on drawing boards, if not in the pipeline. There won't be a lot of big money in the light rare earths going forward. Right now, China is squeezing the world and raking monopoly profits out of what ought to be much lower-cost items. It is acting as a very sophisticated monopolist in that arena.

Going forward, the serious money will be in HREEs, which have a lot of uses other than EVs. For example, yttrium is used in high-temperature refractory products. There's no substitute for yttrium. Without it, you can't make the refractory molds needed to make jet-engine turbine blades. If you can't make jet-engine turbine blades, you don't have jet engines or power turbines. The price points for these HREEs will reflect true scarcity and unalterable demand. People will bite the bullet and pay what they have to in order to get the yttrium.

TCMR: Rare earth juniors comprised a roughly US$2 billion industry a couple of years ago. Today, it's a US$10B industry. Can that growth continue?

BK: I believe that's a fair reflection of the intrinsic value of the overall industry; US$10B might even be low. I think we're going to see major reallocations of capital from company A to company B as people realize which projects are or aren't going to work and which companies will and will not have cash flow.

TCMR: Does this mean investors will start taking their money from company A and putting it into company B, or will there be consolidation?

BK: Both. When people have asked me for my opinion, I've advised management teams to get it while they can, in terms of consolidation, roll ups, takeovers and takeouts. If you're running a small-cap rare earth play, you need to build something that reflects the reality of the REE production chain. A lot of people think that the rare earth space is a mining industry. Actually, it's only a mining industry at the very beginning of the process—when you dig a hole, blast the ore, pull it out of the ground and crush the ore to get a concentrate. That's mining, too. Everything else after the concentration stage is ultra-advanced chemical technology. I used to say that it's more Dow Chemical than it is Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX; NYSE:ABX). Really, with all respect to that fine company in Midland, Michigan, REEs are even more sophisticated than Dow Chemical.

When you get into chemical engineering and the complexities of turning these concentrates into products that people can sell, buy and use, you're dealing with some of the most-complex chemical engineering in the world. The quality assurance for the end product involves inspecting representative samples under a scanning electron microscope. They look at the atomic structure and the crystallography of an oxide molecule to make sure that the electron bonds are at the correct angles.

Look at it another way: If I mine gold out of the ground, I can sell my gold concentrate to hundreds of thousands of buyers. It goes into the world's commerce system, and it will wind up as a gold coin, gold bar, piece of jewelry or piece of electronics.

If I mine a rare earth deposit, I'm pulling minerals out of the ground that might have as many as 17 different exotic elements in them. I have to turn each one of those 17 elements into a highly engineered end product. My end customers will buy that product only if it meets what they call

"four or five nines"—99.99%–99.999% purity–in a particular crystallographic structure. That's why you have to be very careful about thinking the REE space is just a mining play. You can't just go with the company that has the biggest ore body and highest ore grade. It may not be the one with the right chemistry. The biggest ore body may not be the one that makes all the money.

TCMR: Does that mean the juniors will have a difficult time finding people with the expertise needed to develop these deposits?

BK: Perfect question. The answer is, absolutely yes. Developing rare earths the right way requires management teams with every imaginable skill. First, the team needs traditional promotional skills. After it promotes the company's stock, it needs really good science and chemical people, as well as project management and development people. Rare earth miners need relationships all the way down the industrial food chain to the end-use customer.

Back to the gold-mining analogy. Gold miners don't care which jewelry store buys the gold and turns it into a bracelet. When mining REEs, companies need a relationship with the light bulb company that will buy a particular set of rare earths for use as phosphors in their products. They need a relationship with the electronics company that will use its REE in an advanced computer chip or piece of circuitry. It takes a whole other set of managerial skills up and down the food chain, including teams of people from the face of the mine out to the sales reps that interact with the final end users.

TCMR: Most of the juniors operating in the REE sector have market capitalizations below US$1B. The cost of developing projects is often that much or more. Other than through massive dilution, how are these companies going to get the capital to develop these projects?

BK: I believe there will be massive dilution with some companies. Furthermore, it's going to blow back over the whole industry.

The better idea is for companies to team up. The rare earth development companies need to team up with intermediate and end-use companies. That will bring infusions of capital and human skills—the chemists, scientists, engineers, project managers and developers. Companies need to bring in the people and outside money and give them an investment stake, whether it's equity in the company, profit sharing or offtake agreements at different stages of refining and processing.

TCMR: Will we see lots of offtake agreements or juniors doing friendly mergers?

BK: I think we'll see highly detailed offtake agreements. As I said earlier, companies may have 17 different elements in their ore. Not every end user needs every one of those. So, companies wind up having three or four different offtake agreements with various partners, each of whom wants some or all of a particular segment of those 17 elements. They'll have competing interests. At the same time, they'll probably have more lanthanum and cerium than they know what to do with. They might be stockpiling bags of it, hoping somebody else will come along and takes it off their hands.

TCMR: Which companies are ahead of the game, in terms of the specialized chemical-development and finance side of the equation?

BK: The biggest name is Molycorp Inc. (NYSE:MCP), which had an IPO a year ago, priced at around US$14. It's been as high as US$79 and is something like US$53 right now. Molycorp is an established American company with a deposit in California. I think there's still some regulatory risk in operating in California. There are interest groups that would be more than happy to file a lawsuit in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of California to protect some endangered snail or turtle. But, Molycorp, like every company, needs human skills. It hasn't been in the production business in many years, so it needs to develop human skills and redevelop its industrial processes.

TCMR: Didn't Molycorp just buy a processing plant in Estonia?

BK: Yes, a plant that specializes in light rare earths. For years, it processed niobium and tantalum. The Molycorp people will tell you that they bought this plant to get something up and running wherein the company can develop and maintain a production process, along with the human skills needed. So, it's going to be something of a training ground for Molycorp.

Another company that is a household name is Australia-based Lynas Corporation (ASX:LYC) with an ore deposit in Mount Weld, Australia. It's building a plant in Malaysia in an area already filled with oil refineries and chemical plants. Lynas spent a couple of years and something like US$600 million building the new plant, which should now be in a preoperational, punch-list testing mode. However, at the last minute, Lynas is having problems with the Malaysian government over importing ore from Australia, and there are some rumors that Chinese interests are behind that.

TCMR: You once called human capital the "secret sauce" of Stans Energy Corp. (TSX.V:HRE) success.

BK: The human capital angle with Stans Energy is its relationship with a division of the Russian atomic power agency, Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corp. Stans has a super-strong relationship with a group called the Russian Leading Institute for Chemical Technology, or VNIIHT, once the Cyrillic transcription is done.

VNIIHT is an absolute gem of an institution filled with hundreds of people with PhDs in metallurgy and chemical engineering. Its specialty is coming up with useful applications for exotic elements. VNIIHT was founded in 1951 as Secret Laboratory Number 10 in the old days of the USSR. Today, VNIIHT brokers its skills and works as a consultant for international customers.

An institution like VNIIHT is a very strong part of those critical human skills needed in the REE space. Stans' relationship with VNIIHT gives it a leg up on the competition, in terms of the chemistry, engineering and developmental process. Stans and its partner VNIIHT have an inside track in this horserace.

TCMR: Stans started the month of June at US$2 and ended the month at US$1.50. In the June 28 edition of Energy and Scarcity, you called the Stans' selloff a strong buying opportunity and a "chance to capitalize on the mistakes of others." What would those mistakes be?

BK: One big mistake has been to get the capital expenditures wrong. There are some bad numbers floating around the blogosphere that say the capital expenditure for Stans to reactivate and restart a basic REE production line in Kyrgyzstan would be US$500M and more. They're off by about 80%. I think US$100M is a more appropriate estimate—a shockingly low number versus what you hear for Molycorp, Lynas or other players.

The cost difference comes from the fact that Stans controls a Soviet-era mine that has a very strong life ahead of it, as well as former Soviet facilities and equipment. I've seen the equipment up close, and I was immensely impressed. With this trove of equipment and its relationship with VNIIHT, Stans is shaving years and hundreds of millions of dollars off its development cycle.

TCMR: In the June 13 edition of Energy and Scarcity, you wrote about Medallion Resources Ltd. (TSX.V:MDL; OTCQX:MLLOF) plans to buy the monazite tailings from an ilmenite

producer, upgrade the monazite ore into an REE concentrate and sell that concentrate to an array of potential buyers. If it works out, that would propel the company's value into the clouds. Please tell us more about Medallion and its plant.

BK: It's hard for me to say more than that because of confidentiality. The point is that there are operations where monazite sands are considered a waste product. But the monazite sands actually have value.

I mentioned Medallion Resources to readers because I think when something like this monazite sand-play happens, it could be a game-changer for Medallion and for the entire industry. If the sands are brought up to a concentrated level, even if not to the high-end part of the value chain, monazite sands could find buyers in Japan, Korea or China. That's how bad the world needs the basic product.

TCMR: China controls upwards of 95% of the global supply of rare earths. But there are roughly 150 REE projects being developed throughout the rest of the world. What are some of your favorites?

BK: Two that I've been following in the U.S. are Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSX.V:UCU; OTCQX:UURAF) and Rare Element Resources Ltd. (TSX:RES; NYSE.A:REE).

Ucore has the Bokan Mountain project in the panhandle of Alaska, near Ketchikan. This is an old, permitted uranium mine with roads and a certain amount of infrastructure. It's very mineable in a small-scale way, but it's rich in heavy rare earth elements. Being in Alaska, it's a U.S.-jurisdiction project and it's very doable. I would really like to see more development along those lines. I'd like to see the Bokan Mountain mine come into play.

Rare Element Resources has an intriguing REE play going on in the Black Hills uplift area of Bear Lodge, Wyoming. Rare Element is still drilling and doing basic chemistry. It would take a lot of development to turn Bear Lodge into a mine that produces concentrate for processing into a final product. But, again, it's a U.S.-jurisdiction play with a lot of potential.

TCMR: Do you have some tips for investors looking to play the REE sector?

BK: My strongest recommendation for the near and medium term would be Stans Energy. No disrespect to any other companies, but I think Stans has the best prospects to move quickly and solidly in the near and medium term.

TCMR: Byron, thank you for your time and insights.

Byron King is the editor of Outstanding Investments and Energy & Scarcity Investor. These publications reach more than 60,000 paid subscribers. He is also a contributor to the Daily Resource Hunter. Byron is a Harvard-trained geologist who has traveled to every U.S. state and territory and six of the seven continents. He has conducted site visits to mineral deposits in 26 countries and deepwater oil fields in five oceans. This provides him with a unique perspective on myriad investment opportunities in energy and mineral exploration. Byron has been interviewed by dozens of major print and broadcast media outlets, including Financial Times, Guardian, Washington Post, MSN Money, MarketWatch, Fox Business News and PBS NewsHour.

Want to read more exclusive Critical Metals Report interviews like this? Sign up for our free e-newsletter, and you'll learn when new articles have been published. To see a list of recent interviews with industry analysts and commentators and learn more about critical metals companies, visit our Critical Metals Report page.
DISCLOSURE:
1) Brian Sylvester of The Gold Report conducted this interview. He personally and/or his family own the following companies mentioned in this interview: None.
2) The following companies mentioned in the interview are sponsors of The Gold Report: Timmins.
3) Ian Gordon: I personally and/or my family own shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview:Timmins Gold, Golden Goliath, Millrock and Lincoln. My company, Long Wave Analytics is receiving payment from the following companies mentioned in this interview, for receiving mention on my website, Golden Goliath, Millrock and Lincoln Gold.

The GOLD Report is Copyright © 2011 by Streetwise Inc. All rights are reserved. Streetwise Inc. hereby grants an unrestricted license to use or disseminate this copyrighted material only in whole (and always including this disclaimer), but never in part. The GOLD Report does not render investment advice and does not endorse or recommend the business, products, services or securities of any company mentioned in this report. From time to time, Streetwise Inc. directors, officers, employees or members of their families, as well as persons interviewed for articles on the site, may have a long or short position in securities mentioned and may make purchases and/or sales of those securities in the open market or otherwise.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules