TSX-V-listed junior Medallion Resources, which is pursuing production of magnet metals, believes the time is right to start selecting potential sites for a rare-earth plant as part of a strategy to rebuild a North American rare earth value chain.
The company is seeking third-party proposals to advance the development of a North American extraction plant, with one proposal calling for the evaluation of logistics and plant sitting operations in the US and Canada, while the other calls for the development of the process engineering design for Medallion’s rare-earth flowsheet.
Rare earths have been front and centre in recent months, as a result of the trade friction between China and the US. These metals are also increasingly important to the electrification of transportation, particularly electric vehicles.
During the last two months, prices of the key magnet metals, such as neodymium and praseodymium, collectively known as NdPr, have moved up more than 25%. Medallion’s share price also responded positively during this time, more than doubling from C$0.10 a share in mid-May, to C$0.24 a share by mid-June. Although the shine has come off in recent days, the stock still traded at C$0.18 a share on Monday.
“We feel it is the right time to initiate the evaluation of plant sites for a commercial monazite processing plant as a key part of re-building a North American rare earth value chain,” president and CEO Don Lay said in a media statement on Tuesday.
Medallion will focus on producing NdPr from monazite sand, which is discarded or stockpiled by mineral sands mines around the world making it available in large quantities at a low cost. The company’s strategy includes entering into long-term monazite supply agreements with heavy mineral sands producers.
The company explained that it would commission several preliminary trade-off studies to investigate the integration of processing and transport nodes. These studies would assess suitable jurisdictions for the proposed monazite “crack and leach” plant, as well as the upstream and downstream logistics issues related to the transport of monazite sand feedstock, re-agents, produced products and waste material to and from potential project locations.
The location selection would consider several factors, including access to, and costs of, reagents, such as sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid, energy and human resources; permitting; and social and environmental impacts.
NdPr represents about 80% of the value of total global rare earths demand. China, the world’s main producer is also the main consumer, reducing export flow to global markets.