Vancouver, British Columbia - April 26, 2021 (www.waternewswire.com) - Media alert for Defense Metals Corp. (TSX-V: DEFN / OTCQB: DFMTF / FSE: 35D). The company was featured in the following article: "Chinese demand to fuel Rare Earths market demand for years to come."
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By David Duval
Few industrial commodities have the exotic appeal of Rare Earth Elements (REEs), a group of 17 elements referred to as the lanthanide series in the periodic table of elements. They are widely used in a variety of industrial applications, with the manufacturing of permanent magnets representing the single largest and most important end use for REEs. This market segment alone accounts for 38% of total forecasted demand.
A recent report in the Financial Times alleged that China is considering the placement of export controls on REEs in order to damage U.S. industry and more specifically defense production. Perhaps with this threat in mind, during the last days of the Trump administration over US$800 million was allocated for REE and strategic minerals research in a pandemic stimulus package.
Rare earth elements are a group of 15 elements with tongue-twisting names like praseodymium, neodymium, terbium and dysprosium, and which are vital to green technology and high-tech applications. They fall into two sub-groups: light and heavy, with the heavies being more scarce.
Since the U.S. relies on China, the dominant global supplier, for about 80% of its rare earths imports, security of supply became an issue at the beginning of the last decade when China imposed export restrictions, a move that sparked renewed investor interest in the sector.
China has dominated the rare earths industry for 30 years and there is little indication that this will change any time soon, industry officials say. Now, with a dramatic increase in demand for rare earth magnets needed to drive electric transportation and produce clean energy solutions, the industrial world remains exposed to Chinese dominance.
It means there is a big opportunity for a company like Defense Metals. Its key asset is the 1,708-hectare Wicheeda Light Rare Earth Element Property located approximately 80 kilometres northeast of Prince George, B.C. The property is accessible by all-weather gravel roads and is near infrastructure, including power transmission lines, the CN railway and major highways.
Favourable mineralogy and lanthanide distribution make Wicheeda a very attractive LREE deposit, the company has said. Two specific rare earth minerals Monzanite and Synchysite/Parasite-Bastanaesite are present in equal proportions.
The project hosts an indicated mineral resource of 4.89 million tonnes averaging 3.02% LREO (Light Rare Earth Oxide) and an inferred mineral resource of 12.1 million tonnes averaging 2.9% LREO. The 2020 estimate marks a 40% increase in overall tonnage and 30% increase in the overall average grade compared to the 2019 maiden resource estimate. The company is targeting a potential +15-year mine life at a 2.0 million tonne/year throughput.
Meanwhile, Defense Metals is working in parallel on all facets of project development including baseline environmental, pilot-scale metallurgical studies; in addition to economic modelling and scenario analysis as it moves towards completion of a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) during 2021.
Defense Metals has engaged SRK Consulting (Canada) Inc. to conduct an economic scenario analysis of its Wicheeda Project that will facilitate decision making related to performing a PEA. The scenario analysis will evaluate the potential of multiple mine development scenarios through the completion of economic trade-off studies, which, subject to results, will form the basis for the PEA.
Positive flotation and hydrometallurgical test work achieved a high-grade 50% LREO concentrate at above 85% recovery. Hydrometallurgical test work demonstrated 90% REE extraction with opportunities for further improvement.
Defense Metals recently commissioned the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) to complete an X-Ray Transmission (XRT) sorting amenability study on Wicheeda REE mineralization.
The move comes after Defense Metals and SRC were awarded National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) funding, a Government of Canada funded program mandated to provide financial support for technology innovation.
Funding awarded under the NRC IRAP will cover approximately 70% of the estimated cost of the XRT amenability study test-work, the company said.
The objective of the SRC amenability study is to investigate XRT sorting for the purpose of upgrading Wicheeda REE mineralization prior to downstream processing. Sensor-based sorting has several advantages when applied to REE mining projects in that beneficiation occurs without water and with reduced grinding requirements. (Beneficiation is any process that improves (benefits) the economic value of the ore by removing gangue minerals (unmineralized waste).
The investigation will assess how much gangue can be removed from the head feed.
It will also carry out an iterative study of different sorting sizes to process in the XRT sorter assessing both the grade of the upgraded concentrate and the grade of waste for economic studies whereby the optimum operational parameters can be determined.
XRT sorting has the potential to realize several significant project benefits, including:
"Defense Metals looks forward to investigating the potential of low-cost front-end upgrading of Wicheeda REE mineralization via XRT sorting," said Defense Metals CEO Craig Taylor. "We are working on a PEA, looking forward to another exciting drill program, more environmental work and possibly a PFS by year end."
The company was notified by its Asia-based adviser, Golden Dragon Capital Ltd., that it has received requests from two leading global REE smelting and separator enterprises to provide samples of Wicheeda REE mineral concentrate for evaluation prior to negotiations of an initial memorandum of understanding (MOU) and subsequent potential mineral concentrate offtake agreements. These requests are the third and fourth REE concentrate evaluation requests received to date, and discussions are currently continuing with several other parties.
Defense Metals recently received the formal Wicheeda rare earth element (REE) project continuous hydrometallurgical pilot plant proposal from SGS Canada Inc. The company's successful 26-tonne flotation pilot plant campaign, also completed at the SGS Lakefield, Ontario metallurgical test facility, yielded approximately 1,200 kilograms of high-grade REE mineral concentrate. Initiation of the hydrometallurgical pilot plant test program is the next step in establishing overall flowsheet operability at scale.
These developments are part of a plan to advance Wicheeda along the road to production. The Wicheeda deposit hosts neodymium and praseodymium LREEs and Defense Metals is positioning itself to meet the growing demand for these North American-sourced Light Rare Earth Elements.
On April 23, 2021, Defense Metals shares were trading at .415 cents in a 52-week range of 75 cents and $0.115, leaving the company with a market cap of $26.7 million based on 64,440,000 shares outstanding.
About Defense Metals Corp. https://defensemetals.com/
Defense Metals Corp. is a mineral exploration company focused on the acquisition of mineral deposits containing metals and elements commonly used in the electric power market, military, national security and the production of "GREEN" energy technologies, such as, high strength alloys and rare earth magnets. Defense Metals has an option to acquire 100% of the 1,708 hectare Wicheeda Rare Earth Element Property located near Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. Defense Metals Corp. trades in Canada under the symbol "DEFN" on the TSX Venture Exchange, in the United States, under "DFMTF" on the OTCQB and in Germany on the Frankfurt Exchange under "35D".
For further information, please contact:
Todd Hanas, Bluesky Corporate Communications Ltd.
Vice President, Investor Relations
Tel: (778) 994 8072
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