Ucore Chairman Provides Strategic Update to Shareholders: Taking Action Today to Secure Tomorrow
Halifax, Nova Scotia--(Newsfile Corp. - October 6, 2020) - Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSXV: UCU) (OTCQX: UURAF) ("Ucore" or the "Company") is pleased to provide the following message from Pat Ryan, Chairman & Interim CEO of Ucore:
To our Valued Shareholders,
The world is changing - and at an unprecedented pace. For Ucore's long-term shareholders and new supporters alike, this acceleration of change has generated opportunities that continue to evolve in our favour. Many of these opportunities are linked to emerging supply chain chaos, and the increasing instability of Chinese supply sources for metals of critical importance to the United States, known as the rare earth elements ("REEs").
In recent years, China has proven that it will do what is best for China, notwithstanding its obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization. It is a philosophy made explicit in the 'Made in China 2025' national strategic plan, announced by the Chinese government in May 2015[i]. By May 2019, Beijing's ongoing efforts to monopolize world REE supply chains significantly contributed to an official trade war with the United States, a conflict that continues to escalate with no immediate remedy in sight.
Many experts have recognized that REEs have quietly become an essential and non-substitutable component of nearly every new technology of the 21st Century. Transportation, defence, green energy, and health-care sectors are now heavily reliant upon REEs. Compounding this is the swift global transition to renewable energy solutions. The flight from fossil fuels is occurring faster than most understand or ever thought possible.
Geopolitical tensions, heightened by disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, have made REEs, more than ever, a white-hot issue for the United States and its allies - one that pertains to national, economic and technological security. Following a series of US Presidential Determinations concerning the REE supply chain in July of 2019, the crisis recently spurred a fundamental shift in US policy recognizing the vulnerabilities of a REE supply chain founded on the reliance of foreign adversaries - resulting in a critical minerals emergency declaration by the President of the United States[ii].
Numerous countries and enterprises are now racing to establish independent and secure REE supply chains. Ucore is one of a handful of companies that have been at the forefront of this race from the onset. From early on, our vision has been to disrupt the Chinese dominance of the US REE supply chain based on three guiding principles:
i) Secure & Sustainable Supply - Secure and develop a US source of heavy REEs ("HREEs");
ii) Discrete & Scalable Technology - Develop and/or acquire a green and efficient REE separation technology to meet Western world standards of safety and environmental compliance yet be able to compete head-to-head with low-cost Chinese operators; and
iii) Independent Domestic Infrastructure - Influence the North American REE infrastructure to support a US-centric REE supply chain.
To this end, Ucore has; (i) secured one of the foremost US HREE assets - the Bokan-Dotson Ridge REE Project in Southeast Alaska (the "Bokan Project"); (ii) acquired a proprietary advanced separation and purification technology with the potential to expedite and streamline REE extraction methodologies - the RapidSX™ technology platform; and (iii) cultivated an unprecedented relationship with the State of Alaska to develop a Rare Earth processing and supply hub on US soil with easy access to and from the rest of the Pacific Rim. With these foundational measures in mind, Ucore is now pleased to unfold our blueprint for US HREE independence:
Introduction of ALASKA2023
Since the Company's May 8, 2020, acquisition of Innovation Metals Corp. ("IMC") and its proprietary RapidSX™ metals separation technology, Ucore has created a definitive commercialization pathway to achieve a secure, economic, REE supply chain in the United States. As critical as the establishment of a complete US REE supply chain is, it must be achieved in the shortest timeframe possible and with the lowest possible capital and operating costs. Ucore's business plan is focused entirely on near-term US REE independence, by establishing downstream REE manufacturing and production capacity to cost-effectively transform US-allied-sourced REE feedstocks into 100% Made-in-USA finished REE oxides ("REOs").
As we approach 2021, our specific required actions have matured and in response, we have developed very explicit goals that are embodied in our Alaskan-centric ALASKA2023 business plan; a three-year program, which now drives every decision made by the Company based upon the following salient objectives:
- Enhance our relationship with the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority ("AIDEA") to release funding associated with the Alaska Strategic Metals Complex ("Alaska SMC") and the Bokan Project;
- Continue our working relationship with the State of Alaska Congressional Delegation in pursuit of US government support for our Alaska business development;
- Formalize our partnerships with the communities of Southeast Alaska as we develop the Alaska SMC and progress the development of the Bokan Project;
- Finalize a feasibility study, detailed mine engineering, and initiate mine permitting for the Bokan Project;
- Through our wholly-owned subsidiary, IMC, complete the commercialization[iii] of the RapidSX™ technology and launch the associated IMC licensing model[iv];
- Construct the first commercial-scale RapidSX™-based light REE ("LREE") separation and purification plant (developed with engineering modules in common with the Alaska SMC) in the continental United States to be built, commissioned and in operation within two years (by Q4 2022) in collaboration with our evolving team of industry partners;
- Construct the Alaska SMC, a commercial-scale RapidSX™ HREE & LREE separation and purification plant in Southeast Alaska as the first component of the Bokan Project. The Alaska SMC is expected to be commissioned and in operation within three years (by Q4 2023) and with a budgeted cost of less than $35M USD. It will be designed to initially process US-allied sourced feedstock(s) and ultimately feedstock from the Bokan Project itself.
Realigning our Team for Success
Immediately upon acquiring IMC, Ucore brought IMC's Chief Executive Officer Dr. Gareth Hatch, CEng onboard as Ucore's Chief Technology Officer and as a Company director. Mr. Ty Dinwoodie was also brought onboard as the Company's President, along with Dr. Kurt Forrester, CEng as the Company's Vice President of Metallurgy. Over the subsequent five months of assimilation, it became apparent that IMC should operate more autonomously within the Ucore group structure (while adhering to the Company's guiding principles and objectives). Therefore, the Ucore Board of Directors has made the following changes to more efficiently serve the objectives of both Ucore and IMC, effective immediately:
1) Dr. Hatch will now work solely as IMC's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer[v];
2) Mr. Randy Johnson, a long-term Ucore business advisor, has been appointed[vi] as a director of Ucore to fill Dr. Hatch's previous position. Mr. Johnson is the President of Tyler Rental, Inc., an Alaska-based enterprise with over 100 employees, which he founded as a start-up in 1989 and subsequently grew to a multi-state enterprise;
3) Mr. Dinwoodie will now work solely as IMC's President and as a director of IMC[vii]; and
4) Dr. Forrester will now work solely as IMC's Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Metallurgy[viii].
I would like to specifically thank Randy for joining our Board of Directors and to express my appreciation to Ty and Gareth for presenting their vision of a corporate structure which we all believe now allows the Ucore group of companies to more deftly respond and adapt to a rapidly changing worldwide critical-minerals landscape. Our collective management team remains committed to tackling the big issues before us and doing so in an efficient and environmentally responsible manner, to return maximum and sustained value to our shareholders.
A cost-competitive, commercial-scale, environmentally sound separation technology is the lynchpin of the current REE supply chain focus in the Western World. The RapidSX™ development program that Dr. Hatch and his team have implemented to advance RapidSX™ towards a commercial platform has enabled Ucore to credibly advance our near-term REE production initiatives in a way that was previously not possible. Our Alaskan-centric ALASKA2023 business plan will rely upon our longstanding and new partners to ensure that we bring a sustainable and comprehensive solution to the current dependence of the United States on the Chinese REE supply chain.
The ALASKA2023 timelines are aggressive and necessary to ensure US participation in a variety of emerging high-tech industries such as information technology, communication and electric vehicles. The current US Senate annual defense policy bill, S.4049 sets the goal of ensuring a secure supply chain of "strategic" minerals by 2030. Our ALASKA2023 business strategy aspires to be completed well in advance of 2030 and to be subsequently replaced by bigger and bolder Company objectives.
In the coming weeks, we will reveal more specific details about our ALASKA2023 business plan but for now, I will summarize by noting that our near-term objectives are primarily focussed on the most critical, feasible, timely and profitable solutions to what the United States and the REE industry needs right now, underpinned by our Alaska-centric infrastructure and the RapidSX™ technology platform. We are confident of the value, advantages and timelines associated with our new three-year business plan and look forward to updating the market about our activities, initiatives, and progress in the near future. Our energy, our passion and our capabilities have never been stronger - and I want all of our partners, stakeholders, and loyal shareholders to feel as excited about the future as we are at Ucore.
We sincerely thank you for your continued support,
Patrick Ryan, P.Eng.
Interim Chief Executive Officer
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Ucore Rare Metals Inc.
[iv] The portion of IMC's business regarding the use of RapidSX™ for REE separation may be pursued through American Innovation Metals, LLC (a prospective joint-venture corporation involving Hexagon Energy Materials Ltd.).
[v] As a formality, Dr. Hatch has formally resigned from his Ucore positions.
[vi] Subject to TSX-V approval
[vii] As a formality, Mr. Dinwoodie has formally resigned from his Ucore position.
[viii] As a formality, Dr. Forrester has formally resigned from his Ucore position.
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About Ucore Rare Metals Inc.
Ucore is focused on rare and critical metals resources, extraction, beneficiation and separation technologies with potential for production, growth, and scalability. Ucore has a 100% ownership stake in the Bokan-Dotson Ridge Rare Earth Element Project in Southeast Alaska. Ucore's vision and plan is to transition to become a leading advanced technology company that provides mineral separation products and services to the mining and mineral extraction industry. Through strategic partnerships, this vision includes the development of a heavy rare earth processing facility - the Alaska Strategic Metals Complex ("SMC") in Southeast Alaska, the development of its heavy rare earth element resource located at Bokan Mountain on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska, and the development of a light rare earth element processing facility in the continental United States.
Ucore is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange under the trading symbol "UCU" and in the United States on the OTC Markets' OTCQX® Best Market under the ticker symbol "UURAF". For further information, please visit www.ucore.com.
This press release includes certain statements that may be deemed "forward-looking statements". All statements in this release (other than statements of historical facts) that address future business development, technological development and/or acquisition activities (including any related required financings), timelines, litigation outcomes, events, or developments that the Company expects, are forward-looking statements. Although the Company believes the expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are not guarantees of future performance or results and actual results or developments may differ materially from those in forward-looking statements. In regard to the disclosure in the "About Ucore Rare Metals Inc." section above, the Company has assumed that it will be able to procure or retain additional partners and/or suppliers, in addition to IMC, as suppliers for Ucore's expected future Alaska Strategic Metals Complex ("Alaska SMC"). Ucore has also assumed that sufficient external funding will be found to prepare a new National Instrument 43-101 ("NI 43-101") technical report that demonstrates that the Bokan Mountain Rare Earth Elements project ("Bokan") is feasible and economically viable for the production of both REE and co-product mineral materials and metals and the then prevailing market prices based upon assumed customer off-take agreements. Ucore has also assumed that sufficient external funding will be secured to develop the specific engineering plans for the Alaska SMC and its construction. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward-looking statements include, without limitation: IMC failing to protect its intellectual property rights in RapidSX™; RapidSX™ failing to demonstrate commercial viability in large commercial-scale applications; Ucore not being able to procure additional key partners or suppliers for the Alaska SMC; Ucore not being able to raise sufficient funds to fund the specific design and construction of the Alaska SMC and/or the continued development of RapidSX™; adverse capital-market conditions; unexpected due-diligence findings; unexpected or adverse outcomes in the currently outstanding litigation matters between Ucore and IBC Advanced Technologies, Inc.; the emergence of alternative superior metallurgy and metal-separation technologies; the inability of Ucore and/or IMC to retain its key staff members; a change in the legislation in Alaska and/or in the support expressed by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority ("AIDEA") regarding the development of Bokan and/or the Alaska SMC; the availability and procurement of any required interim and/or long-term financing that may be required; and general economic, market or business conditions.
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Vice President, Investor Relations
+1 902 482 5214
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