Alaska's Billion Dollar Mountain
Comment of the Day

November 04 2011

Commentary by David Fuller

Alaska's Billion Dollar Mountain

This is an interesting article on the discovery of some potentially important rare earths deposits, written by Daniel Grushkin for Bloomberg Businessweek. Here is a key section from the conclusion:
"The only source of heavy rare earths that the U.S. has that could come online in this decade would be Ucore's," says Jack Lifton, founder of Technology Metals Research. "Ucore should be able to produce 180 tons a year of dysprosium. If they get to that, they'll be the largest producer of dysprosium outside of China-ever." At current prices, 180 tons of dysprosium would be worth $367.4 million.

McKenzie expects to begin production in 2015, and is hoping to raise $100 million from the state of Alaska and manufacturers who need a stable supply of rare earths. He says Ucore plans to build a mine complex on Bokan, including a mill, a conveyor belt to the shore, a base camp for the miners, and a dock so that processed rock can be loaded straight onto barges.

At the close of this year's summer season, drill crews pulled 43 more core samples from Bokan. In some ways, the operation has been easier than McKenzie expected. When the U.S. Forest Service threatened to slow drilling over road permits, a whirlwind of political support materialized. Politicians rallied around Bokan because it offers a source of good jobs. "We are at the brink of a new promise, a promise of rare earth minerals," Alaska Governor Sean Parnell declared at a minerals summit in Fairbanks in September. "Our state is going to play a vital role to enhance our nation's security, and in improving our nation's economy."

David Fuller's view In addition to being a great mining story, this is an informative article. It mentions that dysprosium is one of the most important heavy rare earths metals and tops the US Energy Departments list of rare earths deemed to be most critical for the future development of green energy technologies.

Ucore Rare Metals (weekly & daily) has held up better than most other rare earths mining shares this year. A close beneath C$0.4 would now be required to question current scope for sideways to higher ranging. Recent relative strength within the sector makes it an interesting speculation but it will be years before this and most other rare earths miners show any profits.

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