Ucore Initiates Updated Mill Flowsheet Design for Bokan Heavy REE Project

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Feb. 06, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSXV: UCU) (OTCQX: UURAF) (“Ucore” or the “Company”) is pleased to provide the following progress update with respect to the roll-out of its MINE to METAL to MARKET plan of strategic actions (the “M³ Plan”) for its Bokan-Dotson Ridge Rare Earth Project (the “Bokan Project” or “Bokan”); further to the Company’s press release of September 10, 2019

Bokan Project – Mill Flowsheet Design Upgrade for 2020

Pursuant to the MINE component of the M³ Plan, the Company has engaged SGS Canada Inc. (“SGS”) to advance the design of the prospective first-stage mineral processing plant at Bokan (the “Bokan-Site Mill” or the “Mill”). The initial stage of the SGS engagement will involve lab scale optimization of the mineral processing beneficiation flowsheet for the Bokan-Site Mill (the “Flowsheet”). As part of the design process, SGS will take into account a variety of co-product elements not previously incorporated in the prior Flowsheet design (see Ucore press release dated October 15, 2019).

Using the Company’s existing 2013 PEA Flowsheet as a base reference, SGS will perform a series of mineralogy studies and metallurgical tests, introducing potentially valuable collateral metals into the mineral concentrate. The revised and upgraded 2020 Flowsheet is expected to optimize the beneficiation processes for the rare earth elements (“REEs”), and consider the incorporation of the co-product metals niobium (Nb), zirconium (Zr), beryllium (Be), hafnium (Hf), titanium (Ti), and vanadium (V) which had not been included as part of the recovery in previous studies. This laboratory optimization process will include a variety of sample size fractions in preparation for forthcoming pilot-scale testing of the Bokan-Site Mill design and finalization of the 2020 Flowsheet through to its inclusion in Ucore’s upcoming feasibility study.

“The development of the Bokan mineral resource is a pillar of Ucore’s portfolio of business assets,” said Jim McKenzie, President & CEO of Ucore. “Ucore is committed to the continued development of the Bokan Project, with aspirations of ultimately developing a proven mineral reserve through the continued support of our shareholders, other stakeholders, and the possible U.S. Government funding opportunities that are being pursued.”

“Defining the initial Bokan-Site Mill output before it reaches the planned Alaska SMC is an essential phase in the execution of Ucore’s technical and engineering initiatives for the Bokan Project,” stated Mike Schrider, Ucore COO. “With this important next step, we’ll build upon previously executed work, while maximizing the mine’s potential output via the integration of available co-product metals. SGS has a wide breadth of experience in the development and optimization of mineral processes. We look forward to the results of this optimization study and to the subsequent piloting and confirmation of the Mill’s 2020 Flowsheet.”

Bokan PEA and Feasibility Study Update

The first component of the Company’s M3 Plan (i.e. the potential “Mine”) is founded upon the Company’s 2013 yet still current and applicable technical studies and analyses developed in the Company’s Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”), an NI 43-101 Technical Report filed on SEDAR on March 14, 2013, that was based upon an inferred mineral resource estimate with an effective date of March 7, 2011 (as supplemented by mineral resource updates on May 11, 2015, and October 15, 2019, which did not constitute material changes to the Company). 

During the interim years since 2013, a significant portion of the Company’s focus has been on the development and integration of the very important and integral second component of the Company’s M3 Plan (i.e. the downstream prospective “Metal” processing and purification business).  With the recent renewed interest in: the REE market; the REE supply chain; US independence from Chinese REE dependence; security of REE supplies; and international trade wars, the Company plans to create a feasibility study (the “Feasibility Study”) (an NI 43-101 Technical Report) based upon the entirety of its current M3 Plan. This Feasibility Study will include detailed economic analyses and technical geological and metallurgical beneficiation and processing information regarding the specific mixed REEs (and co-products) that are expected to be produced from the Bokan Project, which are expected to be processed and purified by the Alaska SMC, and then are expected to be sold to one or more downstream end-market or off-take purchasers (such as U.S. Federal Government contractors or members of the automotive sector who are expected to purchase REE-alloys that they will use to make products for electric vehicles). 

In 2020, the Company expects to embark upon additional testing of materials from the Bokan Project and expects to learn about the U.S. Government’s various decisions to contribute funding to develop separation facilities that can produce REEs in the U.S.A. If these circumstances are positive for the development of the M3 Plan, then the Company expects to develop the Feasibility Study during 2020/21 for completion in late 2021 or early 2022.

Ucore’s PEA is preliminary in nature, it includes inferred mineral resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves, and there is no certainty that the PEA will be realized. Mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.

About Ucore

Ucore Rare Metals is a company focused on rare and critical metals resources, extraction and beneficiation technologies with potential for production, growth, and scalability. The Company has a 100% ownership stake in the Bokan-Dotson Ridge Rare Earth Project. On March 31, 2014, Ucore announced the unanimous support of the Alaska State Legislature for Senate Bill 99 (2014), which authorized the AIDEA to issue up to USD $145 million in bonds for the infrastructure and construction costs of the Bokan-Dotson Ridge Rare Earth Project. 

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. This vision includes the development of the Alaska SMC in Southeast Alaska and the development of the Company’s rare earth minerals property located at Bokan Mountain in Alaska.

For further information, please contact Mr. Jim McKenzie, President & CEO of Ucore Rare Metals Inc. at: +1 (902) 482-5214 or visit <http://www.ucore.com>.

Qualified Person

Mr. Edwin H. Bentzen III, a consulting metallurgical engineer, has approved the scientific and technical content of this news release and is the Qualified Person responsible for its accuracy. Mr. Bentzen received a B.Sc. degree in 1967, at the Mackey School of Mines, University of Nevada, Reno, with a Minor in Chemistry. He has worked with industrial minerals while at the Minerals Research Laboratory, in Asheville, N.C. and been employed by the Colorado School of Mines Research Institute, Ore Sorters (North America) Inc., Hazen Research, MD Mineral Technologies, Lyntek Inc. and Resource Development Inc. He is active in SME (Registered Member) and is past President of the Colorado Section SME.

Cautionary Notes

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 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. Regarding Ucore’s M3 Plan of Action and the disclosure in the “About Ucore” section above, the Company has assumed that it will be able to procure or retain geometallurgy partners and/or suppliers, including a solvent extraction (“SX”) partner or SX supplier 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 NI 43-101 technical report that demonstrates that the Bokan Project 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 found 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: Ucore not being able to procure an SX partner or supplier for the Alaska SMC; Ucore not being able to raise sufficient funds to fund the specific design and construction of the Alaska SMC; 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 to retain its key staff members; unexpected transaction costs or other deal completion setbacks; a change in the legislation in Alaska and/or in the support expressed by 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.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined by the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

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