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RER to offer rights

By
Mary Stroka, NLJ Reporter

Rare Element Resources’ rights offering among opportunities to support project
 
Construction is under way at the Rare Element Resources’ demonstration plant in Upton, and come March or April, the company should have equipment on-site. 
 
CEO Brent Berg said on Feb. 15 that RER expects to see equipment that has been pre-assembled off-site arriving on skids in April for the plant’s operation, which could start as early as this summer. The plant is only expected to operate for a short time, and is scheduled to be decommissioned in mid- to late 2025. 
 
Funding for the project includes just over $22 million from RER, $44 million from the U.S. Department of Energy and a $4.4 million grant from the Wyoming Energy Authority. The DOE might provide additional funding, and the company plans to raise more money for the project from private investors.
 
As it announced Feb. 14, the company is also funding the work through a rights offering, through which it plans to raise up to about $35.8 million in gross proceeds. The company said it will issue people who were shareholders on Dec. 15, 2023, 1.4 nontransferable subscription rights for each share they had on that date. Per whole subscription right, the shareholder can buy one share for 12 cents per share. Shareholders also have an oversubscription privilege. The offering ends on March 11.
 
Through the rights offering, everyone who was a shareholder as of that date should be able to buy discounted shares with their brokers, RER consultant Kelli Kast said in an email on Feb. 24. People who would like to buy shares for the first time can buy “REEMF” on the open market at market price. REEMF is RER’s ticker symbol.
 
“The funds raised will fund the demonstration project operations for a sufficient period of time, as well as position Rare Element to progress work for the Bear Lodge Project development when appropriate,” Berg said.
 
Keith Materi, Tyvo Drilling’s production manager and vice president of the Upton Economic Development Board, has been invested in RER for about a decade. Since work at Bear Lodge often involves drilling and the rare earth elements market is important to the U.S., he was reviewing the progress at the site and became an investor, he said on Feb. 19 in a phone interview.
 
Materi explained that rare earth elements, unlike coal, are embedded in the surrounding material, and separation is an intricate process.
 
“Nobody else in the United States really has a good process for doing that yet, and they (RER) feel like they’re onto the real process for separating that,” he said.
 
China, which processes most of the world’s rare earth elements, declared a ban in December 2023 against exporting technology to make rare earth magnets, adding onto its ban against exporting extraction and separation technology for critical minerals, Reuters reported. Materi noted that other potential rare earth development sites exist in Wyoming too.
 
“This could be big for other areas of the state as well if they do decide to start developing those areas,” Materi said.
 
He believes that RER’s project in Crook and Weston Counties has been good for the local economy, noting that at least eight companies have conducted a lot of exploratory drilling and earth moving in the area. He reported that at least 50 workers were involved in simply proving that the rare earth minerals were recoverable, and truck traffic has increased.
 
“It’s already been a pretty good thing, but we’re really optimistic it’s going to be a really good thing,” he said. “All the permits are in place, so the plant is definitely a go. Now it’s not a matter of ‘if;’ It’s a matter of ‘when.’”
 
Materi said he believes that the work — and supporting the work — is important for Weston County. The county, and Upton in particular, hasn’t seen much new business in the past few years and his interest in the community’s welfare helped motivate him to support the venture. While everyone wants to enjoy the benefits of an increased tax base and more businesses and jobs, people often hold back from investing and just wait for the success. As a resident for nearly 60 years and a third-generation Weston County landowner, it was important to Materi that he invest in the project.
 
“We have to see economic development if we want to stay here and if we want our kids to stay here,” he said.
 
Materi said that anyone interested in investing should contact RER and do some research. They can also contact the Upton Economic Development Board to find out more about the benefits the board has seen from RER and companies that are considering coming into the industrial park.
 
He warned that investment is somewhat like gambling, and said people who can’t afford to lose money they use to buy stocks shouldn’t buy them. 
 
“An administration changes or local politics change, and then entire businesses, entire industries can be wiped out,” he cautioned.
 
Regardless of whether or not residents choose to invest in the company, Berg said RER treasures the support it has received from Weston County to this point.
 
“That support was so evident at our well-attended open house in Upton in early October 2023.  As the construction contractors continue their work prepping the site, and soon the equipment will arrive for installation, we know that the county residents are excited to see the progress,” he said.
 
Berg said the company also appreciates residents continued expression of support for the project to elected officials.
 
“We look forward to keeping the community updated on the progress and grow our active presence in Upton,” Berg said. “As our demonstration plant project progresses from the current construction status into operations, expected later this summer, we hope to continue to bring proper attention to Weston County, the city of Upton, and the state of Wyoming and its leadership in progressing a secure, domestic source of separated rare earths using our innovative technology for the permanent magnet supply chain.”
 

 
Progress being made at demo plant
 
The DOE issued its continuation notice for RER’s Upton demonstration plant in December, allowing the on-site construction that is already underway in Upton, Berg said. He indicated that when the plant’s operations budget is approved, the company can begin operating, and he expects that will happen once construction is complete.
 
“The DOE’s approval of the operations portion of the ongoing budget will be part of that process, and those items are underway with the General Atomics-led project team and the DOE,” he said.
 
As the News Letter Journal reported in November 2023, General Atomics CEO Neal Blue said at an October RER open house that the project’s principal purpose is the production of permanent magnet motors for electric vehicles. Compared with other rare earth elements, those at the Bear Lodge Project site are less common and more valuable, and they can be used for high-strength permanent magnets, electronics, fiber optics, laser systems, electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines.
 
Weston County will benefit from RER and the project team’s infrastructure investment and the development of a workforce with rare earth processing knowledge, according to Berg.
 
“We look forward to a successful demonstration project which will serve as the basis for a full-scale commercialization plan, including the plant in the future, for employment and other commercial benefits to the County.”

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