Urgency Grows as Governments Recognize the Importance of Strategic Minerals

NEW YORK, May 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The U.S military, with almost 3 million personnel, 4,800 defense sites on seven continents and an annual budget of more than USD 700 Billion, is the largest organization in the world. It also relies on a diverse supply of minerals which are used by defense contractors to build the needed equipment. For example, Copper is used to make military vehicles such as aircraft, naval vessels and Coast Guard ships due to its ability to resist corrosion. Copper, being a flexible metal, is also often combined with lead and nickel to produce military gear and body armor that can withstand impact and degradation. Aluminum, which is lightweight and thus improves fuel efficiency, is also widely used, and about 80% of aircraft are made from this metal, according to National Mining Association. Other metals used for defense purposes include Molybdenum, Silver, Beryllium, Uranium and Titanium. Defense Metals Corp. (OTC: DFMTF) (TSX-V: DEFN), Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT), FLIR Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: FLIR), Cubic Corporation (NYSE: CUB), Mercury Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRCY)

Back in 2019, a report by Reuters indicated U.S. Army plans to fund the construction of rare earths processing facilities, part of an urgent push by Washington to secure domestic supply of the minerals used to make military weapons and electronics. “The U.S. rare earths industry needs big help to compete against the Chinese,” said Jim McKenzie, Chief Executive Officer of UCore Rare Metals Inc UCU.V, which is developing a rare earths project in Alaska. “It’s not just about the money, but also the optics of broad support from Washington.”

Defense Metals Corp. (OTCQB: DFMTF) (TSX-V: DEFN) reported earlier this week an update, “regarding its ongoing pre-pilot hydrometallurgical test work utilizing high-grade rare earth element (REE) mineral concentrate produced during the Company’s highly successful 26-tonne flotation pilot-plant that yielded a mineral concentrate averaging 7.4% NdPr oxide (neodymium-praseodymium)1.

The road accessible Wicheeda REE Property is located close to infrastructure approximately 80 kilometres northeast of Prince George, British Columbia (BC). The Wicheeda project has indicated mineral resources of 4,890,000 tonnes averaging 3.02% LREO (Light Rare Earth Elements) and inferred mineral resources of 12,100,000 tonnes averaging 2.90% LREO2.

Highlights of ongoing infill hydrometallurgical test results, which centred around optimizing caustic crack-acid leach conditions, and leach liquor impurity removal conducted at SGS Canada Inc. (“SGS”) Lakefield, Ontario Site are as follows:

High REE extraction, for base case bench and bulk (3 kg) caustic crack across the range of test conditions in comparison to initial 2019/2020 bench test work (see Defense Metals News Release dated February 16, 2021).

Comparable REE extraction via direct crack of mineral concentrate shows promise with calculated neodymium extraction within a 5% range of the base case.

The success of direct crack test results opens up the potential of future optimization work to reduce circuit complexity though potential elimination of gangue leaching and associated solid-liquid separation steps.

Primary impurity removal tests on leach liquor at terminal pH yield very efficient Th and Fe removal (>99% Th and >95% Fe) at negligible Nd losses.

Ongoing hydrometallurgical optimisation test work being conducted at SGS Lakefield is expected to be completed over the next 4-6 weeks resulting in finalization of a base-case flowsheet to inform operation of a future hydrometallurgical pilot plant. Final test work is expected to focus on secondary impurity removal and the production of a purified mixed REE precipitate and on the regeneration of hydrochloric acid.

1 See Defense Metals News Release dated September 23, 2020

2 Technical Report on the Wicheeda Property, British Columbia, effective June 27, 2020 and prepared by APEX Geoscience Ltd. (Steven J. Nicholls, B.A. Sc., MAIG and Kristopher J. Raffle, B.Sc., P.Geo.) is available under Defense Metals Corp.’s profile on SEDAR (www.sedar.com)

Craig Taylor, CEO of Defense Metals, stated: “Defense Metals continues to be extremely pleased with its ongoing pre-pilot hydrometallurgical test work campaign. These latest results establish that stable REE extractions are achievable across a range of test conditions bracketing our emerging base case flowsheet. Significantly, direct crack REE extractions were similarly high opening up the door for potential circuit complexity and future capital cost reductions. Primary impurity removal test show that at the bench scale we can produce a high quality REE leach liquor suitable for conversion to mixed REE oxide end product.”

About the Wicheeda REE Property: The 1,708 hectare Wicheeda REE Property, located approximately 80 km northeast of the city of Prince George, British Columbia, is readily accessible by all-weather gravel roads and is nearby to infrastructure, including power transmission lines, the CN railway and major highways.

Geologically, the property is situated in the Foreland Belt and within the Rocky Mountain Trench, a major continental geologic feature. The Foreland Belt contains part of a large alkaline igneous province, stretching from the Canadian Cordillera to the southwestern United States, which includes several carbonatite and alkaline intrusive complexes hosting the Aley (niobium), Rock Canyon (REE), and Wicheeda (REE) deposits.

Qualified Person: The scientific and technical information contained in this news release as it relates to the Wicheeda REE Property has been reviewed and approved by Kristopher J. Raffle, P.Geo. (BC) Principal and Consultant of APEX Geoscience Ltd. of Edmonton, AB, a director of Defense Metals and a “Qualified Person” as defined in National Instrument 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects. Mr. Raffle verified the data disclosed which includes a review of the analytical and test data underlying the information and opinions contained therein…”

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Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) operates in the aircraft, defense, industrial, and finance businesses worldwide. Bell Textron Inc., a subsidiary of Textron manufactures military rotorcraft at facilities in Fort Worth, and Amarillo, Texas, as well as commercial helicopters in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada. “Bell is harnessing our world-renowned military technology to equip modern warfighters with the aircraft they need to dominate the battlefield. Our combat-proven, dynamic platforms are first to the fight and ready to carry troops through demanding environments,” according to their website. 

FLIR Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: FLIR) announced last week that it has received more than USD 70 Million in new orders for its advanced ground robots from the U.S. Armed Services. The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps placed orders for nearly 600 FLIR Centaur® robots, including additional spares, antennas, and payload mounting kits. As a result, the U.S. Army awarded FLIR a USD 31.6 Million contract increase for its Man Transportable Robot System Increment II (MTRS Inc. II) program. The new award raises the ceiling value of the original MTRS Inc. II contract from roughly USD 158 Million to USD 190 Million. The FLIR Centaur® is a medium-sized ground robot that provides a standoff capability to detect, confirm, identify, and dispose of hazards.

Cubic Corporation (NYSE: CUB) is an American public transportation and defense corporation. It operates two business segments, Cubic Transportation Systems and Cubic Mission and Performance Solutions. The Cubic Mission Solutions (CMS) segment offers networked C4ISR solutions for defense, intelligence, security, and commercial missions. The CGD Systems segment supplies live, virtual, constructive, and game-based training solutions to the U.S. Department of Defense, other U.S. government agencies, and allied nations. 

Mercury Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRCY) a technology company, manufactures and sells components, modules, and subsystems in the United States, Europe, and the Asia Pacific. he company’s products and solutions are deployed in approximately 300 programs with 25 defense prime contractors and commercial aviation customers. Last month, the Company announced that it has launched the ground-breaking Rappid™ spectrum processing platform, an innovative, modular open system architecture designed to dramatically accelerate the development of a wide range of electronic warfare (EW), signal intelligence and software-defined radio applications. This scalable application-ready platform reduces integration costs, extends system lifecycles, and enables fast deployment of new technologies, all critical elements to remain relevant against evolving adversary threats.

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