Defense Metals rare earths

British Columbia gets behind Defense Metals’ rare earths project

Defense Metals (TSXV:DEFN) will receive the assistance of the British Columbia Government to accelerate the development of the company’s Wicheeda Rare Earth Element Project.

The government will make available to Defense Metals a “concierge-like” service that will provide dedicated support to navigate regulatory processes, advance funding opportunities, and expedite solutions to issues.

British Columbia Mines Minister Josie Osborne says rare earth elements play a crucial role in green technologies like wind turbines and electric vehicle motors. 

“Projects such as Wicheeda are integral to BC’s critical minerals strategy and the world’s energy transition,” she says.

Defense Metals CEO Craig Taylor says the government backing will enable the development of the Wicheeda Project by mitigating regulatory and permitting delays. 

“This, combined with the solid technical progress we have achieved, including extensive metallurgical pilot testing and evaluation of samples by potential third-party off-takers, reinforces our confidence that we are on track to meet our objective of commencing production in 2029,” he says.

The Wicheeda Project hosts resources of 6.4 million tonnes of measured material, averaging 2.86% total rare earth oxides (TREO); 27.8 million indicated tonnes, averaging 1.84% TREO; and 11.1 million tonnes in the inferred category, averaging 1.02% TREO.

The project sits about 80km northeast of the city of Prince George, is readily accessible by a paved highway and all-weather gravel roads, and is close to infrastructure including hydro power transmission lines and gas pipelines.

The nearby Canadian National Railway and major highways allow easy access to the port facilities at Prince Rupert, the closest major North American port to Asia.

Rare earth elements are on Canada’s list of 31 minerals identified as critical to the clean energy transition. 

The first Critical Minerals List was released in March 2021 as part of Canada’s emissions reduction plan, which sets a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030, and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

For a mineral to be added to the list it must meet certain criteria including the supply chain is threatened, there is a reasonable chance of the mineral being produced by Canada, and it is either essential to Canada’s economic or national security or is required for the national transition to a sustainable low-carbon and digital economy.

Earlier this week Canada tightened its restrictions on large mergers and acquisitions in the sector to protect its critical minerals resources. 

British Columbia mines 16 of Canada’s 31 critical minerals.

As part of the province’s Critical Minerals Strategy, the government established a Critical Minerals Project Advancement Office, allocated dedicated permitting resources, is working with First Nations people, and is modernising the Mineral Tenure Act. 

Defense Metals, which is also listed on the OTCQB (OTCQB:DFMTF) and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (FSE:35D) has a market capitalisation of C$47.8 million ($51.9 million).

Write to Angela East at Mining.com.au 

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Written By Angela East
Managing Editor Angela East is an experienced business journalist and editor with over 15 years spent covering the resources and construction sectors and more recently working as a communications specialist handling media relations for junior resources companies.