Quest Rare Minerals ambitious Quebec rare earth project scares investors

Quest Rare Minerals (TSE:QRM) gave up more than 16% in value on Tuesday after the Montreal-based explorer announced further details about its ambitious rare earth project in Quebec.

Quest Rare Minerals said in a statement that following a positive pre-feasibility study for its Strange Lake rare earth project released last week, it has selected Bécancour Industrial Park for a $1.3 billion hydrometallurgical plant.

The planned complex is expected to employ more than 500 Quebecers during the construction phase and create more than 300 full-time jobs once the plant is up and running, scheduled for 2017.

Estimated total construction capital costs for Quest Rare Minerals' rare earth mine and processing plant are $2.57 billion, based on a minimum mine life of 30 years according to the PFS.

The project will be one of the world’s largest and highest-grade heavy rare-earth developments, according to Quest Rare Minerals which hopes to have a feasibility study by second quarter next year and deliver its first product in 2018.

By the close the $41 million company was trading down 16.6% at $0.61 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, after more than double usual trading volumes in the stock. The counter is now down over 24% since releasing the PFS and down 42% since the start of the year.

Quest Rare Minerals (TSE:AVL) is up against the likes of Avalon Rare Metals and its $1.6 billion Nechalacho project located some 100 kilometres southeast of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories and Matamec Explorations' (CVE:MAT) Kipawa project, also in Quebec to become the first rare earth producer in the country.

Most rare earths are down 70% or more from their 2011 peak, when prices were pushed to stratospheric levels by fears over China's monopoly of global production and the country's implementation of export controls.

The 17 elements that make up rare earths are used in a variety of high-tech, green and consumer electronics industries.

Image of Village de Sainte-Angèle-de-Laval, à Bécancour, Wikimedia