Down under REE report: yet another entrant, REE prices soar

It is becoming very hard to keep with the Australian REE story. No sooner had RareMetalBlog posted news about two more newcomers on Monday in the form of Blackfire Energy and Krucible Metals, than we can add another name. Explorer ActiveEx (ASX:AIV) reports it has found what it calls “high value” HREE in rock samples and drill cores at its Florence copper-gold-cobalt project in Queensland.

An interesting aspect is Florence’s location – just 55km from the prospects at which China Yunnan Copper Australia (ASX:CYU) in January announced it had found HREE. ActiveEx now plans further testing for REE at the Florence project.

The assays show that, of the nine drill pulp samples re-assayed for rare earths, four returned readings that, of the REE content, more than 80 per cent were the heavy elements; in a fifth sample, the level of HREE was 79 per cent of all REE found, with dysprosium returning the highest assays. In addition, 16 of 287 rock chip samples returned significant levels of REE.

Meanwhile, Sydney-based investment firm Foster Stockbroking sees the latest price increases for REE as boding well for near-term producer Lynas Corp (ASX:LYC). Foster notes that the composition of REE from Lynas’ Mt Weld project has increased in price by 27 per cent in just one week.

But the changes between December 31 and February 28 are remarkable, being 81 per cent overall. The biggest gainer in the first two months of 2011 is samarium oxide (160 per cent), followed by neodymium oxide (92 per cent), cerium oxide (81 per cent) and praseodymium oxide (79 per cent). The lowest increase was for terbium oxide at 29 per cent. Foster said it expects even further tightness ahead in the REE market.

However, then take a look at the changes in the last two weeks of February – they are astonishing, too.

We just happened to also receive the latest rare earths and minor metals report from Sydney-based Resource Capital Research (RCR) which took prices as at February 16. Contrast those with figures posted by Lynas as of February 28, less than two weeks later.

Lanthanum: RCR quotes $US73/kg on May 16, Lynas $US92.1/kg on February 28.

Cerium: $US71 and $US95.10 respectively.

Neodymium: $US124.50 and $US156

Praseodymium: $US114.50 and $US140.50

Samarium: $US61 and $US95.10

Europium: $US650 and $US800

Terbium: $US630 and $US800

Dysprosium: $US410 and $US460

The RCR figures show a 1611 per cent gain for cerium for the 12 months to February 16, 1256 per cent for samarium and 1227 per cent for lanthanum.

Also of interest is a Lynas presentation out this week. Most of it will be familiar to RareMetalBlog readers, but the company presents its latest projections on the supply-demand front for 2014. Of Mt Weld’s REE composition, only three elements are projected to be in surplus three years from now: cerium in surplus by 13,500 tonnes (mainly in China), samarium 1800 tonnes (although in short supply outside China) and gadolinium at 500 tonnes and in general oversupply.

For all the other Mt Weld products, deficits loom. The world will be short 13,800 tonnes of lanthanum in 2014, 6100 tonnes of praseodymium, 13,000 tonnes of neodymium, 165 tonnes of europium, 350 tonnes of terbium, 1400 tonnes of dysprosium and 3300 tonnes of yttrium.

Back to RCR. This report, apart from general price and production analyses, also has detailed breakdowns of several REE companies – Alkane Resources, Arafura Resources, Avalon Rare Metals, Globe Metals & Mining and Lynas Corp.