Medallion Resources Ltd (CVE:MDL) (OTCMKTS:MLLOF) is preparing to produce rare-earth magnet materials in North America through the processing of by-product monazite sands in a unique, environmentally-friendly automated process. Through a novel approach that sees the company extract and market a rare-earth concentrate, Medallion is enabling significant time and cost savings versus conventional hard rock mining.
The monazite sands that Medallion is processing are rich in neodymium and praseodymium, also known as NdPr, the critical ingredient in lightweight and powerful rare-earth magnets essential in high-value industries such as electric-vehicle (EV) manufacturing, clean energy production and even defense systems. With the increasing demands for electrification and growing strategic importance of NdPr, automakers and other industry groups are seeking sources outside of the dominant Chinese rare-earth production value chain.
In this exclusive interview with Proactive, CEO Don Lay talks about the history behind Medallion Resources, the company’s niche within the rare earths sector and where he sees value in the wider rare earths market.
Can you give us some background on the company’s origin?
The company got into the rare earth space nine years ago, during the first rare earth boom. We explored a couple of hard rock properties but a couple of years later began to work on byproduct mineral processing as the best way to get to rare earth production. Initially the company was led by Dr. Bill Bird, who had a terrific exploration background and experience with rare earths. Over the last few years we’ve been focused on a processing plan to get to rare earth production in North America.
Given the unique business model, do you view yourselves as a mining company? A tech company? Somewhere in between?
We see ourselves as a processor with proprietary processing technology and business model – certainly not as a mining company at this time. That said, most of the comparable companies – folks that are looking to get into rare earth production – are all traditional mining exploration and development companies.
Rare earths prices have been depressed for a number of years and companies have suffered as a result. Why is now a good time to invest in the sector?
Rare earth prices have remained depressed for a number of years since the pricing came off its big boom of 2010-2013, but those prices were clearly unsustainable in the long run and the market has settled back to sustainable prices. The backdrop for rare earth demand, however, is very positive. Demand is being driven by the magnet metals neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr). This is the key material in lightweight powerful magnets needed to power electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles as well as the electrification of transportation in general. This demand will not be met by current and projected production that is to come on stream.
What are some key upcoming catalysts at Medallion, and how do they position the company for further growth down the line?
Currently we are doing completing our bench-level process development testwork. We’re doing this work at the Saskatchewan Research Council and the University of Toronto. This work will be completed within a few months, at which point we are looking to engage an engineering group to start modelling the operational and capital expenditures for a processing plant. This will enable us to produce a preliminary economic study, which will take a couple of quarters. We’re also working to solidify feedstock acquisition agreements for monazite, our target mineral, for rare earth extraction.
What is your longer-term vision for the future of Medallion?
We look to provide a long-term source of supply to non-Chinese rare earth consumers, but we really do this by enabling the mineral sands miners a solution to monetize their rare earth resources outside of North America. There are significant supplies of material in Brazil, Southern Africa and Australia to supply very significant quantities of material.
Is there anything that you’d like investors to take away from our interview?
After a long bear market, it seems that there are good reasons to believe that this is an excellent time to consider investment in this sector, given the projected growth in the electric vehicle marketplace.
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