Defense Metals (TSX-V: DEFN)(OTC: DFMTF) CEO Craig Taylor on Mineral Concentrate Requests from Refiners & Next Steps for Flagship Wicheeda REE (Rare Earth Element) Project, British Columbia, Canada
Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the CEO of Defense Metals — Mr. Craig Taylor. Craig, happy Monday. How are you today?
Craig Taylor: Good, good. How are you doing?
Gerardo Del Real: I am doing well. Thank you very much for asking. You had some important news this morning that I reached out for a comment about because I think it's significant moving forward. Let me read the headline, and I'll allow you to provide the context. The headline reads:
Defense Metals prepares additional high-grade rare earth element concentrate samples for evaluation by leading global rare earth producers.
I say that I think it's significant because this isn't the first request that you've received. And they're starting to add up. Can you give us some details there?
Craig Taylor: Yeah, absolutely. We have our 1,200 kilos of high-grade concentrate sitting at SGS Labs, which we produced through our pilot plant last year. Now, that's ready to be taken to end-users, to smelters, to manufacturers for processing.
When we hired Welsbach, they've got all of those connections; you probably remember that release. And they've been taking it out to their network, and we're getting a fantastic response.
So we've got four requests now. And these requests are substantial because they'll take our concentrate; they'll test it; if they feel it's up to their standards or up to their specs — which they basically already know from our data but they still have to test the product — that'll allow them to write an MOU with us for an offtake agreement.
That could mean potential funding and future project financing. So it's really a significant step. I really don't see anyone else in North America, other than a couple of majors, that have the ability to do that.
Gerardo Del Real: You highlight in the release that these requests represent the third and fourth REE concentrated valuation requests. You mentioned discussions are ongoing with several other parties. How is that coming along as far as what you can speak on?
Craig Taylor: I'm anticipating we're going to get several more in the next weeks to months. Now, the problem is, to ship this to them, it's about a 4-to-5 week process just because we have to pass it through the Canadian government and their export group.
We'll get that out there. I'm hoping to get some definitive answers in the next four to five weeks on their interest level. But there's definitely going to be some more requests coming down the pipeline.
Gerardo Del Real: Excellent! You recently retained SRK Consulting to complete a project economic scenario analysis. How is that coming along?
Craig Taylor: That's great. I signed the work order the other day. So they're getting started. And that's significant because they're very knowledgeable in the NdPr [Neodymium-Praseodymium] space given that they did the Mountain Pass PEA; so they’re up to date.
It's a favorable time for us also to come up with a PEA since NdPr prices have more than doubled since December. I'm hoping for good things through that process. I think that'll be about 8 to 10 weeks when we see that. And that'll lead us into a drill program in the summer.
Gerardo Del Real: That's a lot of news flow here moving forward. I know it's a down day in the market; pullbacks happen. Anything else to add to that, Craig?
Craig Taylor: No. But we're still working towards our pilot plant with SGS on the hydromet side. We're working out the details with them. But I'm also hoping to start that in the summer as well.
All of those things combined, I think, we'll de-risk and advance our project further in hopes of getting to the pre-feas stage by the fall or early-2022.
Gerardo Del Real: Fantastic! Craig, thanks for coming on on short notice. I appreciate your time.
Craig Taylor: Okay, thanks, Gerardo.
Gerardo Del Real: Chat soon.