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Ucore advances on the road to heavy rare earth production

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Published on Nov 7, 2013

Tracy Weslosky, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of InvestorIntel interviews Jim McKenzie, President and CEO of Ucore Rare Metals Inc. (TSXV: UCU | OTCQX: UURAF) to discuss the company's recently released resource update for its flagship Bokan Dotson-Ridge Rare Earth (REE) Project in southeast Alaska, as well as some of the other milestones Ucore has achieved to date, Jim's take on the recent WTO ruling against China and its REE industry, and what investors can look forward to as Ucore advances on the road to REE production. Ucore's 100% owned Bokan Dotson-Ridge Project is particularly enriched with heavy rare earth elements (HREEs), including the critical elements dysprosium, terbium and yttrium.

Tracy starts by asking Jim to comment on Ucore's recent upgraded resource estimate. "That was a significant piece of information we just put out," explains McKenzie. "It was the culmination of $12 million in expenditures, so even though the release came out and it's exhausted in one day, the fact is that was the result of a great deal of effort. And we are very proud of it. The resource estimate has been upgraded to the better part of an indicated resource, from what was previously an inferred resourced. We're now at 'indicated;' the highest is 'measured' and we are moving in that direction."

Recapping the sizable accomplishments made by Ucore this year, Jim stated: "2013 has been a gangbuster year for us, notwithstanding the fact that the resource capital markets have been a bit beleaguered, but internally -- operationally -- we've just had a tremendous year. The first deliverable that we came through with was the Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA), delivered in Q1 of this year. We think the PEA was amongst the 'best of breed' in the junior rare earth resource space; tremendous figures are associated with that. We had one of the highest internal rates of returns (IRR) in the space at 43% and a very, very respectable net present value (NPV). I think the most import figure that we came out with in the PEA was the CAPEX to get into production. It was estimated a little bit north of $200 million, which really is a small amount relative to not only the other players in the space, but to mining in general."

Regarding Ucore's continued success, McKenzie commented: "I believe the fact that we're in the US market -- addressing one of the largest and most prolific consumers of rare earths in the world -- is a big reason why we've performed reasonably well. 2012 was actually a phenomenal year for us in the markets. We outperformed, I think, by and large the entire space. This year, it's been more a matter of 'holding your own' in a very challenging market. We've succeeded in hitting benchmark after benchmark on the road to construction and production. We have delivered the resource, we've upgraded the resource, we've delivered the PEA, and we have delivered numerous other interim geopolitical benchmarks."

In closing, Tracy asks Jim to discuss what upcoming milestones investors can look forward to from Ucore. "The two remaining objectives we are looking to achieve over the year and a half to two years are delivering the Feasibility Study (FS), which is the ultimate document for any resource company looking to go into production." McKenzie explains. "The FS we are looking to deliver next year -- and a lot of smaller, subordinate items are feeding into that. The other deliverable is the NEPA permitting process. We are looking to trigger that in 2014. Every mine in the free world has to go through a permitting process of sorts -- and certainly being in the US, we are no exception -- and we will pursue that as quickly as we can."

Other topics include forthcoming updates to Ucore's metallurgical process, the State of Alaska and US Forest Service's continued strong support for Ucore, infrastructure at Bokan Dotson-Ridge, and off-take discussions.

Disclaimer: Ucore Rare Metals Inc. is an advertorial member of InvestorIntel.

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