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Defense Metals Provides Pre-Pilot Hydrometallurgy Update, Achieves High Rare Earth Extraction And Impurity Removal From Wicheeda Flotation Concentrate

News Release – Vancouver, British Columbia – May 11, 2021: Defense Metals Corp. (“Defense Metals” or the “Company”) (TSX-V:DEFN / OTCQB:DFMTF / FSE:35D) is pleased to provide an update regarding its ongoing pre-pilot hydrometallurgical test work utilizing high-grade rare earth element (REE) mineral concentrate produced during the Company’s highly successful 26-tonne flotation pilot-plant that yielded a mineral concentrate averaging 7.4% NdPr oxide (neodymium-praseodymium)[1].

The road accessible Wicheeda REE Property is located close to infrastructure approximately 80 kilometres northeast of Prince George, British Columbia (BC). The Wicheeda project has indicated mineral resources of 4,890,000 tonnes averaging 3.02% LREO (Light Rare Earth Elements) and inferred mineral resources of 12,100,000 tonnes averaging 2.90% LREO[2].

Highlights of ongoing infill hydrometallurgical test results, which centred around optimizing caustic crack-acid leach conditions, and leach liquor impurity removal conducted at SGS Canada Inc. (“SGS”) Lakefield, Ontario Site are as follows:

  • High REE extraction (using neodymium as a proxy, Figure 1) for base case bench and bulk (3 kg) caustic crack across the range of test conditions in comparison to initial 2019/2020 bench test work (see Defense Metals News Release dated February 16, 2021). 
  • Comparable REE extraction via direct crack of mineral concentrate shows promise with calculated neodymium extraction within a 5% range of the base case. 
  • The success of direct crack test results opens up the potential of future optimization work to reduce circuit complexity though potential elimination of gangue leaching and associated solid-liquid separation steps.
  • Primary impurity removal tests on leach liquor at terminal pH yield very efficient Th and Fe removal (>99% Th and >95% Fe) at negligible Nd losses (Figure 2).  

Ongoing hydrometallurgical optimisation test work being conducted at SGS Lakefield is expected to be completed over the next 4-6 weeks resulting in finalization of a base-case flowsheet to inform operation of a future hydrometallurgical pilot plant.  Final test work is expected to focus on secondary impurity removal and the production of a purified mixed REE precipitate and on the regeneration of hydrochloric acid.  

Craig Taylor, CEO of Defense Metals, stated: “Defense Metals continues to be extremely pleased with its ongoing pre-pilot hydrometallurgical test work campaign. These latest results establish that stable REE extractions are achievable across a range of test conditions bracketing our emerging base case flowsheet. Significantly, direct crack REE extractions were similarly high opening up the door for potential circuit complexity and future capital cost reductions. Primary impurity removal test show that at the bench scale we can produce a high quality REE leach liquor suitable for conversion to mixed REE oxide end product.”

About the Wicheeda REE Property

The 1,708 hectare Wicheeda REE Property, located approximately 80 km northeast of the city of Prince George, British Columbia, is readily accessible by all-weather gravel roads and is nearby to infrastructure, including power transmission lines, the CN railway and major highways.

Geologically, the property is situated in the Foreland Belt and within the Rocky Mountain Trench, a major continental geologic feature. The Foreland Belt contains part of a large alkaline igneous province, stretching from the Canadian Cordillera to the southwestern United States, which includes several carbonatite and alkaline intrusive complexes hosting the Aley (niobium), Rock Canyon (REE), and Wicheeda (REE) deposits.

Qualified Person

The scientific and technical information contained in this news release as it relates to the Wicheeda REE Property has been reviewed and approved by Kristopher J. Raffle, P.Geo. (BC) Principal and Consultant of APEX Geoscience Ltd. of Edmonton, AB, a director of Defense Metals and a “Qualified Person” as defined in National Instrument 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects. Mr. Raffle verified the data disclosed which includes a review of the analytical and test data underlying the information and opinions contained therein.  

Methodology and QA/QC

Hydrometallurgical product assays for neodymium was determined via lithium-borate fusion of a 0.5-gram sample analyzed via wavelength dispersion X-ray fluorescence (WD-XRF). The remaining rare earth elements for the head sample were determined via 0.5-gram sodium-peroxide fusion multi-element ICP-MS.

The SGS analyses included a quality assurance / quality control (QA/QC) program including the insertion of rare earth element standard and blank samples. Defense Metals detected no significant QA/QC issues during review of the data. Defense Metals is not aware of any drilling, sampling, recovery or other factors that could materially affect the accuracy or reliability of the data referred to herein. SGS is an ISO/IEC 17025 and ISO9001:2015 accredited laboratory. SGS is independent of Defense Metals Corp.

About Defense Metals Corp.

Defense Metals Corp. is a mineral exploration company focused on the acquisition of mineral deposits containing metals and elements commonly used in the electric power market, military, national security and the production of “GREEN” energy technologies, such as, high strength alloys and rare earth magnets. Defense Metals has an option to acquire 100% of the 1,708 hectare Wicheeda Rare Earth Element Property located near Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. Defense Metals Corp. trades in Canada under the symbol “DEFN” on the TSX Venture Exchange, in the United States, under “DFMTF” on the OTCQB and in Germany on the Frankfurt Exchange under “35D”.

For further information, please contact:

Todd Hanas, Bluesky Corporate Communications Ltd. 

Vice President, Investor Relations 

Tel: (778) 994 8072

Email: todd@blueskycorp.ca

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this news release.

Cautionary Statement Regarding “Forward-Looking” Information

This news release contains “forward‐looking information or statements” within the meaning of applicable securities laws, which may include, without limitation, statements relating to the ongoing optimization test work and the expected outcomes, operation of a future hydrometallurgical pilot plant, plans for its Wicheeda Property, the advancement and development of the Wicheeda Property, the technical, financial and business prospects of the Company, its project and other matters. All statements in this news release, other than statements of historical facts, that address events or developments that the Company expects to occur, are forward-looking statements. Although the Company believes the expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are not guarantees of future performance and actual results may differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. Such statements and information are based on numerous assumptions regarding present and future business strategies and the environment in which the Company will operate in the future, including the price of rare earth elements, the ability to achieve its goals, that general business and economic conditions will not change in a material adverse manner, that financing will be available if and when needed and on reasonable terms. Such forward-looking information reflects the Company’s views with respect to future events and is subject to risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including those filed under the Company’s profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. While such estimates and assumptions are considered reasonable by the management of the Company, they are inherently subject to significant business, economic, competitive and regulatory uncertainties and risks. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward looking statements include, but are not limited to, continued availability of capital and financing and general economic, market or business conditions, adverse weather conditions, failure to maintain or obtain all necessary government permits, approvals and authorizations, failure to maintain community acceptance (including First Nations), decrease in the price of rare earth elements, the impact of Covid-19 or other viruses and diseases on the Company’s ability to operate, increase in costs, litigation, and failure of counterparties to perform their contractual obligations. The Company does not undertake to update forward‐looking statements or forward‐looking information, except as required by law. 


[1] See Defense Metals News Release dated September 23, 2020

[2] Technical Report on the Wicheeda Property, British Columbia, effective June 27, 2020 and prepared by APEX Geoscience Ltd. (Steven J. Nicholls, B.A. Sc., MAIG and Kristopher J. Raffle, B.Sc., P.Geo.) is available under Defense Metals Corp.’s profile on SEDAR (www.sedar.com)