“We started developing the technology from very small scale. You need to be careful — it’s a difficult task. Separating earth elements is one of the most complex chemical processes in the world. Our idea was that we will have our own technology and that will help us to build a mine. The leverage really came when we started developing this technology. We decided that we didn’t want to have a black box where nobody knows how it works and we need to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to build a mine. Instead, we started going towards proving that our technology works by processing existing feeds. The best existing feed is an industrial residue, which is coming from the main application of rare earths — permanent magnets.
We realized that we could demonstrate through a full commercial plant that rare earths processing can be done here using our technology, which does not use organic solvents, in a way that is competitive to China. And we could generate cash flows. Then we can build our own mine and build a larger plant to process concentrates from other mines.
Our leverage is the processing facility and the technology.