Junior exploration company Ucore Rare Metals (TSX-V: UCU) has announced that the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a division of the US Department of the Interior, has moved to increase its involvement at the company's Bokan Mountain Heavy Rare Earth project in Southeast Alaska, after awarding a significant research grant to study the rare earth and uranium deposit last year.
In addition to the study that is being conducted by the geological departments of four Canadian universities, the USGS has now sent a team of geoscientists to Bokan to further understand the area's Heavy Rare Earth (HREE) mineralogy, believed to be the largest historically documented HREE deposit in the United States.
Based on the results of its fieldwork, the USGS intends to utilize the Dotson Ridge area of Bokan as a means of analyzing vein-type REE deposits and alternative REE deposits associated with alkaline-peralkaline complexes.
The USGS team examined multiple areas comprising the Bokan Complex, the Dotson Shear, Geoduck, Wennie, and Geiger zones. Research was also conducted at the Sunday Lake zone, an area which has yielded among the highest HREE grades on record for a North American rare earth deposit, said Ucore.
Terbium and dysprosium are of particular interest, as they are among the most scarce and valuable metals in the world, and have been found in anomalously high grades in the Bokan area.
"The U.S. government is quite interested in these minerals because they are of military importance," said Dr. Anthony Mariano, an expert in rare earth mineralogy who was involved in the USGS fieldwork.
China has moved to decrease the export of these metals to the US, and thereby securing short and long term supplies within the US is of increasing importance.
"Scientific studies by the USGS have been, and will continue to be, of great benefit as we integrate their studies with our exploration data and move toward defining a resource at Bokan," said president and CEO of Ucore, Jim McKenzie.
In April this year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report detailing the likelihood of national security risks arising from U.S. dependency upon rare earth elements from non domestic sources such as China.
The U.S. Department of Defense is due to complete its assessment of this dependency in September 2010.
The Bokan - Dotson Ridge project, which is 100% owned by Ucore, is located 60 km southwest of Ketchikan, Alaska and 140 km northwest of Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The project area is served by barge and float plane from Ketchikan, with a pre-existing road network providing access to the main target areas.
REE mineralization at the Bokan-Dotson Ridge project is structurally controlled in multiple dikes and veins radial to a peralkaline intrusive complex.
In 1989, a U.S. Bureau of Mines study estimated that the greater Bokan area contains 37.8 million tons at an average grade of 0.50% TREO. This historical, non NI 43-101 complaint estimate, equates to 374 million lbs of contained TREO.
Ucore`s stock has jumped more than 10% to $0.435 as of 12:00pm ET on Thursday on the TSX-Venture Exchange.