Energy Fuels preparing 4 uranium mines for production

The White Mesa uranium mill in Utah

The White Mesa uranium mill in Utah

6th November 2023

By: Mariaan Webb

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online


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US-based critical minerals company Energy Fuels is preparing four of its convention uranium mines for production, CEO Mark Chalmers reported on Friday.

Together, these mines have the ability to produce between 1 million and 1.3-million pounds a year of uranium, excluding potential vanadium credits of about 2-million pounds a year.

“We expect to begin production at one or more of these mines by early 2024, with the mined material being stockpiled at the White Mesa mill [in Utah] until a sufficient quantity is accumulated to justify a mill campaign, which is expected to occur in late-2024 or early-2025, subject to contract requirements and successful operations,” he said.

Chalmers added that there were “significant tailwinds” driving uranium markets, including higher prices and government policies.

“Uranium spot prices are up over 50% in 2023, which is improving our expected contract sales prices, increasing the value of our significant inventories, and increasing the value of our resources. At the same time, uranium spot markets are very tight, considerable money is flowing into the sector, geopolitical factors and security of supply are paramount, and market prices remain significantly at or below the levels needed to incentivise large-scale new production and below inflation-adjusted highs. These dynamics could cause prices to continue to rise higher, perhaps significantly so,” he commented in a statement accompanying Energy Fuels’ third-quarter results.

During the September quarter, the company completed the sale of 180 000 lb of uranium oxide (U3O8) to a major US nuclear utility for $10.47-million, or $58.18/lb, which resulted in gross profit of $5.21-million, or $28.93/lb U3O8.

The sale resulted in a gross margin of 50% per pound of uranium.

In 2023, Energy Fuels has sold a total of 560 000 lb of uranium for a weighted average realised price of $59.42/lb, resulting in a gross margin of 54%.

The company has no additional contract deliveries scheduled for the remainder of 2023.

Meanwhile, Chalmers said that the company remained on schedule to complete Phase 1 of its rare earth project at White Mesa mill, which will have capacity to produce 800 t/y to 1 000 t/y of separated neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) oxide, by early 2024.

Phase 1 will have a capital cost of $25-million.

“We are refurbishing the mill's existing SX building as part of this process, and we have completed the installation of a new roof and new concrete pads for the SX cells, tanks, pumps, and other equipment. We are also receiving the new SX cells, which are expected to be installed in the fourth quarter.”

Upon successful ramp-up of the modified SX circuit and receipt of sufficient monazite feed, Energy Fuels is expected to be the first US company in many years with the ability to produce commercial quantities of NdPr oxide, which is a key ingredient in permanent rare earth magnets used in electric vehicles, wind generators and other technologies.

The company is also engineering further enhancements at the mill to increase NdPr production capacity to up to about 3 000 t/y  by 2026/27 in Phase 2 and to produce separated dysprosium and terbium and potentially other advanced rare earth element (REE) materials in the future from monazite. Phase 3 will potentially consider other REE process streams by 2027/28.

At the same time, Energy Fuels is continuing to move its Bahia rare earths project, in  Brazil, toward production and secure additional sources of monazite supply to process at the mill for rare earths production, while advancing discussions with end-users.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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