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Energy Fuels Achieves Commercial Production of ‘On-Spec’ Separated Rare Earths at its White Mesa Mill in Utah, While Simultaneously Advancing Uranium Production

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Energy Fuels Achieves Commercial Production of ‘On-Spec’ Separated Rare Earths at its White Mesa Mill in Utah, While Simultaneously Advancing Uranium Production

 

 

 

 

 

Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) a leading U.S. producer of uranium, rare earth elements, and vanadium, is pleased to announce that it has achieved commercial production of separated neodymium-praseodymium at its White Mesa Mill in Utah. Critically, the NdPr produced by Energy Fuels’ meets the applicable product specifications of REE metal-makers, who specialize in the manufacture of REE-based alloys required for the permanent magnets widely used for electric motors in both battery powered electric vehicles and dual power hybrids. Further, this ‘on-spec’ NdPr is now able to be produced by Energy Fuels at the full design capacity of its new Phase 1 REE separation circuit (850 to 1,000 metric tons of NdPr per year). The Company expects to have commercial quantities of separated NdPr available for shipment by the end of June 2024. Energy Fuels believes this is the first time in several decades that a U.S. company has produced on-spec separated REE’s from monazite on a commercial scale.

 

The Company is extracting, refining and separating the NdPr from monazite produced by The Chemours Company at its heavy mineral sand operations in Florida and Georgia. Energy Fuels began piloting REE separations in 2021, and later performed partial REE separations in 2022 and 2023. The Company used this experience, having compiled several years of real-time data, to custom design and construct its new Phase 1 REE separation circuit at the Mill, which is now operating as designed. The Company would also like to highlight both the speed at which the circuit has reached full design capacity, and the fact that it has not experienced complications with start-up, which are so typical with the commissioning of new equipment and processes. Energy Fuels also completed construction of its Phase 1 REE Separation Circuit in Q1-2024 for a total cost of only about $16 million, which was significantly under the original budget of $25 million and a further testament to the capabilities of the Mill and the years of solvent extraction experience and technical expertise of Mill personnel. Also of note, the addition of REE separation processes has not hindered the ability or capacity of the Company to produce uranium at the Mill, and preparations are being made to commence a uranium ore and alternate feed uranium-bearing material processing campaign in Q3-2024.

 

During Q2-2024, the Company expects to produce about 25 to 35 tonnes of on-spec, separated NdPr from the monazite Energy Fuels has in inventory at this time. From the new circuit, Energy Fuels also expects to produce a samarium-plus (“Sm+“), “heavy” REE concentrate, while also recovering the contained uranium from the monazite feed stocks. The Company expects to utilize this Sm+ concentrate to continue pilot-scale dysprosium (“Dy“) and terbium (“Tb“) separation and to design SX circuits at the Mill able to produce these “heavy” REE products in separated individual forms at the specifications required for metal and alloy making. Currently, there is no company in the Western Hemisphere capable of commercially producing separated, on-spec Dy, Tb, or other “heavy” REE products. NdPr, Dy, and Tb are known as the “magnet” REE’s, as they are key and necessary ingredients in the powerful magnets used in the most efficient EVs, dual power hybrid vehicles, direct-drive wind energy, military and defense technologies, and other clean energy applications.

 

Following completion of NdPr production at the Mill in Q2-2004, the Company expects to begin processing uranium ore and alternate feed materials from our current stockpiles, resulting in the expected production of 150,000 to 500,000 pounds of U3O8 during 2024, with production ramping up further in 2025. As previously announced, Energy Fuels has also acquired, or is in the process of acquiring, several HMS projects to secure monazite, which we believe will be globally cost-competitive, to supply future REE separation at the Mill. This includes the Bahia Project in Brazil that the Company acquired in February 2023, the Donald Project joint venture that the Company announced on June 3, 2024, and the pending acquisition of Base Resources and the Toliara Project in Madagascar, which in aggregate have the potential to make Energy Fuels one of the largest separated REE producers in the world. The Company expects to receive material quantities of monazite from these projects commencing as early as 2026. In the meantime, the Company plans to focus operations on an aggressive campaign of uranium production during the second half of 2024, all of 2025, and thereafter to supply U.S. uranium into the Company’s portfolio of uranium contracts with U.S. nuclear utilities, in addition to additional spot and contract sales into uranium market strength.

 

MARK S. CHALMERS, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF ENERGY FUELS STATED:

 

“We have achieved a significant milestone for the Energy Fuels, for Utah, and for the United States: the commercial production of separated rare earths that meet applicable product specifications, while simultaneously ramping up domestic uranium production aggressively. I wish to congratulate the entire team at the White Mesa Mill for bringing commercial rare earth separation capabilities and expertise back to the United States, and for achieving this major accomplishment ahead of schedule and under budget. With this announcement, Energy Fuels can confirm the return of separated rare earth production from monazite back to the United States after a multi-decade absence, in addition to the return of technological know-how and expertise in this extremely important field that is critical to national and economic security.

 

“Due to the overwhelming success of Energy Fuels’ Phase 1 REE separation project, Energy Fuels can now continue to advance its rare earth initiatives with an extremely high degree of confidence. This includes a potential expansion of standalone rare earth separation capabilities at the Mill to 4,000 to 6,000 tonnes of NdPr per year, along with 150 to 225 tonnes of Dy, and 50 to 75 tonnes of Tb, through development of our planned Phase 2 and Phase 3 REE separation circuits. While our recently commissioned Phase 1 Separation circuit is globally significant and would rank the Company as one of the leading producers of separated REEs in the world outside of China, our planned Phase 2 and Phase 3 Separation Circuits would truly be world-class. In addition, we are building a world-class portfolio of heavy mineral sand assets to control our supply of low-cost monazite. We are also ramping-up pilot testing on ‘heavy’ rare earth separation, with a focus on Dy and Tb. Due to knowledge gained from NdPr, we are confident we will be able to produce on-spec Dy, Tb, and any other separated rare earth products and to design, engineer, permit, construct and commission our Phase 2 and Phase 3 REE separation circuits within budget and time-frame expectations. Our capital investments in the planned Phase 2 and Phase 3 REE separation circuits will be conditional on receipt of suitable customer and/or government backing in the form of supply agreements, offtake agreements and/or financial support. We believe we are in an enviable position to secure this support, based on our proven rare earth processing, refining and separation capabilities and the world-class monazite supply chain we have secured and are securing. I am very pleased that all things are coming together and that we are emerging as a leading U.S. rare earth producer, in addition to advancing our position as a U.S-leading producer of uranium and vanadium.

 

“Once we conclude this run of separated NdPr, we plan to focus on the processing of our substantial stockpiled uranium ore and alternate feed material inventories at the Mill and the continued ramp-up of our uranium mining, production and sales. At the same time, we plan to design and permit a world-class expansion of REE separation at the Mill — which is only about four to six times greater than what we have already achieved. Importantly, we will also continue to market our REE products to customers and evaluate government funding collaborations.”

 

ABOUT ENERGY FUELS

 

Energy Fuels is a leading US-based uranium and critical minerals company. The Company, as a leading producer of uranium in the United States, mines uranium and produces natural uranium concentrates that are sold to major nuclear utilities for the production of carbon-free nuclear energy. Energy Fuels recently began production of advanced REE materials, including mixed REE carbonate in 2021, and commenced production of commercial quantities of separated REEs in 2024. Energy Fuels also produces vanadium from certain of its projects, as market conditions warrant, and is evaluating the recovery of radionuclides needed for emerging cancer treatments. Its corporate offices are in Lakewood, Colorado, near Denver, and substantially all its assets and employees are in the United States. Energy Fuels holds two of America’s key uranium production centers: the White Mesa Mill in Utah and the Nichols Ranch in-situ recovery Project in Wyoming. The White Mesa Mill is the only conventional uranium mill operating in the US today, has a licensed capacity of over 8 million pounds of U3O8 per year, and has the ability to produce vanadium when market conditions warrant, as well as REE products, from various uranium-bearing ores. The Nichols Ranch ISR Project is on standby and has a licensed capacity of 2 million pounds of U3O8 per year. The Company recently acquired the Bahia Project in Brazil and entered into a joint venture agreement to develop the Donald Project in Australia, each of which is believed to have significant quantities of titanium (ilmenite and rutile), zirconium (zircon) and REE (monazite) minerals. In addition to the above production facilities, Energy Fuels also has one of the largest NI 43-101 compliant uranium resource portfolios in the US and several uranium and  uranium/vanadium mining projects in production, on standby and in various stages of permitting and development.

Posted June 10, 2024

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