Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) Makes Plans to Enter Promising Rare Earth Element Space
- Energy Fuels’ White Mesa Mill unique in North America in terms of diverse capabilities, licensing flexibility
- U.S. government has categorized REEs as critical to national defense, designated funds for development of REE-production capabilities
- UUUU plans to turn existing mill into “one-stop shop” for critical mineral processing, including REEs, uranium and vanadium, thereby reducing reliance on China
With its fully licensed and constructed White Mesa Mill (WMM), Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) is prepared to enter the Rare Earth Element (REE) industry. The move is in line with Energy Fuels’ strategic initiative to play a key role in bringing the REE supply chain back to the United States from China (http://nnw.fm/88lAP).
“At Energy Fuels, we pride ourselves on being the leading U.S. uranium miner,” UUUU president and CEO Mark S. Chalmers stated in a news release. “But we’re also entrepreneurs, and there is literally no other facility in North America with the diverse capabilities and licensing flexibility of the White Mesa Mill. We are always examining ways to leverage this unique asset to generate cash flow. This is where we expect REEs will come into play.”
The White Mesa Mill has a 40-year history of processing ore streams with properties similar to REE ores. This puts UUUU in the ideal position to enter the REE sector, and the company has been approached by a number of REE companies and the U.S. government evaluating UUUU’s REE capabilities. The REE industry is built around producing a group of 17 chemical elements that have a variety of industrial, energy, military and defense uses, including automotive components, communications technology, clean-energy production, consumer electronics, weapons systems, advanced magnets, lasers and numerous of other applications.
While the company’s primary focus will remain on uranium mining and production, Energy Fuels is confident its Utah-based White Mesa Mill has capacity to diversify into REE processing. As the only licensed, constructed and operating conventional uranium and vanadium processing facility in operation in the country today, WMM can be a strategic player in re-establishing the U.S. rare earth metal industry. According to a 2017 report, China has controlled more than 90% of the global supply of REEs since the late-1990s and has placed restrictions on REE exports since 2010.
As part of this initiative, Energy Fuels plans to leverage its existing licenses, infrastructure, and capabilities at the WMM to also produce REEs. UUUU has already begun evaluating the feasibility of the production of REEs at WMM while maintaining its current business as the largest uranium producer in the United States. In 2019, the WMM was also the largest U.S. producer of vanadium, another critical mineral. The company has engaged Sydney, Australia-based ANSTO, one of the world’s leading experts in the REE sector and management of radioactive materials, to assist in testing, mineralogy, flowsheet development and pilot plant engineering at the White Mesa Mill.
A major impetus behind Energy Fuels’ desire to expand its operations is the fact that the U.S. government has said that REEs are critical to national defense, designating government funds to be available for private companies that develop domestic REE-production capabilities. A leader in the U.S. uranium mining industry, UUUU is seizing the opportunity for added growth and success.
While licensing appears to be the major obstacle to the construction and operation of REE-processing facilities in the country – uranium, thorium and other radioactive elements are often associated with REE ore streams – Energy Fuels believes that its WMM facility, which has 40 years of experience processing similar materials, can successfully meet the criterion to obtain required licencing for REE production.
“We believe we have the opportunity to turn the WMM into a ‘one-stop shop’ for U.S. critical mineral processing, thereby reducing our reliance on China,” Chalmers continued. “Perhaps most importantly, the WMM is already licensed, constructed and operating today, it has extensive experience processing and handling uranium and vanadium ores and other low-level radioactive materials, and we believe it can recover REEs under our existing mill license and existing permits with only minor or routine amendments required, if any. The Trump administration has prioritized bringing REE production back to the U.S., and they are willing to invest significant dollars into supporting domestic REE infrastructure. We believe Energy Fuels holds a distinct advantage as an early mover in this high-value, high-growth sector, and we look forward to engaging with the U.S. government on this important national security initiative.”
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.EnergyFuels.com
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