Investing

Energy Fuels

Overview

Energy Fuels (TSX:EFR,NYSE:UUUU) has been the largest producer of uranium in the United States and an emerging producer of rare earth elements (REEs). The company is also a major producer of vanadium when market conditions warrant. The company’s portfolio of assets positions it to contribute meaningfully to some of the most important challenges faced by the world today – climate change and energy security. Uranium remains the core business for Energy Fuels; however, the company is rapidly expanding its REE capacity, as well.

Energy Fuels is the only uranium producer with both conventional production and in-situ recovery (ISR) in the US. Its 100-percent-owned White Mesa Mill is the only conventional uranium mill in the country with a licensed capacity of over 8 million pounds (Mlbs) of U3O8 per year. The company also owns the Nichols Ranch uranium recovery facility in Wyoming, which is a fully permitted uranium ISR facility with a licensed capacity of 2 Mlbs of U3O8 per year. The Nichols Ranch project is currently being maintained on standby.

Favorable uranium market conditions prompted Energy Fuels to ramp up uranium production at three permitted and developed uranium mines in Arizona and Utah. Once production is fully ramped up at Pinyon Plain, La Sal and Pandora, the company expects to produce uranium at a run rate of 1.1 to 1.4 million pounds per year. Ore mined from the three sites in 2024 will be stockpiled at the White Mesa Mill in Utah for processing in late-2024 or 2025.

The company is also preparing the Whirlwind and Nichols Ranch mines to commence uranium production within one year, potentially increasing uranium production to over two million pounds of U3O8 annually starting in 2025.

In addition to its core uranium business, Energy Fuels is building out its rare earth element (REE) production and processing at the White Mesa Mill. The company recently completed construction of phase 1 rare earth oxide production with the capacity to produce 800 to 1,000 metric tons (MT) of neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) oxide per year. The company is designing phase 2 and 3, which will increase NdPr oxide production to 4,000 to 6,000 MT per year, while also adding commercial scale “heavy” rare earth production, including terbium (Tb) and dysprosium (Dy).

In December 2023, Energy Fuels and Astron Corporation executed a non-binding MOU to jointly develop the Donald Mineral sands project, a large heavy mineral sand deposit that has the potential to supply Energy Fuels with approximately 7,000 tonnes of rare earth-bearing monazite sand per year starting in 2026, ramping up to 14,000 tonnes per year soon after.

Further to becoming a global leader in critical minerals production, in April 2023, Energy Fuels executed a definitive scheme implementation deed with Base Resources (ASX:BSE,AIM:BSE) to acquire 100 percent of the issued shares of Base Resources. The acquisition includes Base Resources’ 100 percent-owned advanced, world-class Toliara heavy mineral sands project in Madagascar.

Vanadium and medical isotopes present another long-term growth opportunity for Energy Fuels. White Mesa Mill is a significant US producer of vanadium (V2O5), and the only primary producer in the US It currently holds 0.9 Mlbs in inventory and aims to selectively produce and sell into the market based on the strength of price. The company also continues to evaluate the potential to recover medical isotopes from its existing uranium and vanadium process streams. These isotopes are required for emerging cancer therapies.

Sustainability is a key part of the company’s focus. It is committed to recycling naturally bearing uranium and vanadium materials. White Mesa Mill has a separate circuit for processing alternate feed materials, thereby promoting sustainable sourcing, reducing carbon emissions and saving resources.

Further, the company benefits from a management team with a record of building and operating both conventional and ISR uranium mines globally.

Company Highlights

Energy Fuels is one of the largest producers of uranium in the United States and an emerging producer of rare earth elements (REEs), all of which are key inputs in the production of clean energy.The company is currently ramping-up uranium production with a goal to achieve 2 million pounds of uranium production in the short-term.The company’s White Mesa Mill, located in Utah is the only conventional uranium and vanadium recovery facility operating in the US, having a licensed capacity of over 8 million pounds of U3O8 per year.In addition, the company also owns multiple uranium and uranium/vanadium properties which are in pre-production or on standby, plus three large-scale projects that are in the permitting stage and have potential to produce more than 4 million pounds of additional U3O8 per year.Energy Fuels is building the first fully integrated REE supply chain in the US. The White Mesa Mill has the licenses and capability to handle and process radioactive materials in the REE-bearing monazite sands and produce advanced REE products.The company recently completed construction of a circuit capable of producing up to 1,000 tpa of NdPr oxide per year, a key ingredient in permanent rare earth magnets needed in EVs, wind energy and military and defense technologies.The acquisition of the Bahia project (Brazil) in February 2023 ensures the availability of low-cost REE-bearing monazite sands to the White Mesa Mill for decades.The company is also in the process of acquiring the Toliara project in Africa and the Donald project in Australia – both containing large quantities of monazite resources. The company’s products have the key ESG attributes needed to address climate change. Uranium is the key fuel for zero-carbon baseload nuclear energy; vanadium is suitable for grid-scale batteries; REEs for clean energy technologies such as EVs and wind power generation.

Key Projects

White Mesa Mill, Utah

White Mesa Mill, located near Blanding, San Juan County, Utah, is the only conventional uranium, vanadium and REE recovery facility operating in the US, with a licensed capacity of over 8 Mlbs of U3O8 per year. In addition to uranium, the Mill has a separate vanadium by-product recovery circuit, and a stand-alone NdPr separation circuit. The company is planning to increase NdPr oxide capacity from 1,000 MT to 4,000 to 6,000 MT per year, while also adding commercial scale “heavy” rare earth production, including terbium (Tb) and dysprosium (Dy). When in full operation, the mill employs approximately 150 people. .

The White Mesa Mill has a separate circuit for recycling alternate feed materials, which are other uranium-bearing materials, not derived from conventional ore. Recycling materials back into the market contributes to Energy Fuels’ commitment to sustainability.

The mill has been producing and selling mixed rare earth carbonate from REE-bearing monazite sands since 2021.

In early 2023, the company began modifying and enhancing its circuits at the Mill (phase 1) to be able to produce separated REE oxides. Phase 1 was completed significantly under-budget and on-time in Q1-2024, with the capacity to produce roughly 800 to 1,000 MT of NdPr oxide per year. It is then planned for a further increase to 4,000 – 6,000 MT by 2026/27 (phase 2). A phase 3 program to produce heavy separated REE products, such as dysprosium, terbium and potentially other advanced REE materials, is expected to be completed by 2027/28.

The input (REE-bearing monazite sands) needed to produce these REEs will be supplied by the Bahia project (Brazil), which was acquired by Energy Fuels in February 2023, along with the Toliara and Donald projects (if announced transactions are completed).

Nichols Ranch, Wyoming

Nichols Ranch is an ISR uranium mine located in the productive Powder River Basin district of Wyoming, with a total licensed capacity of 2 Mlbs of U3O8 per year. Energy Fuels acquired this key production asset in 2015 through its acquisition of Uranerz Energy Corporation.

The project is currently on standby and restoration, pending market conditions improving sufficiently to resume production. The company will need to incur capital expenditures to develop additional wellfields, as all existing wellfields are now depleted.

The Nichols Ranch ISR project has measured and indicated mineral resources of nearly 7 Mlbs of uranium and inferred resource estimate of 1.3 Mlbs of uranium.

Pinyon Plain Project, Arizona

The Pinyon Plain mine is a development-stage high-grade uranium mine located in Arizona. Acquired by Energy Fuels in 2012, the mine is currently in the pre-production stage with ongoing work including installing surface ventilation fans, secondary egress equipment and other underground development work. The mine hosts proven and probable uranium reserves at 1.6 Mlbs at average grades of 0.60 percent U3O8, along with additional indicated mineral resources of 0.70 Mlbs at average grades of 0.95 percent. The company plans to complete an underground drilling program in 2024 to potentially expand the reserves and resources.

La Sal Complex, Utah

The La Sal Project is an existing complex comprising seven individual underground uranium mines and properties in eastern Utah, including the Beaver, Pandora, La Sal, Energy Queen and Redd Block Project. As of September 30, 2023, the company was performing rehabilitation and development work on its La Sal Project. This additional work will make the La Sal Project “mine ready” should market conditions warrant reopening of the mine.

La Sal hosts inferred mineral resources of 4.3 Mlbs of uranium and 17.8 Mlbs of vanadium at average grades of 0.26 percent U3O8 and 1.08 percent V2O5.

Sheep Mountain Project, Wyoming

The Sheep Mountain project, also located in Wyoming, includes an open-pit operation (the Congo pit), as well as the existing Sheep Mountain underground mine. The project is in Jeffrey City, Wyoming, and is easily accessible via airport and road. The project is currently on standby, pending evaluation of the processing options for the Sheep Mountain Project and improvement in market conditions.

The project has a resource estimate of approximately 4.2 million tons of measured and indicated resources at an average grade of 0.11 percent U3O8, including 18.4 Mlbs of probable mineral reserves. The pre-feasibility study estimates the project can produce up to 1.5 Mlbs of U3O8 annually over a 15-year mine life.

Roca Honda Project, New Mexico

The project is in McKinley County in New Mexico, covering an area of 4,440 acres. It is located within trucking distance of the White Mesa Mill and as such, materials mined from the project are to be processed at the White Mesa mill. The project is adjacent to General Atomics’ Mount Taylor mine and could see similar success. The Roca Honda Project is in the advanced stage of permitting.

The project has measured and indicated resources estimated at 1.8 million tons, with an average grade of 0.48 percent U3O8 containing 17.6 Mlbs U3O8, and inferred mineral resources estimated at 1.5 million tons of U3O8 with an average grade of 0.46 percent U3O8 containing 13.8 Mlbs U3O8. Once operational, it could produce up to 2.7 Mlb U3O8 annually with a nine-year mine life.

Bullfrog Project, Utah

The project is located in eastern Garfield County, Utah, covering 2,344 acres. The property is 100 percent owned by the company and was acquired in 2012. There is no existing infrastructure on the Bullfrog Property.

The project has measured and indicated resources estimated at 1.56 million tons, with an average grade of 0.29 percent U3O8 containing 9.1 Mlbs U3O8 and inferred mineral resources estimated at 0.41 million tons of U3O8 with an average grade of 0.25 percent U3O8 containing 2.0 Mlbs U3O8. The project is currently in the permitting stage.

Monazite Supply Chains

Energy Fuels is securing three monazite assets: the Bahia project in Brazil, the Donald project in Australia, and the Toliara project in Africa.

Bahia Project, – Brazil

The Bahia project, a well-known heavy mineral sand (HMS) deposit, covers a total area of 15,089.71 hectares and has the potential to supply 3,000 to 10,000 metric tons of natural monazite concentrate per year for decades. Aside from REE-bearing monazite, the Bahia Project is also expected to produce large quantities of high-quality titanium (ilmenite and rutile) and zirconium (zircon) minerals. REE production is highly complementary to Energy Fuels’ existing US-leading uranium business, as monazite and other major REE-bearing minerals naturally contain uranium that will be recovered and other impurities that will be removed at the Mill before further processing into advanced high-purity REE materials. Drilling at the project is underway and resource estimate is expected in late 2024 or 2025.

Donald Project – Australia

The Donald rare earth and mineral sands project is located in the Wimmera Region in Victoria, Australia and is a world-class, world-scale, ‘shovel-ready’ critical mineral deposit. Energy Fuels believes Donald will provide another near-term, low-cost, and large-scale source of monazite sand in an REE concentrate that would be transported to the company’s White Mesa Mill in Utah. The company is currently negotiating definitive JV agreements with Astron Resources under which Energy Fuels will receive all monazite produced from the project.

Toliara Project – Madagascar

Toliara is a significant, long-life, and large-scale mineral sand deposit located in the southwest portion of Madagascar. According to a 2023 Preliminary Feasibility Study( PFS), Toliara is expected to produce an average of 1,033 kt heavy mineral sands per annum (including rutile, ilmenite and zircon), along with 21.8 kt per annum of rare earth bearing monazite. The PFS reports a post-tax NPV10 of $2.0 billion, 32.4% IRR, and $371 million of annual EBITDA. The company is acquiring Toliara through a proposed acquisition of Base Resources, which is expected to be completed by the Fall of 2024, subject to closing.

Management Team

Mark Chalmers – President and CEO

Mark Chalmers brings a wealth of experience in mining and mineral processing to his position. Prior to his promotion to CEO in 2018, he served as president and chief operating officer of Energy Fuels. Chalmers is an expert in ISR uranium production and has managed the Beverley Uranium Mine owned by General Atomics (Australia) and the Highland Mine owned by Cameco Corporation (USA). Additionally, he has consulted several large players in the uranium supply sector, including BHP, Rio Tinto and Marubeni. He has served as the chair of the Australian Uranium Council for 10 years. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mining engineering from the University of Arizona and is a registered professional engineer.

David Frydenlund – Executive Vice-president, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary

David Frydenlund has over 35 years in the mining and energy sectors with expertise in regulatory and environmental laws and regulations at the state and federal levels. Frydenlund served as the vice-president of regulatory affairs, general counsel, and corporate secretary of Denison Mines. and its predecessor, International Uranium Corporation (IUC). He was also a director at IUC and served as Chief Financial Officer. He was the vice-president of the Lundin Group, a collection of international public mining and oil and gas companies. He also worked as a partner at the Vancouver law firm of Ladner Downs (now Borden Ladner Gervais), specializing in corporate, securities and international mining transactions law.

Curtis Moore – VP of Marketing & Corporate Development

Curtis Moore is involved in overseeing product marketing, public relations, investor relations and government relations, as well as M&A, strategy and legal matters. He has been working with Energy Fuels for over 15 years in various leadership positions. Before Energy Fuels, Moore worked in diverse fields, including multi-family real estate development, government relations and public affairs, production homebuilding, and private law practice. He earned a Juris Doctor degree and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Additionally, he holds a dual bachelor’s degree in economics-government from Claremont McKenna College.

J. Birks Bovaird – Chairman of the Board

J. Birks Bovaird has served as an independent director of several public resource companies including GTA Resources and Mining (TSXV:GTA) and Noble Mineral Exploration (TSXV:NOB). He brings extensive experience in corporate financial consulting and strategic planning. He holds an ICD.D designation.

This post appeared first on investingnews.com

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