New contract for US uranium mill

31 October 2016

US uranium producer Energy Fuels Inc has entered into a contract to secure additional quantities of a uranium-bearing alternate feed material for its White Mesa mill in Utah, the company announced today.

Under the contract, the company will earn a fee for processing the alternate feed and returning finished uranium product to the material's generator. Energy Fuels described the agreement as a "substantial" project, not previously included in its business plan and resulting in a new source of revenue for 2017. The fee is expected to cover the company's processing costs with a "reasonable margin", Energy Fuels said.

White Mesa is the only licensed and operating conventional uranium mill in the USA. It is also licensed and equipped to process and recycle alternate feed materials - materials other than conventional ores that contain recoverable quantities of natural uranium, which often come from uranium conversion and other metals processing. The mill has a separate feed circuit for processing such materials, which may contain uranium at grades of up to 75% U3O8. It has recovered about 1.5 million pounds of U3O8 (577 tU) from alternate sources since 2005.

The additional quantities of alternate feed material are already covered by an existing amendment to the mill's operating licence and no further licensing actions will be necessary. The new business is expected to increase the company's 2017 uranium processing figures above previously announced guidance, although the uranium recovered "will be for the account of a third party", the company said. It had expected to produce about 450,000 lbs U3O8 at White Mesa in 2017, including 150,000 lbs from alternate feed materials and 300,000 lbs from pond returns - the recovery of dissolved uranium from its own tailings management system.

Energy Fuels president and CEO Stephen Antony said the ability to process alternate feed materials for the recovery of uranium at White Mesa was a "very important aspect" of the company's business and revenue stream. "The White Mesa Mill is an excellent option for entities that generate significant quantities of uranium-bearing materials, since we are able to return value to them in the form of marketable uranium. This new tranche of material was not previously in our business plan, so the expected cash-flows are timely for Energy Fuels during today’s low uranium prices," he said.

Energy Fuels continues to "aggressively pursue" additional alternate feed opportunities for White Mesa, Antony said.

No details have been given about the nature or source of the alternate feed material covered by the new contract.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News