Production Begins At Three US Uranium Mines


Energy Fuels has started production at three of its permitted and developed uranium mines in Arizona and Utah in response to strong market conditions. The company also expects to begin production at two additional mines in Colorado and Wyoming within a year.

Production will be fully ramped up at the Pinyon Plain, La Sal and Pandora mines by mid- to late-2024, by which time Energy Fuels said it expects to be producing uranium at a run-rate of 1.1 to 1.4 million pounds per year, but will be stockpiled at the company’s White Mesa mill in Utah for processing in 2025 “subject to market conditions, contract requirements and/or Mill schedule”.

Energy Fuels’ December 2022 technical report for Pinyon Plain, in Arizona, estimates total proven and probable reserves of 1,567,800 pounds U3O8. Pandora and La Sal are both part of the La Sal Project complex of uranium/vanadium mines in eastern Utah, which has estimated uranium resources of 4.3 million pounds U3O8, all in the inferred category. Reserves have not been reported for La Sal (mineral reserves are the economically mineable part of mineral resource).

The company said it is also preparing the Whirlwind (Colorado) and Nichols Ranch (Utah) mines  to commence uranium production within one year, which it says would increase its uranium production to over 2 million pounds of U3O8 per year starting in 2025, “if strong market conditions continue as expected”. It also plans to advance permitting and development on the Roca Honda (New Mexico), Sheep Mountain (Wyoming) and Bullfrog (Utah) projects, which it says could expand the company’s uranium production to up to 5 million pounds U3O8 per year in the coming years. It also expects to produce 1-2 million pounds of vanadium per year.

In the meantime, it will continue to produce uranium from its alternate feed recycling programme – expected to total about 150,000 pounds U3O8 (57.7 tU) in 2024 – while it stockpiles ore from its conventional mines. It also said it expects to commence an ore buying programme from third-party miners in 2024.

The company said its decision to ramp up uranium production was driven by market and policy factors including strengthening spot and long-term uranium prices; increased buying interest from US nuclear utilities; US and global government policies supporting nuclear energy to address global climate change; and reducing US reliance on Russian and Russian-controlled uranium and nuclear fuel.

The company said it expects to sell 200,000 pounds U3O8 into its existing portfolio of long-term contracts during 2024 – this is expected to occur during the first quarter of the year. It also noted that a “utility customer” has the option to purchase an additional 100,000 pounds U3O8 from the company in 2024. Energy Fuels “holds uncommitted inventory and, with the benefit of future production, will continue to evaluate additional spot and/or long-term uranium sales opportunities during 2024 and beyond,” it said.

“Due to the substantial increase in uranium prices, US government support for nuclear energy and nuclear fuel, and a global focus on reducing carbon emissions, Energy Fuels is resuming large-scale uranium production,” CEO Mark Chalmers said, adding that current uranium spot prices of “near USD90 per pound” are at their highest since 2007. “Energy Fuels has made the required investments over the past several years to prepare for today’s uranium markets, and we are uniquely positioned to successfully resume US uranium production in 2024. This is evidenced by our production of roughly two-thirds of all uranium produced in the US over the past five years.”

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