LAKEWOOD, CO, April 23, 2020 /CNW/ - Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU; TSX: EFR) ("Energy Fuels"), the leading producer of uranium in the United States, applauds the Trump administration and the U.S. Nuclear Fuel Working Group ("NFWG") for developing the Strategy to Restore American Nuclear Energy Leadership. This comprehensive strategy seeks to revive and strengthen U.S. nuclear fuel capabilities, starting with uranium mining, with the goals of supporting U.S. energy and national security, preventing geopolitical adversaries (particularly those in Russia) from using their nuclear capabilities to influence the U.S. and the world, and promoting global non-proliferation objectives and nuclear safety. The report states that "the clear outcome of the Working Group's efforts is confirmation that it is in the nation's national security interests to preserve the assets and investments of the entire U.S. nuclear enterprise and to revitalize the sector to regain U.S. global nuclear leadership."
Mark S. Chalmers, president and CEO of Energy Fuels stated: "President Trump initiated the most comprehensive review in decades of our nation's nuclear fuel supply chain when he established the U.S. Nuclear Fuel Working Group. By appropriating and implementing the recommendations outlined in this strategy, our nation will take bold and much-needed steps toward reestablishing U.S. nuclear leadership, while protecting our national security. We are extremely pleased that the U.S. government has expressed such a strong commitment to supporting domestic uranium mining and nuclear fuel capabilities. It is our belief that this report is the first step toward reversing a multidecade trend, where the U.S. has ceded global nuclear leadership to Russia, China and other geopolitical challengers."Stating that "the U.S. Government will take bold action to revive and strengthen the uranium mining industry" and "de-risk the fuel cycle" to counter the deliberate actions of state-owned enterprises in Russia, China and elsewhere to degrade U.S. nuclear capabilities, the Strategy to Restore American Nuclear Energy Leadership recommends:
- making direct U.S. government purchases of 17 – 19 million pounds of uranium beginning in 2020 for a strategic uranium reserve (which has already been reflected in the President's fiscal 2021 budget, which contemplates expenditures of $150 million per year over a 10-year period, totaling $1.5 billion, to create this strategic uranium reserve);
- ending the Department of Energy uranium bartering program that has directly competed against domestic uranium miners in the past;
- supporting the Department of Commerce's efforts to extend the Russian Suspension Agreement ("RSA") to prevent dumping of Russian uranium in the U.S., and "the consideration of further lowering the cap on Russian imports under future RSA terms";
- enabling the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to deny imports of fabricated nuclear fuel from Russia; and
- streamlining regulatory reform and land access for uranium.
The NFWG report goes on to state that, in addition to the commitments above, "[s]ubsequent support will be considered as deemed necessary across a 10-year period …"
In July 2019, President Trump created the NFWG, which is comprised of several cabinet-level secretaries and other high-ranking government officials, to address the deterioration of the U.S. nuclear fuel industry. Today, U.S. uranium mining is at its lowest level since record keeping began in the 1940s. The only U.S. uranium conversion facility closed in 2017 and is at risk of closing permanently, and the U.S. has no domestically owned uranium enrichment capabilities. State-owned enterprises in Russia, China and their allies are filling the global vacuum left by the U.S., which has ceded leadership in nuclear energy over the past several decades.
The NFWG report represents the largest U.S. government commitment in decades to support U.S. uranium and nuclear fuel production, and recognizes "the importance of taking focused, deliberate action to prevent the near-term collapse of the domestic uranium mining, milling and conversion industries and the need to support U.S. strategic fuel cycle capabilities." The report recognizes that "the U.S. national security interest is truly integrated with the health of the entire front-end of the nuclear fuel cycle – the United States needs a strong civil nuclear industry to enable national defense." The report recommends taking "immediate actions" directed toward "assur[ing] defense needs," "removing strategic vulnerabilities across the nuclear fuel cycle," and "restoring a world-class workforce."
In recognizing the malign actions of geopolitical adversaries attempting to increase market share in the U.S. and globally, the report goes on to state that "American companies do not face competition from other international companies – they face competition from State actors." Therefore, the report recommends "leveling the playing field against state-owned enterprises" in the uranium and nuclear fuel sectors.
Energy Fuels Is the Largest Uranium Miner in the U.S.
Energy Fuels has been the largest U.S. uranium miner since 2017, and its assets have produced approximately 34% of all uranium produced in the U.S. since 2006. Energy Fuels also holds more uranium production capacity and more permitted uranium resources than any other U.S. company. Based in Lakewood, Colorado, with mines, plants and employees in Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico, the Company expects to be a beneficiary of U.S. government actions to support U.S. uranium miners.
Energy Fuels holds three (3) key U.S. uranium production facilities, including the Nichols Ranch Plant in Wyoming; the Alta Mesa Plant in Texas; and the White Mesa Mill in Utah, the only conventional uranium mill operating in the U.S. today. Energy Fuels was also the largest producer of vanadium in 2019 and is evaluating options to utilize the White Mesa Mill facility to produce rare earth elements. Uranium, vanadium and rare earth elements are identified by the U.S. government as minerals "vital to the Nation's security and economic vitality."
Chalmers continued: "Energy Fuels is ready to play a significant role in helping the U.S. restore nuclear leadership. We have proven, low-cost uranium mines and constructed production facilities in the western U.S. that can increase uranium production more quickly and on a greater scale than any other U.S. company, making us an obvious candidate to supply U.S. uranium requirements. In addition, Energy Fuels had over 515,000 pounds of finished uranium in inventory at the end of 2019, and we expect to produce another 125,000 to 175,000 pounds of uranium by the end of 2020. Therefore, we will have up to 690,000 pounds of uranum potentially available for sale into the U.S. uranium reserve this year. We believe our industry-leading production capabilities and inventories place Energy Fuels in an unmatched position among U.S. uranium producers. Finally, our record of safety and environmental responsibility is exceptional, and we look forward to putting Americans back to work in this critical clean energy industry."
Webcast & Conference Call Details
The webcast and conference call to discuss the NFWG recommendations, and how Energy Fuels expects to benefit, will occur on Friday, April 24 at 11:30 a.m. (ET).
To join the webcast, please dial 1-888-664-6392 (toll free in the U.S. and Canada) or 416-764-8659. The webcast slides can be accessed through the following link:
A link to a recorded version of the proceedings will be available on Energy Fuels' website (www.energyfuels.com) shortly after the webcast by calling 1-888-390-0541 (toll free in the U.S. and Canada) or 416-764-8677 and entering the code 391359#. This recording will be available until May 8, 2020.
About Energy Fuels: Energy Fuels is a leading US-based uranium mining company, supplying U3O8 to major nuclear utilities. The Company also produces vanadium from certain of its projects, as market conditions warrant. Its corporate offices are near Denver, Colorado, and all of its assets and employees are in the United States. Energy Fuels holds three of America's key uranium production centers, the White Mesa Mill in Utah, the Nichols Ranch in-situ recovery ("ISR") Project in Wyoming, and the Alta Mesa ISR Project in Texas. The White Mesa Mill is the only conventional uranium mill operating in the U.S. 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. The Nichols Ranch ISR Project is in operation and has a licensed capacity of 2 million pounds of U3O8 per year. The Alta Mesa ISR Project is currently on standby. In addition to the above production facilities, Energy Fuels also has one of the largest NI 43-101 compliant uranium resource portfolios in the U.S., and several uranium and uranium/vanadium mining projects on standby and in various stages of permitting and development. The primary trading market for Energy Fuels' common shares is the NYSE American under the trading symbol "UUUU", and the Company's common shares are also listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the trading symbol "EFR." Energy Fuels' website is www.energyfuels.com.
Cautionary Notes: This news release contains certain "Forward Looking Information" and "Forward Looking Statements" within the meaning of applicable United States and Canadian securities legislation, which may include, but is not limited to, statements with respect to: any expectation that the NFWG's recommendations will revive and expand the production of U.S. nuclear fuel, including uranium mining; any expectation that the Company will be a beneficiary of U.S. government actions to support U.S. uranium miners; any expectation as to how the President's fiscal 2021 budget will be implemented and the timing of implementation; any expectation with respect to the Company's plans to expand and/or resume production at its various projects; any expectation with respect to expected production, costs of production, timelines to production, inventory levels and the Company's ability to maintain its leading position as a producer; any expectation that Energy Fuels is well-positioned to provide a significant portion of the uranium needed for the reserve through our existing inventories and U.S. uranium production portfolio; any expectation that Congress will make the requested appropriations; and any expectation that the Company may be able to utilize the White Mesa Mill facility to produce rare earth elements. Generally, these forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "plans," "expects," "does not expect," "is expected," "is likely," "budgets," "scheduled," "estimates," "forecasts," "intends," "anticipates," "does not anticipate," or "believes," or variations of such words and phrases, or state that certain actions, events or results "may," "could," "would," "might" or "will be taken," "occur," "be achieved" or "have the potential to." All statements, other than statements of historical fact, herein are considered to be forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements express or implied by the forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements include risks associated with: any expectation that the NFWG's recommendations will revive and expand the production of U.S. nuclear fuel, including uranium mining; any expectation that the Company will be a beneficiary of U.S. government actions to support U.S. uranium miners; any expectation as to how the President's fiscal 2021 budget will be implemented and the timing of implementation; any expectation with respect to the Company's plans to expand and/or resume production at its various projects; any expectation with respect to expected production, costs of production, timelines to production, inventory levels and the Company's ability to maintain its leading position as a producer; any expectation that Energy Fuels is well-positioned to provide a significant portion of the uranium needed for the reserve through our existing inventories and U.S. uranium production portfolio; any expectation that Congress will make the requested appropriations; any expectation that the Company may be able to utilize the White Mesa Mill facility to produce rare earth elements; and the other factors described under the caption "Risk Factors" in the Company's most recently filed Annual Report on Form 10-K, which is available for review on EDGAR at www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml, on SEDAR at www.sedar.com, and on the Company's website at www.energyfuels.com. Forward-looking statements contained herein are made as of the date of this news release, and the Company disclaims, other than as required by law, any obligation to update any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, results, future events, circumstances, or if management's estimates or opinions should change, or otherwise. There can be no assurance that forward-looking statements will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, the reader is cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. The Company assumes no obligation to update the information in this communication, except as otherwise required by law.
It should further be noted that the proposed budgeted activities are subject to appropriation by the Congress of the United States, and there can be no certainty of the outcome of this budget or the NFWG's recommendations. Therefore, the outcome of this process remains uncertain.
SOURCE Energy Fuels Inc.