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Energy Fuels resumes vanadium production at White Mesa, plans uranium investment


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Energy Fuels resumes vanadium production at White Mesa, plans uranium investment

Energy Fuels Inc. resumed vanadium production from tailings pond solutions at its wholly owned White Mesa uranium mill in Utah and produced the first batches of vanadium concentrate, also known as black flake.

The company said Jan. 7 that it expects to achieve monthly production rates of 200,000 to 225,000 pounds of vanadium pentoxide by the end of the first quarter and maintain this level of output during 2019 and through at least half of 2020.

Sales of the vanadium product are expected within one to three months of production. The company said it has no sales deals right now but expects to enter into agreements in the coming weeks.

The ramp-up campaign was delayed from the original start date of November 2018 to accommodate additional uranium production at the mill.

Uranium production in 2019 is expected at about 50,000 to 125,000 pounds, including about 50,000 to 75,000 pounds from the Nichols Ranch in situ recovery project in Wyoming and up to 50,000 pounds from pond solutions at the mill.

All uranium production in 2019 will be added to existing inventories as the company has not entered into any uranium sales commitments for the year, the company said.

Energy Fuels plans to invest US$4.2 million to increase uranium production to be able to respond to improved uranium market conditions, which may result from the ongoing Section 232 investigation into U.S. uranium imports, or improvements in the global market.

The company intends to start refurbishing and test mining a second uranium-vanadium mine at the La Sal complex in Utah, the fully permitted Pandora mine, and complete a surface and underground drilling program at La Sal in 2019 to expand the uranium-vanadium resources.

Meanwhile, at the Nichols Ranch project, the company is installing new ion-exchange capacity and upgrading other equipment to increase flow capacity through the plant, which will reduce operating costs per pound and increase the uranium production capacity.

Energy Fuels will also undertake a 200-hole surface drilling program at its Alta Mesa in situ recovery project in South Texas to update the uranium resource and extend the project's mine life.