US Energy Fuels Set to Enter Rare Earth Business in Q1-2021
- Category: tungsten’s News
- Published on Sunday, 27 December 2020 00:03
US company Energy Fuels Inc, a uranium and vanadium processor based in Utah, will become a commercial rare earth supplier in the first quarter of 2021, having entered into a three-year supply agreement to acquire a minimum of 2500 tons per year of natural monazite sands from which it will also recover uranium at its White Mesa mill in Utah.
The company said it had been attracted to its newly announced acquisition of the Laguna Salada uranium project in Argentina by the by-product vanadium. It will process monazite at the White Mesa Smelter, recover the uranium contained, and produce saleable mixed rare earth carbonates. This marks an important step in the reconstruction of the US supply chain. At present, the United States' demand for rare earth, uranium and vanadium is almost entirely dependent on imports.
"The agreement we signed with Chemours may be a truly successful start, not only for uranium and vanadium mining companies, but also for local communities, American residents, environmental organizations, Utah, and the entire United States," President and Chief Executive Officer Executive Mark ChaLMErs commented in a statement.
The company estimates that the rare earth content in monazite ore to be obtained under this agreement will be close to 10% of the current total demand in the United States.
Energy Fuels is also negotiating with other entities to obtain more monazite raw materials, and cooperate with the US Department of Energy to evaluate processing and extracting other types of rare earths and uranium from coal resources at the White Mesa plant.
The company's goal is to process 15,000 tons of monazite and other resources annually to recover rare earth and uranium ore. The average processing capacity of ore permitted by the White Mesa plant is designed to be 2,000 tons per day, or 720,000 tons of ore per year. Therefore, 2,500 tons/year of monazite placer means less than 0.4% of the annual production capacity of the processing plant, and 15,000 tons/year only represents about 2% of the annual production capacity.
Energy Fuels stated that the mixed rare-earth carbonate produced by the ore supply of 15,000 tons/year will meet 50% of the demand in the United States.
Monazite ore will come from the Chemours Company's Offerman plant in Georgia, and shipments of monazite ore from Georgia to the White Mesa Smelter will begin in the first quarter of 2021.
The US Energy Fuels said that by then, the project may become one of the lowest-cost rare earth production projects in the Western world. Using existing facilities can save the time and cost of applying for permits and building new facilities. In addition, since the monazite placer is currently being separated from other ore sands in Georgia and elsewhere, the company only has to bear the cost of acquiring the monazite, thereby avoiding mining costs and related risks.
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