LAKEWOOD, CO, July 31, 2020 /PRNewswire/ - Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) ("Energy Fuels" or the "Company") today reported its financial results for the quarter ended June 30, 2020. The Company's quarterly report on Form 10-Q has been filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") and may be viewed on the Electronic Document Gathering and Retrieval System ("EDGAR") at www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml, on the System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval ("SEDAR") at www.sedar.com, and on the Company's website at www.energyfuels.com. Unless noted otherwise, all dollar amounts are in U.S. dollars.
Mark S. Chalmers, Energy Fuels' President and CEO, stated:
"Energy Fuels continued to consolidate our position as the clear leader in U.S. uranium production in Q2-2020, and we made significant progress in diversifying into rare earth element production.
"On the uranium front, we resumed limited uranium production at our White Mesa Mill in Blanding, Utah from alternate feed materials and pond returns, and we expect to produce between 125,000 and 175,000 pounds of uranium companywide in 2020. Assuming current production and sales guidance, we expect to continue to build and hold between 640,000 and 690,000 pounds of uncommitted uranium in inventory at the end of 2020. Uranium spot prices are up 30% so far this year, as COVID-related production suspensions at major global uranium mines have created a widening gap between supply and demand and a strong potential for higher prices in the future. This means a higher realizable value for our uranium inventory. There is also good progress being made on uranium in the U.S. government. Our allies in Congress and the Trump Administration are pushing hard to fund $150 million per year to create the U.S. uranium reserve. While progress with the U.S. government can be slow and uneven at times, there is bipartisan support for the creation of the uranium reserve, and we are optimistic this program will be funded and implemented. In addition, the U.S. government and Russia are negotiating an extension of the Russian Suspension Agreement, which is expected to lower imports of Russian uranium into the U.S. over the long-term. Energy Fuels is heavily engaged in this process, and we are encouraged that the U.S. Department of Commerce appears committed to negotiating an agreement that will provide concrete benefits to the U.S. uranium mining sector. Adding to our leverage to increasing uranium prices, Energy Fuels also now owns the PFN borehole logging technology that most U.S. ISR uranium producers will need to use in order to resume and expand production. Not only will we be able to utilize this technology to ramp up production from our own ISR facilities, we have also secured the ability to monetize this technology with other U.S. ISR producers.
"Energy Fuels has also made significant strides in entering the rare earth market. There is a lot of interest in rare earths at the current time, and we believe Energy Fuels is more advanced than other companies in the U.S. with respect to producing a salable rare earth concentrate. We are currently performing test work, which we believe will be highly scalable and will allow us to produce a rare earth concentrate sooner, and at a significantly lower cost, than other U.S. initiatives garnering considerable attention right now. We have also engaged several rare earth industry experts to assist us in these endeavors, and we have entered into a non-exclusive Letter of Intent with Neo Performance Materials under which Neo will provide technical and commercial assistance to the Company, and both companies will work together toward potentially creating a longer term mutually beneficial relationship. We are moving very quickly on our rare earth initiative with an eye toward generating cash flow within the next 12 months.
"Finally, Energy Fuels is focused on managing our balance sheet. As discussed above, we have significant product inventories providing immediate leverage to rising commodity prices. And we are proud to have the ability to address our existing debt on our own terms, and that we expect to be debt free by the end of 2020. Debt can be difficult for mid-sized and junior uranium miners to service, and extremely burdensome for developers and explorers. Debt can devastate shareholder value if projects or markets do not perform as expected. In contrast to many other uranium companies which are currently incurring substantial long-term debt, Energy Fuels shareholders will not be exposed to that risk."
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Operations and Sales Outlook Overview
In response to the Congressional appropriations for the creation of a U.S. uranium reserve, the potential extension of the Russian Suspension Agreement, and/or implementation of policy recommendations contained in the Working Group's report, the Company is evaluating activities aimed towards increasing uranium production at all or some of its production facilities, including the currently operating White Mesa Mill, the recently operating Nichols Ranch ISR Facility, and the Alta Mesa ISR Facility, La Sal Complex and Canyon Mine, which are all currently on standby, as market conditions may warrant.
Subject to any actions the Company may take in response to U.S. government actions or market conditions, the Company plans to extract and/or recover limited amounts of uranium from its Nichols Ranch Project in 2020, which was placed on standby in the first quarter of 2020 due to the depletion of its existing wellfields. In addition, during 2020 the Company expects to recover uranium at the White Mesa Mill from in-circuit uranium inventories extracted from the recent vanadium Pond Return campaign, from Alternate Feed Materials and from other Pond Return activities. The vanadium Pond Return campaign conducted in 2019 was brought to a close in early 2020.
Subject to any actions the Company may take in response to U.S. government actions, both ISR and conventional uranium recovery is expected to be maintained at reduced levels, as a result of current uranium market conditions, until such time when market conditions improve sufficiently.
The Company is also seeking new sources of revenue, including new sources of Alternate Feed Materials and new fee processing opportunities at the White Mesa Mill that can be processed under existing market conditions (i.e., without reliance on current uranium sales prices), and is evaluating opportunities to potentially recover REEs at the White Mesa Mill. The Company will also continue its support of U.S. governmental activities to support the U.S. uranium mining industry and will evaluate additional acquisition and disposition opportunities that may arise.
Extraction and Recovery Activities Overview
During the six months ended June 30, 2020, the Company recovered approximately 83,000 pounds of U3O8, all of which were for the account of the Company. In the year ending December 31, 2020, the Company expects to recover a quantity of uranium within its previously published guidance of 125,000 to 175,000 pounds of U3O8. The Company also recovered approximately 67,000 pounds of high-purity vanadium pentoxide ("V2O5" or "black flake") during the six months ended June 30, 2020 from its vanadium Pond Return campaign, which was suspended during the first quarter of 2020.
The Company has strategically opted not to enter into any uranium sales commitments for 2020. Therefore, subject to any actions the Company may take in response to U.S. government actions and general market conditions, all 2020 uranium production is expected to be added to existing inventories. All V2O5 production is expected to be sold on the spot market if prices rise significantly above current levels, but otherwise maintained in inventory.
During the six months ended June 30, 2020, the Company extracted and recovered approximately 6,000 pounds of U3O8 from its Nichols Ranch Project, which was placed on standby during the first quarter of 2020, due to the depletion of its existing wellfields. This amount of uranium production falls within the Company's published guidance of approximately 6,000 pounds of U3O8 from Nichols Ranch during the year ended December 31, 2020.
As of June 30, 2020, the Nichols Ranch wellfields had nine header houses that previously extracted uranium, which are now depleted. The Company currently holds 34 fully-permitted, undeveloped wellfields at Nichols Ranch, including four additional wellfields at the Nichols Ranch wellfield, 22 wellfields at the adjacent Jane Dough wellfield, and eight wellfields at the Hank Project, which is fully permitted to be constructed as a satellite facility to the Nichols Ranch Plant.
Subject to any actions the Company may take in response to U.S. government actions, the Company expects to continue to keep the Alta Mesa Project on standby until such time as improvements in uranium market conditions are observed or suitable sales contracts can be procured.
Conventional Extraction and Recovery Activities
During the six months ended June 30, 2020, the Company produced 67,000 pounds of high-purity V2O5 from its Mill Pond Return program and 77,000 pounds of uranium from Alternate Feed Materials. During 2020, the Company expects to recover approximately 120,000 to 170,000 pounds of U3O8 at the White Mesa Mill from in-circuit uranium inventories extracted from the recent vanadium Pond Return campaign, from Alternate Feed Materials and from other Pond Return activities. In addition, there remains an estimated 1.5 to 3 million pounds of solubilized recoverable V2O5 inventory remaining in the tailings management facility awaiting future recovery from Pond Return as market conditions may warrant, placing the company in a unique position to restart vanadium production quickly.
The White Mesa Mill has historically operated on a campaign basis whereby uranium and/or vanadium recovery is scheduled as mill feed, cash needs, contract requirements, and/or market conditions may warrant. The Company currently expects that planned uranium production from Alternate Feed Materials, Pond Return, and the receipt of uranium-bearing materials from mine cleanup activities will keep the Mill in operation through all or most of 2020. The Company is also actively pursuing opportunities to process new and additional Alternate Feed Material sources and new and additional low-grade ore from third parties in connection with various uranium clean-up requirements. Successful results from these activities would allow the Mill to extend the current campaign through 2020 and beyond. In addition, if improvements in uranium market conditions are observed, or conventional mines are ramped up in response to U.S. government actions to support domestic uranium mining and/or recommendations of the Working Group, the Company would expect to be able to keep the Mill operating over a considerably longer period of time.
Conventional Standby, Permitting and Evaluation Activities
During the six months ended June 30, 2020, standby and environmental compliance activities occurred at the Canyon Project. Subject to any actions the Company may take in response to U.S. government actions and general market conditions, during 2020, the Company plans to continue carrying out engineering, metallurgical testing, procurement and construction management activities at its low cost Canyon Project.
The Company is selectively advancing certain permits at its other major conventional uranium projects, such as the Roca Honda Project, a large, high-grade conventional project in New Mexico. The Company will also maintain required permits at the Company's conventional projects, including the Sheep Mountain Project, La Sal Complex, and Tony M, Whirlwind and Daneros mines. In addition, the Company will continue to evaluate the Bullfrog Property at its Henry Mountains Project. Expenditures for certain of these projects have been adjusted to coincide with expected dates of price recoveries based on the Company's forecasts. All of these projects serve as important pipeline assets for the Company's future conventional production capabilities, as market conditions warrant.
During the six months ended June 30, 2020, the Company completed no uranium sales. The Company currently has no remaining contracts, and therefore all existing uranium inventory and future production is fully unhedged to future uranium price increases.
During the six months ended June 30, 2020, the Company did not complete the sale of any vanadium. The Company expects to continue to sell finished vanadium product, when justified, into the metallurgical industry, as well as other markets that demand a higher purity product, including the aerospace, chemical, and potentially the vanadium battery industries. The Company may also retain vanadium product in inventory for future sale, depending on vanadium spot prices and general market conditions.
The Company also continues to pursue new sources of revenue, including additional Alternate Feed Materials and other sources of feed for the White Mesa Mill, in addition to evaluating the potential to recover REEs at the Mill.
The Company's Plans in Response to U.S. Government Actions
As stated above, in response to U.S. government actions to support domestic uranium mining, the Company is evaluating activities aimed towards increasing uranium production at all or some of its facilities, subject to general market conditions. No decisions on any project-specific actions have been made at this time.
Continued Efforts to Minimize Costs
The Company will continue to seek ways to minimize the costs of maintaining its critical properties in a state of readiness for potential improvements in market conditions, and is evaluating whether additional cost-cutting measures may be warranted at this time as a result of general market conditions.
About Energy Fuels: Energy Fuels is a leading U.S.-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 in Lakewood, Colorado near Denver, 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 on standby and has a licensed capacity of 2 million pounds of U3O8 per year. The Alta Mesa ISR Project is also on standby and has a licensed capacity of 1.5 million pounds of U3O8 per year. 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 are not limited to, statements with respect to: production and sales forecasts; costs of production; scalability, and the Company's ability and readiness to re-start or expand any of its existing projects to respond to any improvements in uranium market conditions or in response to any government actions to support U.S. uranium mining; any expectations regarding vanadium opportunities, the Company's program for the recovery of vanadium from pond solutions, remaining dissolved vanadium in tailings facility solutions, future production opportunities, or the Company's ability to sell any of its vanadium product at a premium to spot prices or otherwise; the ability of the Company to secure any new sources of alternate feed materials or other processing opportunities at the White Mesa Mill; expected timelines for the permitting and development of projects; the Company's expectations as to longer term fundamentals in the market and price projections; expectations to become or maintain its position as a leading uranium company in the United States; any expectation as to how the NFWG's recommendations may be implemented and the timing of implementation; any expectation with respect to timelines to production; any expectation that the Company may be able to sell its uranium and vanadium inventories at potentially higher prices in the future; any expectation that Congress will make the requested appropriations; any expectations as to the Company's ability to implement any additional cost-cutting measures; any expectation that the Company may have the opportunity to process uranium-bearing ores for the recovery of REEs, at all or on commercial terms; any expectation that the Company will be able to recover REEs and/or uranium from such ores on a commercial basis; and any expectation that the Company and Neo may create a longer term mutually beneficial relationship. 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: production and sales forecasts; costs of production; scalability, and the Company's ability and readiness to re-start or expand any of its existing projects to respond to any improvements in uranium market conditions or in response to any government actions to support U.S. uranium mining; any expectations regarding vanadium opportunities, the Company's program for the recovery of vanadium from pond solutions, remaining dissolved vanadium in tailings facility solutions, future production opportunities, or the Company's ability to sell any of its vanadium product at a premium to spot prices or otherwise; the ability of the Company to secure any new sources of alternate feed materials or other processing opportunities at the White Mesa Mill; expected timelines for the permitting and development of projects; the Company's expectations as to longer term fundamentals in the market and price projections; expectations to become or maintain its position as a leading uranium company in the United States; any expectation as to how the NFWG's recommendations may be implemented and the timing of implementation; any expectation with respect to timelines to production; any expectation that the Company may be able to sell its uranium and vanadium inventories at potentially higher prices in the future; any expectation that Congress will make the requested appropriations; any expectations as to the Company's ability to implement any additional cost-cutting measures; any expectation that the Company may have the opportunity to process uranium-bearing ores for the recovery of REEs, at all or on commercial terms; any expectation that the Company will be able to recover REEs and/or uranium from such ores on a commercial basis; any expectation that the Company and Neo may create a longer term mutually beneficial relationship; 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 NFWG's recommendations for direct government purchases of uranium are subject to appropriation by the Congress of the United States, and there can be no certainty of the outcome of the NFWG's recommendations. Therefore, the outcome of this process remains uncertain.
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