Energy Fuels set to become rare earth producer in 2021

The White Mesa mill is the only fully licensed and operating conventional uranium mill in the United States. Credit: Energy Fuels.

Energy Fuels (TSX: EFR; NYSE: UUUU) has entered into a three-year supply agreement with The Chemours Company to acquire a minimum of 2,500 tonnes per year of natural monazite sands, one of the highest-grade rare earth element (REE) minerals in the world.

The company expects to process this monazite at its 100%-owned White Mesa mill starting in the first quarter of 2021, recover the contained uranium, and produce a marketable mixed REE carbonate.

Upon a successful ramp-up of the program, Energy Fuels will be the first company in the United States for several years to produce a marketable mixed REE concentrate ready for separation on a commercial scale.

“We estimate that the amount of REEs contained in the monazite sands to be supplied by Chemours will equal close to 10% of total current U.S. REE demand,” the company said in a press release.

REEs are the building blocks of a wide array of clean energy and advanced technologies, including wind turbines, electric vehicles, cell phones, computers, flat panel displays, advanced optics, catalysts, medicine, and national defense applications. Monazite also contains significant recoverable quantities of uranium, which fuels the production of carbon-free electricity using nuclear technology.

“With our announcement today, southeast Utah is fast becoming America’s clean energy and critical minerals hub,” Mark S. Chalmers, Energy Fuels’ president and CEO, said in the statement. 

“Currently, the U.S. imports nearly all of our rare earth, uranium and vanadium requirements, despite having ample supplies here in the U.S. Importantly, in the United States we are highly regulated and operate to the highest standards, which means we produce these minerals more responsibly than many of the countries from which we currently import.”

The monazite sands will be from Chemours’ Offerman mineral sand plant in Georgia.

The company is also in discussions with other entities to acquire additional supplies of monazite and is working with the U.S. Department of Energy to evaluate the potential to process other types of REE and uranium bearing ores at the White Mesa mill produced from coal-based resources.

The company has a goal to process more than 15,000 tonnes of monazite and other sources of ore per year for the recovery of REEs and uranium.

Energy Fuels expects to sell some or all of its mixed REE carbonate to buyers in Europe and/or Asia until a REE separation facility is established in the U.S.

This article first appeared in MINING.com, part of Glacier Resource Innovation Group.

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