The company has released initial results from a test-mining program targeting the metal at its La Sal Complex in Utah.
Uranium producer Energy Fuels (TSX:EFR,NYSEAMERICAN:UUUU) announced plans to restart vanadium production in early August, and has now released initial results from a test-mining program targeting the metal at its La Sal Complex in Utah.
The purpose of the test-mining program is to evaluate different approaches to identify and extract high-grade vanadium zones, enhancing productivity and decreasing recovery and associated costs.
Vanadium production has become especially attractive in recent months as the metal has experienced a significant price bump due to increased demand for both V2O5 flake and ferrovanadium, which are essential in high-strength magnet and steel alloy manufacturing, respectively.
The price of vanadium has steadily climbed for most of 2018, from approximately US$12 per pound in January to US$32.50 today (October 25).
Despite being known for uranium, Energy Fuels previously produced vanadium until 2013, when prices dipped to roughly US$5, making mining for the industrial metal economically unviable.
Now that the price has skyrocketed by 170 percent it makes sense for the energy producer to restart the production process. The La Sal site is a top priority because it has the potential produce 2 to 3 million pounds of V2O5 per year.
“We believe La Sal is the best vanadium mine in the US due to its costs, resource size, permitting status and technical feasibility. This is proven by the fact that it has produced far more V2O5 than any other mine in the US over the past 10 years,” said Curtis Moore, VP marketing and corporate development.
“It is also one of the highest-grade vanadium mines in the world. So we’re very excited about the future of the La Sal Complex,” he added.
Whether it’s La Sal or one of the other vanadium projects Energy Fuels owns, the company believes it is well positioned to become the only North American vanadium producer, an ideal spot to be in as the price continues to climb.
“Energy Fuels is pleased to be the only company in the US that can provide shareholders with near-term exposure to both vanadium and uranium production, as market conditions warrant,” CEO Mark Chalmers said in a Thursday (October 25) announcement.
“The company’s White Mesa Mill is the only mill in the United States capable of recovering vanadium from conventionally mined ores, and Energy Fuels-owned or controlled mines are the only vanadium mines that currently have access to the White Mesa Mill.”
In the coming weeks, Energy Fuels will resume vanadium production at its White Mesa ponds at an estimated rate of 200,000 to 225,000 pounds of V2O5 per month, using a new technique.
“This source of production is also extremely flexible in that we will be able to turn production on and off very quickly, and at little cost, in response to evolving market conditions,” added Moore.
“We caution that we have never produced vanadium in this specific manner before. But all of our testing and analysis gives us a high degree of confidence that this project is likely to be successful and result in significant cashflow generation for Energy Fuels.”
Company shares remained flat on Thursday, trading at C$3.79.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Georgia Williams, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: Energy Fuels is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.