Energy Fuels, headquartered in the United States, will become a rare earth producer in the first quarter of 2021. The company announced on December 14 that it had reached a supply agreement to process monazite at its White Mesa Mill in Utah.The company signed a 3-year supply agreement with Chemours Company to obtain 2,500 tons/year of natural monazite placer; this is one of the highest grade rare earth minerals in the world.Uranium and Vanadium Mining Company will process monazite at the White Mesa Smelter, recover the uranium contained, and produce marketable mixed rare earth carbonates. This marks an important step in the reconstruction of the U.S. rare earth supply chain. At present, the United States' demand for rare earths, 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 Officer 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 rare earth demand in the United States.Uranium and vanadium mining companies are 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 potential of the ore.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/day, or 720,000 tons of ore/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.
Uranium and Vanadium Mining Company stated that the mixed rare earth carbonate produced by the ore supply of 15,000 tons/year will meet 50% of the rare earth demand in the United States.Monazite ore will come from the Chemours Company’s Offerman plant in Georgia, and shipment of monazite ore from Georgia to the White Mesa Smelter will begin in the first quarter of 2021.Uranium and Vanadium Mining Company stated 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.
Historically, the monazite placer supplied to the White Mesa processing plant comes from the southeastern United States and contains an average of 55% rare earth oxides (TREO) and 0.20% uranium, which is the typical grade of uranium ore at present. Among 55% of rare earth oxides, neodymium and praseodymium oxide (NdPrO) account for 22% of rare earth oxides. Neodymium and praseodymium are the most valuable rare earth elements and are key additives for the manufacture of high-performance permanent magnets. The permanent magnet can reduce the weight of the engine and enhance the performance, which is essential for the manufacture of permanent magnet wind turbines for electric vehicles and renewable energy power generation, as well as a series of modern technologies such as mobile equipment and defense applications.Rare earth can be described as the cornerstone of various clean energy and advanced technologies.