Energy Fuels (NYSE: UUUU; TSX: EFR) reported that the first shipments of natural monazite ore have arrived at the company’s White Mesa Mill in Blanding, Utah.
In the coming weeks, the company expects to gradually ramp-up production of an intermediate rare earth element (REE) product, called a “mixed REE carbonate.” This product will then advance to REE separation, which is the next stage in the REE value chain.
Energy Fuels also expects to recover the uranium in the ore, which will be used as fuel for the generation of clean, carbon-free nuclear energy.
The company expects to sell its mixed REE carbonate to Neo Performance Materials, which will process this material at its facility in Europe and manufacture separated rare earth products available to US and European markets.
“We believe Energy Fuels has done more to restore US rare earth production in one year than others have achieved in many years. Less than one year ago, Energy Fuels announced that we were entering the US rare earth space. Now, we are receiving shipments of rare earth bearing ore and are in the process of ramping up for commercial production of an intermediate rare earth product at a stage more advanced than any other US company,” Mark S. Chalmers, Energy Fuels CEO said in a media release.
China currently accounts for 70% of global production of rare earths, controlling 90% of the $4 billion global market.
“We intend to optimize our production of a mixed rare earth carbonate and then move on to developing our own ability to manufacture separated rare earth products at our plant in Utah,” he said.
Donald Trump last year signed an executive order aimed at expanding domestic output of rare earth minerals, a year after the Department of Defense was ordered to spur the production of magnets. The US also awarded Lynas, the biggest producer outside China, a contract to boost processing capabilities.
Monazite is one of the highest-value REE-bearing minerals in the world, containing between 50% and 60%+ REEs, along with significant quantities of recoverable natural uranium.
Monazite also contains 22% – 24% NdPr (%TREO Basis), which are two of the key REEs and which are needed for many permanent REE magnet technologies used in electric vehicles and other advanced technologies.