EnCore Energy (TSXV: EU) says it is buying the past-producing Alta Mesa uranium project in Texas from Energy Fuels (TSX: EFR) for $120 million in a deal boosting its capacity by more than 70%.
The Alta Mesa in-situ recovery (ISR) plant, fully licenced and constructed, adds capacity of 1.5 million lb. of uranium a year to enCore, the company said in a news release on Monday.
The deal lifts enCore’s total production capacity including the Rosita and Kingsville Dome plants in Texas to 3.6 million lb. a year with the goal of starting production at Rosita next year, it said.
The acquisition is being funded through a bought deal with Canaccord Genuity as lead underwriter for 20 million shares at $3 each for $60 million, enCore said. The remaining $60 million is a secured vendor take-back convertible promissory note allowing Energy Fuels two years to acquire shares and warrants of enCore at a 20% premium.
Shares in EnCore Energy fell more than 10% in Monday morning trading in Toronto to C$2.91 each, its lowest price since Feb. 2021, valuing the company at C$315.3 million. The stock has traded as high as C$6.15 in the last 12 months.
Energy Fuels fell 2.6% to C$9.95, valuing the company at C$1.57 billion. It has traded in the range of C$6.14 to C$13.95 over the past 52 weeks.
EnCore chief executive officer Paul Goranson is a former vice president of Mesteña Uranium, which owned and operated Alta Mesa when it was in production. The plant produced 4.6 million lb. of uranium between October 2005 and November 2013, including a two-year period when it produced 1 million lb. per year.
“We generated substantial cash flow during the last cycle of elevated uranium prices and established the project as a leading United States ISR uranium producer,” Goranson said.
EnCore intends to ride the wave of resurging interest in nuclear energy as nations target net-zero carbon emissions to fight climate change. The global transition to clean energy in vehicles and power plants is expected to cost trillions of dollars in the coming decades. The US has the most nuclear reactors with 92, while the most new constructions are underway in China with 15, according to Statista research.
Alta Mesa can resume production with “limited required capital” within 10 months of a production decision, the company said. EnCore said its mid- and long-term production potential is further fueled by a pipeline of projects, including Dewey-Burdock in South Dakota, Gas Hills in Wyoming and projects in New Mexico.
Alta Mesa has measured and indicated resources of 3.41 million lb. uranium oxide, including 1.57 million tonnes at an average grade of 0.109% uranium oxide, plus inferred resources of 16.79 million lb. uranium oxide, including 7 million tonnes at an average grade of 0.120% uranium oxide, the company said.
The deal gives enCore three of only 11 licenced production facilities in the United States. Alta Mesa’s 790-sqkm property has 18.5 sqkm under lease and mining permit and the rest under a lease-option and exploration/testing permit, the company said.
“This transaction exceeds enCore’s long stated requirement for any major acquisition to be accretive to shareholders in not only production capacity but also cost and timelines to production,” enCore executive chairman William Sheriff said in the release.
Earlier this month, the company sold its uranium properties of Moonshine Springs in Arizona, and Kaycee and Bootheel in Wyoming to Nuclear Fuels of British Columbia for about 20% of the shares in its potential initial public offering, several net smelter return royalties, and buy-back-in.