Energy Fuels begins commercial production of separated rare earths at White Mesa

Energy Fuels’ White Mesa mill in Utah. Credit: Energy Fuels

Energy Fuels (NYSE: UUUU; TSX: EFR) announced on Monday that it has achieved commercial production of separated neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) at its White Mesa mill in Utah.

The rare earth elements (REE), used in the manufacture of magnets in clean applications like EVs as well as in military and defense technologies, will be produced at Energy Fuels’ new Phase 1 REE separation circuit, with a capacity of 850 to 1,000 metric tonnes of NdPr per year.

The company expects to have commercial quantities of separated NdPr available for shipment by the end of the month.

Energy Fuels is extracting, refining, and separating the NdPr from monazite produced at its heavy mineral sand operations in Florida and Georgia.

The company said this is the first time in several decades that a US company has produced on-spec separated REEs from monazite on a commercial scale.

Energy Fuels began piloting REE separations in 2021 and later performed partial REE separations in 2022 and 2023.

The company completed construction of its Phase 1 REE separation circuit in the first quarter of 2024 at a total cost of about $16 million, under the original budget of $25 million.

During the second quarter, the company expects to produce about 25 to 35 tonnes of on-spec, separated NdPr.

“The addition of REE separation processes has not hindered the ability or capacity of the company to produce uranium at the mill, and preparations are being made to commence a uranium ore and alternate feed uranium-bearing material processing campaign in Q3 2024,” Energy Fuels said in a statement.

“Following the completion of NdPr production at the mill in Q2 2024, the company expects to begin processing uranium ore and alternate feed materials from our current stockpiles, resulting in the expected production of 150,000 to 500,000 pounds of U3O8 during 2024, with production ramping up further in 2025.”

From the new circuit, Energy Fuels also expects to produce a samarium-plus (Sm+) concentrate, while also recovering the contained uranium from the monazite feed stocks.

The company expects to use this Sm+ concentrate to continue pilot-scale dysprosium (Dy) and terbium (Tb) separation and to design circuits at the mill capable of producing these rare earth products in separated individual forms.

Currently, there is no company in the Western Hemisphere capable of commercially producing separated, on-spec Dy, Tb, or other heavy REE products.

Shares of Energy Fuels rose 3.9% by 12:00 p.m. EDT. The company has a market capitalization of $1.01 billion.