Westwater Resources, Inc. (NYSE American: WWR), a battery grade, graphite development company (“Westwater” or “Company”), today provided a business update.
“Great work by the Westwater team has resulted in significant progress in the development of the Company and the Coosa Graphite Project (the “Project”),” said Chris Jones, President and CEO. “Our business plan is progressing on track in a market that enjoys terrific growth.”
In October 2021, Westwater completed the Definitive Feasibility Study (“DFS”) for its Coosa Graphite Production Facility (the “Facility”) to be located near Kellyton, Alabama. The DFS defined the key technological components for the Facility, assessed the processes, equipment and facilities required, and provided the design for the Facility. The DFS also affirmed management’s evaluation and assessment of the entire project and its associated financial investment. Phase I of the Facility is expected to produce 3,700 metric tonnes (mt) of Coated Spherical Purified Graphite (“CSPG”) product per year, and 3,800 mt of purified fines product per year for 35 years. Phase I production is anticipated to commence in 2023. Phase II of the Facility is expected to increase production to 15,800 mt of CSPG and 16,600 mt of purified fines per year. Phase II will be the subject of an updated DFS, planned for 2023/2024, with anticipated production beginning in 2025. The internal rate of return for the entire project is expected to be 20.5 percent and cash flows are expected to begin in 2023.
Westwater has contracted with several world-renowned engineering and technology organizations to engineer, procure and construct the Facility, notably:
- Samuel Engineering organized, coordinated and developed the overall DFS and is providing the plant engineering and design required for plant construction.
- Dorfner Anzaplan engineered and designed the purification process and designed and operated the pilot program.
In November 2021, Westwater established the construction management process and team. Key partners in the team were hired: Fite Construction as the construction manager; and Samuels Engineering for engineering and procurement. Construction activities began in December 2021. We are working to secure other contractors and have focused on ordering specialized equipment that have long lead times from manufacturers that were identified in, and were part of, the DFS.
On October 11, 2021, Westwater announced that its Board of Directors approved the purchase of two buildings adjacent to the plant. The two structures total 90,000 square feet of enclosed space, and will be used for administration, training, lab work and warehousing. The two structures saved Westwater a significant amount of money and construction time as compared to building them from the ground-up.
Governor Kay Ivey, her staff, and community leaders in Alabama were important partners in our evaluation of site locations and our ultimate decision to locate the site in Kellyton. As a result of their support, Westwater secured low-cost land and was provided with various tax incentives in exchange for Westwater’s commitment to hire and train over 100 full time permanent workers by the end of 2023. Westwater personnel have participated in a number of “town hall” meetings where they met with community leaders to answer their questions about the project. Westwater also created a public private partnership with Alexander City to upgrade their wastewater treatment system. In that partnership, Westwater agreed to contribute $400,000 for construction costs and prepayment of $100,000 in treatment fees. Finally, the Lake Martin Industrial Development Corporation provide Westwater a 10-year abatement of non-educational property tax and approximately 70 acres of land to build the Facility.
In a press release on March 1, 2021, Westwater announced that the U.S. Government has designated graphite as a strategic element. The designation has the effect of focusing the government’s attention on securing US domestic sources of graphite, which will include the Coosa Project. Our Coosa Graphite Project is expected to be the first U.S. battery graphite materials producer.
Westwater continued exploration activities through 2021 with a drilling program on the Coosa Graphite Deposit, which is also designed to evaluate the economic viability of vanadium. Core test samples were sent to independent laboratories for analysis, and the results from the drilling will be analyzed and evaluated for inclusion in our resource estimate in 2022.
Also, in 2021 Westwater completed the production of 13.2 mt of purified graphite from the pilot program for performance testing. Westwater sent samples to a number of potential customers, and those samples are under evaluation. The Westwater sales and marketing team engaged with a number of potential customers, and on November 17, 2021 Westwater announced a Letter of Intent to negotiate the terms for the potential sale of 125-150 mt of CSPG for lithium-ion batteries to a battery materials manufacturer, with delivery currently expected in 2023.
As a result of our work over the last two years, Westwater developed an innovative technology for graphite purification. A patent application was filed for this technology with the US Patent office.
In early 2021, Westwater transferred its listing to NYSE American, and in June the Company was included in the Russell Microcap Index. We also strengthened our management team with the addition of Chad Potter as Chief Operating Officer in August 2021 and Steven Cates as Chief Accounting Officer and Controller in May 2021.
Mr. Jones commented, “It was an exciting year with many accomplishments. We achieved many significant goals in a challenging global business environment.”
About Westwater Resources Inc.
Westwater Resources Inc. (NYSE American: WWR) is focused on developing battery-grade graphite. The Company’s primary project is the Coosa Graphite Project — the most advanced natural flake graphite project in the contiguous United States — and the associated Coosa Graphite Deposit located across 41,900 acres (~17,000 hectares) in east-central Alabama. For more information, visit www.westwaterresources.net.
Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and assumptions and are identified by words such as "expects," "estimates," "projects," "anticipates," "believes," "could," “scheduled,” and other similar words. Forward looking statements include, among other things, statements concerning the construction and operation of the Company’s Coosa Graphite Project production facility and the costs and schedules associated with them, potential purchasers of the Company’s Coosa Graphite Project output and plans for continued exploration. The Company cautions that there are certain factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information that has been provided. The reader is cautioned not to put undue reliance on this forward-looking information, which is not a guarantee of future performance and is subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside the control of the Company; accordingly, there can be no assurance that such suggested results will be realized. The following factors, in addition to those discussed in Westwater’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020, and subsequent securities filings, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information:
(a) the Company’s ability to successfully construct and operate a commercial-scale plant capable of producing battery grade materials in quantities and on schedules consistent with the Coosa Graphite Project business plan; (b) the Company’s ability to raise additional capital in the future including the ability to utilize existing financing facilities; (c) spot price and long-term contract price of graphite and vanadium; (d) risks associated with our operations, our ability to obtain permits, equipment deliver schedules, and the operations of our partners such as Dorfner Anzaplan and Samuel Engineering, including the impact of COVID-19 and its potential impacts to the capital markets; (e) government regulation of the graphite industry and the vanadium industry; (f) world-wide graphite and vanadium supply and demand, including the supply and demand for energy storage batteries; (g) unanticipated geological, processing, regulatory and legal or other problems the Company may encounter in the jurisdictions where the Company operates or intends to operate, including but not limited to Alabama and Colorado; (h) the ability of the Company to enter into and successfully close purchase contracts, acquisitions or other material transactions; (i) any graphite or vanadium discoveries not being in high-enough concentration to make it economic to extract the minerals; and (j) new litigation or arbitration. Except as required by law, the Company disclaims any obligation to update or publicly announce any revisions to any of the forward-looking statements contained in this news release.