Set to be the next vanadium producer in 2019
Uranium demand is forecast to increase strongly in future years assuming nuclear power plants continue to be built. At the current low uranium spot prices uranium miners are not profitable, which is leading to a rapid fall in uranium supply and stockpiles. We are starting to see now the next stage in the cycle – Higher uranium prices to encourage new supply as deficits widen.
Vanadium is primary used in the steel industry as a steel hardener. Added to this is new demand from Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFBs) for industrial scale energy storage industry which is now rapidly growing, most notably in China. This should help ensure a strong demand picture ahead for vanadium.
Western Uranium & Vanadium Corp. (CSE: WUC | OTCQX: WSTRF) is a near-term producer that acquired uranium and vanadium mineral assets in western Colorado and eastern Utah, USA from Energy Fuels Inc. The Company’s near-term production strategy is to focus on previously producing mines with low CapEx, existing infrastructure, and permitting.
The Sunday Mine Complex
The Sunday Mine Complex is a complex of 5 interconnected underground mining claims totaling about 3,748 acres (most recently mined in 2009) covering both uranium and vanadium mines with historic production. The Company has reported strong grades present at the Sunday Mine Complex including V2O5 ~1.49% to 2.16% and U3O8 ~0.25% to 0.36%, with a large surface stockpile of 100,000 tons. The total vanadium historic resource is ~35,000,000 lbs and the total uranium historic resource ~70,000,000 lbs.
The Sunday mine is fully permitted and due to re-open in early 2019. It will be ready for vanadium production in H2 2019 in the form of Direct Shipping Ore, direct to a third party processing plant. A couple of years later the Company plans to build their own processing plant. Given the mine is a re-start, the existing infrastructure is excellent.
President, CEO and Director of Western Uranium & Vanadium Corp. George Glasier stated in December 2018: “The Sunday Mine Complex is one of the best, if not the best mine in North America for vanadium. It is a series of 5 mines with very, very high-grade vanadium……Early next year we will open the Sunday Mine, which was operated in 2009. The mine is ready to go. We will open it in early 2019, get it ready for production in the second half of 2019. The mine is virtually ready. We are going to go in and assess the high-grade vanadium that we know is in there and then layout the mining plan to start mining in the second half.”
CEO George Glasier also stated that radiation levels from the uranium are very low and therefore not a concern, and similar levels of radiation is commonly seen in US exported coal.
The Sunday Mine Complex in Colorado, USA
The Company also controls a new technology called Ablation Technology which some people are comparing to fracking. It has been developed to reduce the cost of recovering uranium from the mine. This also gives the Company further opportunities for the technology to be used as a cleanup technology on other legacy uranium mining sites.
VRFB’s have huge potential
The latest, greatest utility-scale battery storage technology to emerge on the commercial market is the vanadium redox battery, also known as the vanadium flow battery, they can be fully containerized, non flammable, compact, reusable over semi-infinite cycles, discharge 100% of the stored energy and do not degrade for more than 20 years. Ideally suited to the mass energy storage industry these redox battery will come into their own as the world heads away from fossil fuel for mass energy use.
In 2018 in response to higher vanadium prices (and low uranium prices) Western Uranium & Vanadium shifted their focus at the Sunday Mine Complex to vanadium. It certainly seems good timing as higher vanadium prices and greater demand from China from new steel rebar laws and increased demand for VRFBs in the energy storage industry means Western Uranium and Vanadium Corp. may well be the next vanadium producer.
Matthew Bohlsen is a Senior Editor for InvestorIntel.com. With a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment, and a Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning. He ... <Read more about Matthew Bohlsen>