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Uranium production resumes at Texas project

14 June 2024

The start-up of production at Alta Mesa – a joint venture of enCore Energy and Boss Energy – sees enCore become the only US uranium producer with multiple production facilities currently in operation and is the second start-up in eight weeks for Boss Energy. The first shipment of yellowcake is expected in 60-90 days’ time.

(Image: enCore Energy)

The previously producing in-situ leach project comprises the fully licensed and constructed Alta Mesa Uranium Central Processing Plant (CPP) and wellfield, and was acquired by enCore from Energy Fuels Inc in February 2023 for USD120 million. In December, the company entered into an agreement with Australia’s Boss Energy which saw Boss acquiring a 30% stake. It is operated by enCore.

EnCore CEO Paul Goranson said the company has advanced the project from acquisition to the completion of upgrades, wellfield installation and production within fifteen months. Alta Mesa is the company’s second producing asset to come online: the Rosita CPP, also in South Texas, resumed production in late 2023 after being offline since 2008, and shipped its first uranium in March.

“Our strategy at Alta Mesa is to initiate phased ramp-up from the wellfield located in Production Authorisation Area 7 (PAA-7), increasing production progressively and consistently as additional injection and recovery wells are systematically tied into the production lines,” Goranson said. “As we continue to increase production from PAA-7, work has commenced on the second new wellfield at Production Authorisation Area 8 with a goal of achieving full operational capacity by 2026. We are very pleased with our initial early production providing enCore with a second revenue source as we continue to build out the Alta Mesa Project.”

The Alta Mesa CPP has a total processing capacity of 1.5 million pounds U3O8 (577 tU) per year with additional drying capacity of  0.5 million pounds. It produced nearly 5 million pounds U3O8 between 2005 and 2013, when production was curtailed due to low uranium prices.

Currently, oxygenated water – used to extract uranium from the orebody – is being circulated in the wellfield through injection or extraction wells plumbed directly into the primary pipelines feeding the CPP. Expansion of the wellfield will continue with production to steadily increase from the wellfield as expansion continues through 2024 and beyond, enCore said.

In April, Boss Energy’s Honeymoon project in South Australia produced its first drum of uranium in more than a decade, and Managing Director Duncan Craib said the start of production at the Alta Mesa Project is another key milestone in the company’s strategy to be a global uranium supplier with a diversified production base in tier-one locations.

“With operations now ramping up at both Honeymoon and Alta Mesa, we are on track to hit our combined nameplate production target of 3 million pounds of uranium per annum,” he said. “Our timing could hardly be better given the increasingly tight supply and demand fundamentals in the uranium market.”

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