Energy Fuels Corp announces a merger with Denison Mines Corp: Will they build the proposed Piñon Ridge Mill now?

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From The Durango Herald (Joe Hanel):

The merger with Denison Mines Corp. also gives Energy Fuels an operating uranium mill in Utah and raises the prospect that it might not build the Montrose County mill. Denver-based Energy Fuels wants to build the Piñon Ridge uranium mill in the Paradox Valley, outside the town of Naturita. It would be the first new uranium mill in the United States in 30 years.

Colorado’s health department approved Energy Fuels’ permit to build the Piñon Ridge mill, but opponents have sued to stop it. The company has spent $11 million on getting the mill permitted and is committed to securing approval to build it, Energy Fuels CEO Steve Antony said on a Tuesday conference call. But whether Piñon Ridge actually gets built is another question altogether. “We intend to complete the defense of the license, and at that time, depending on market conditions, any kind of decisions to go forward with actual construction will most likely be market-driven and based on market opportunity,” Antony said…

Denison runs the country’s only operating uranium mill, the White Mesa mill near Blanding, Utah. The merger gives Energy Fuels access to a mill right away, instead of waiting for the regulatory and legal process to be settled with Piñon Ridge, Moore said. Denison milled only ore from its own mines at the White Mesa mill, so Energy Fuels did not have a place to process uranium from the mines it owns before the merger…

Energy Fuels plans to acquire Denison in a stock deal worth about $107 million based on Monday’s share price. The deal is set to close June 30, Moore said. Denison shareholders, led by Korea Electric Power Corp., will own about two-thirds of Energy Fuels stock once the deal is completed. Denison lost $71 million last year as the uranium market plunged after the power plant meltdown in Fukushima, Japan…

Earlier this month, Energy Fuels completed its merger with Titan Uranium, which nearly tripled the Denver company’s uranium reserves. The purchase of Titan gave Energy Fuels the “critical mass” it needed to acquire Denison, Moore said.

More coverage from Katie Klingsporn writing for The Telluride Daily Planet. From the article:

The merger would mean that Energy Fuels would acquire the White Mesa Mill in Blanding, Utah — the only conventional uranium mill currently operating in the U.S. — as well as four working uranium mines in the area. The working mines include the Beaver Shaft and Pandora mines near La Sal, Utah, as well as the Daneros Mill west of Blanding and a mill in northern Arizona. Denison’s assets also include 11 mines in the Colorado Plateau region that are not currently producing uranium, according to Energy Fuels. Denison Mines Corp. is a uranium and vanadium producer with projects in the U.S., Mongolia, Canada and Zambia…

“This transaction is transformational for Energy Fuels and reshapes the landscape of the uranium sector within the U.S.,” [Steve Antony, President and CEO of Energy Fuels] said, adding that the move will combine the asset of the only operating uranium mill in the U.S., White Mesa, with a significant resource base that can feed it. “The result is an unmatched production growth profile and the opportunity for both Energy Fuels and Denison shareholders to benefit from the clear operational synergies that result from this transaction,” he said. “I look forward to working with Denison’s U.S. team to maximize the benefits of this important combination.”[…]

Moore said the transaction is largely unrelated to the proposed Piñon Ridge Mill, and said Energy Fuels will continue to defend the licensing process in court and pursue the project…

Moore added that the deal will allow Energy Fuels to evaluate opening two of its mines, the Energy Queen and Whirlwind, in order to accelerate the economic development Energy Fuels wants to get started in the region. According to Denison Mines’ website, the White Mesa Mill, which is located six miles south of Blanding, is licensed to process of average of 2,000 tons of ore per day. In full operation, the mill employs approximately 150 people…

Energy Fuels also recently acquired Titan Uranium Inc., which includes the Sheep Mountain Project in the Crooks Gap District of Wyoming. Energy Fuels announced an updated Preliminary Feasibility Study for Sheep Mountain on March 1.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

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