CENTENNIAL, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Westwater Resources, Inc. (Nasdaq: WWR), an energy materials development company, today announced the commencement of its graphite pilot plant program. Westwater’s Coosa Project in Alabama is expected to be the first U.S. domestic producer and processor of battery graphite materials.
In November 2019, Westwater announced it had engaged Dorfner Anzaplan of Hirschau, Germany to advance the development of processes needed to purify graphite concentrates and to produce the Westwater’s battery grade products: ULTRA-PMGTM, ULTRA-SPGTM and ULTRA-DEXDGTM . Dorfner Anzaplan is an internationally recognized and highly regarded organization that specializes in high-purity industrial and strategic metals businesses. Dorfner Anzaplan employs state-of-the-art analytical methods and facilities and uses innovative processing technologies to provide effective solutions tailored to their clients’ requirements. All testing has been completed and, going forward, all required manufacturing equipment has been or is being ordered; construction to build an operational pilot plant will begin shortly.
Christopher M. Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “This is an incredible milestone for Westwater. Positive laboratory test results over the last year has enabled the Company to forge ahead with its plan to construct and operate a pilot plant that will make battery graphite materials in quantity using processes that simulate full production conditions. With the assistance of our technology partners, including Dorfner Anzaplan, a pilot plant will be designed and constructed in September-October of 2020 and is on track to operate later this year with the intention of making material available to our potential customers in quantities and of a quality suitable for testing and qualification. Successful completion of the pilot plant program, and customer qualification of graphite products from the plant, will position Westwater to begin a feasibility study that designs a commercial-scale plant, anticipated to be complete mid-year 2021. The commercial plant is expected to be commissioned in late 2022, producing this critical component for today’s high-performance battery applications. We have made graphite samples available to a number of potential customers for testing, and these tests have been successful. We believe our graphite materials can garner a significant global market share as we move forward.”
Westwater is developing proprietary processes for the production of battery grade graphite from non-Chinese sources that are designed to manufacture high performing products while ensuring a sustainable environmental footprint and low production costs. Test work on the products from these processes has been performed already in laboratories in Germany and the United States, and those results show that the performance of the Coosa Project’s graphite is on par with or exceeds that of currently available battery products. The next step in Westwater’s development process is the operation of a pilot plant that is designed to process approximately 30-tonnes of graphite concentrate and to produce more than ten metric tons of ULTRA-PMGTM, ULTRA-SPGTM and ULTRA-DEXDGTM products, now scheduled for later this year and the first part of 2021.
Commitments have been received from the various vendors involved in the project and long lead time items are in the process of being ordered. The 30-tonnes of graphite concentrate has been purchased and will be transported to Dorfner Anzaplan’s facility for September delivery. The Company will provide updates on this exciting project over the coming weeks and months. Funding for this effort is expected to come from existing financing instruments presently in place with Westwater.
About Westwater Resources
Westwater Resources (NASDAQ: WWR) is focused on developing energy-related materials. The Company’s battery-materials projects include the Coosa Graphite Project — the most advanced natural flake graphite project in the contiguous United States — and the associated Coosa Graphite Mine located across 41,900 acres (~17,000 hectares) in east-central Alabama. Processing pilot plant operations are scheduled in the fourth quarter of 2020, producing ULTRA-PMGTM, ULTRA-DEXDGTM and ULTRA-CSPGTM in quantities that facilitate qualification testing at potential customers. For more information, visit www.westwaterresources.net.
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. All statements addressing events or developments that WWR expects or anticipates will occur in the future, including but not limited to the commencement of operations at the pilot plant, future production of battery grade graphite, developments at the Company’s projects, and the Company’s liquidity and cash demands, including future capital markets financing activities, are forward-looking statements. Because they are forward-looking, they should be evaluated in light of important risk factors and uncertainties. These risk factors and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, (a) the Company’s ability to successfully construct and operate a pilot 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, lithium, vanadium and uranium; (d) risks associated with our operations and the operations of our partners such as Dorfner Anzaplan, including the impact of COVID-19 and its potential impacts to the capital markets; (e) operating conditions at the Company’s projects; (f) government and tribal regulation of the graphite industry, the lithium industry, the vanadium industry, the uranium industry, and the power industry, and government support for domestic uranium production and nuclear power; (g) world-wide graphite, lithium, vanadium and uranium supply and demand, including the supply and demand for lithium-based batteries; (h) maintaining sufficient financial assurance in the form of sufficiently collateralized surety instruments; (i) 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 in Alabama, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada; (j) the ability of the Company to enter into and successfully close acquisitions or other material transactions; (k) the results of the Company’s lithium brine exploration activities at the Columbus Basin and Sal Rica projects, and the possibility that future exploration results may be materially less promising than initial exploration result; (l) any graphite, lithium, vanadium or uranium discoveries not being in high-enough concentration to make it economic to extract the metals; (m) currently pending or new litigation or arbitration; and (n) other factors which are more fully described in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize or should any of the Company’s underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those currently anticipated. In addition, undue reliance should not be placed on the Company’s forward-looking statements. 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.