On August 2, 2013, the Company began production activities at its Lost Creek Project. Innovative design and development have focused on employee and environmental safety, water management practices, and advanced instrumentation monitoring and data capture. First sales of Lost Creek yellowcake were made in December 2013 and during the second quarter of 2015, Lost Creek achieved the milestone of producing its one millionth pound of U3O8 since production activities began.
Lost Creek Property Resource Estimate
The Lost Creek Property consists of six contiguous project areas totaling approximately 42,000 acres. The Lost Creek Project is the fully-permitted and licensed project where uranium production operations began in 2013.
The Lost Creek Project is part of the larger Lost Creek Property located in the Great Divide Basin, Wyoming which comprises six projects: Lost Creek permit area (“Lost Creek Project”), EN, LC South, LC North, LC East and LC West. The uranium deposit at the Lost Creek Project is referred to as the Main Mineral Trend (“MMT”). The Company’s East Mineral Trend (the “EMT”) is a second mineral trend of significance. It was identified by historic drilling on the lands forming LC East. Although geologically similar, it appears to be a separate and independent trend from the MMT.
An updated preliminary economic assessment (PEA) was issued on January 19, 2016. The current mineral resource estimate for the Lost Creek Property, after subtracting 1.358 million pounds of uranium produced from MU1 through September 30, 2015, is 13.251 million pounds in the Measured and Indicated categories, and 6.439 million pounds in the Inferred category. The current resource estimate represents a net increase to all Lost Creek Property projects of:
- 3.146 million pounds eU3O8 in the Measured and Indicated categories (after adjustment for MU1 production), or 31% increase when compared with the previous resource estimate in the June 17, 2015 Technical Report; and
- 1.402 million pounds eU3O8 in the Inferred category, or a 28% increase to the last mineral resource.
The economic analyses within the PEA continue to demonstrate the potential economic viability of the project. The analyses have been revised to evaluate the impact of additional identified resources with information and data acquired through two years of ISR operations at Lost Creek. Total future life of mine production is modeled to be 13.8 million pounds and with production operations ending in 2031. This represents a nine year life of mine extension from the forecast contained in the previous PEA.
Cautionary Statement: This Preliminary Economic Assessment is preliminary in nature, and includes inferred mineral resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves. The estimated mineral recovery used in this Preliminary Economic Assessment is based on recovery data from wellfield operations to date, as well as URE personnel and industry experience at similar facilities. There can be no assurance that recovery at this level will be achieved.
2015 Lost Creek Project Operations
The fourth quarter of 2015 is the ninth consecutive quarter of sales since operations began at Lost Creek. During the fourth quarter, production was sourced from twelve header houses in the first mine unit; header house 12 was brought online in November. Construction is underway on header house 13. After more than two years of operations, year-to-date plant head grades remain at 97 ppm despite having somewhat lower head grades for the quarter. Head grade during December was 87 ppm, which was above the quarter’s average grade of 85 ppm. The lower head grade during this period of operation, as well as varying month-to-month grades, is a typical result as the mine matures and older operating patterns remain in the flow regime while newer patterns are brought online. This maturation of mine is also demonstrated through the increasing average flowrates, with a 454 gpm (23.5%) increase quarter-over-quarter.
For the quarter, 211,717 pounds of U3O8 were captured within the Lost Creek plant; 189,480 pounds U3O8 were packaged in drums; and 181,567 pounds U3O8 of drummed inventory were shipped from the Lost Creek processing plant to the converter. Production numbers increased quarter-over-quarter, with an increase of nearly 23% additional captured pounds and an increase of 7% additional dried and drummed pounds. At December 31, inventory at the conversion facility was approximately 63,776 pounds U3O8.
Contract and spot sales for the quarter from Lost Creek-produced U3O8 totaled 225,000 pounds at an average price of $34.47 per pound, for sales revenues of $7.8 million during the quarter. This concludes the second calendar year (and ninth consecutive quarter) of sales since operations began at Lost Creek. From production, Lost Creek sold 725,000 pounds U3O8 during calendar 2015 at an average price of $41.33 per pound. Total sales for 2015, including purchased U3O8, was 925,000 pounds at an average price of $45.20 per pound. Contract sales were as expected (630,000 pounds at an average price of $49.42 per pound); however, spot sales were lower than expected (295,000 pounds at an average price of $36.18) due to the continuing low spot price environment.
Lost Creek currently employs approximately 56 full time employees. The Company holds long-term sales contracts with several U.S. based nuclear utility companies, spanning the time frame 2013-2021, and anticipates making additional sales into spot market sales agreements. The uranium produced at the Lost Creek Project will ultimately become the fuel that provides clean energy for the nation’s power grid.
Cautionary Note to U.S. Investors: The terms “mineral resource,” “measured mineral resource,” and “indicated mineral resource,” as used on this webpage are Canadian mining terms that are defined in accordance with Canadian National Instrument 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”). These Canadian terms are not defined terms under United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) Industry Guide 7 and are normally not permitted to be used in reports and registration statements filed with the SEC by U.S. registered companies. The SEC permits U.S. companies, in their filings with the SEC, to disclose only those mineral deposits that a company can economically and legally extract or produce. Accordingly, note that information contained on this webpage describing the Company’s “mineral resources” is not directly comparable to information made public by U.S. companies subject to reporting requirements under U.S. securities laws. U.S. investors are urged to consider closely the disclosure in our Annual Report on Form 10-K which may be secured from us, or online at http://www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml.
John Cooper, Ur-Energy Sr. Project Geologist, P.Geo., SME Registered Member and Qualified Person as defined by National Instrument 43-101, reviewed and approved the technical information contained on this webpage.