New uranium company joins the industry, despite historic price lows | Energy Journal

Despite near record low prices in the uranium industry, a new company is planning to do exploration at historic mine sites in the Cowboy State and begin production of yellowcake in the next few years.

URZ Energy Corp. launched its IPO on the TSX Venture Exchange, a Canadian stock exchange, last week.

Initial operations will be explorative, as the company gauges the potential of the historic sites, one near Baggs, one in Natrona County and another in the Shirley Basin.

Starting out, operations will likely provide around 25 jobs, half of those contractors to do the drilling.

The company has a tentative goal of producing half a million tons of uranium annually, with that increasing to between 1 million and 2 million tons a year. Once operations are underway, the company should generate between 100 and 125 jobs, said CEO Glen Catchpole.

Catchpole is a familiar name in the Wyoming uranium industry. He was the CEO of Uranerz Energy, which operated the Nichols Ranch facility in Johnson County.

Uranerz disbanded in 2015 when its assets were bought by Energy Fuels for $180 million. Catchpole stayed on as a board member for Energy Fuels until joining URZ in February.

It may seem like odd timing to start new operations, Catchpole said.

The uranium industry has faced a number of challenges in recent years, with low prices significantly cutting back production. Operators were so concerned by price lows that companies recently approached Wyoming lawmakers seeking a tax break.

Global competition and reduced demand has kept the price depressed, but new nuclear facilities being built — which use enriched uranium to produce power — have some hopeful of a price rise. Demand is expected to increase overseas and some anticipate a supply shortage, Catchpole said.

He anticipates the value of uranium to slowly rebound over the next five years.

That will give…

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