Pilot to commence in November
Planned production of over 10 metric tonnes of branded battery graphite products by the end of Q1 2021
CENTENNIAL, Colo. October 9, 2020 – Westwater Resources, Inc. (“Westwater”) (Nasdaq: WWR), an energy materials development company, today announced that it has taken delivery of 30 metric tonnes of natural flake graphite concentrate at Dorfner Anzaplan’s facility in Hirschau, Germany, purchased under the Company’s long-term graphite purchase agreement. This material will be utilized in the pilot plant currently being constructed at Dorfner Anzaplan’s facilities near Amberg, Germany, as well as at facilities in Frankfort, Germany, Chicago, Illinois and Buffalo, New York. This combined effort is expected to produce a total of more than 10 metric tonnes of three trademarked battery graphite products: ULTRA-PMGTM, ULTRA-CSPGTM and ULTRA-DEXDGTM.
Christopher M. Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer of Westwater, said, “This pilot plant is unique in several aspects. We are utilizing several years of accumulated science and engineering technical data to produce battery products through an environmentally sensitive process for testing by our prospective customers. This pilot will produce high quality and high-performance battery graphite products that will be consistent with our full-scale production facility.”
Purification, the first step in preparing battery graphite concentrate, will take place in Germany at locations under the direct supervision of Dorfner Anzaplan. The purified product will then be sized and, in the case of CSPG, spheronized at a nearby facility. The largest size fractions will be sent to a lab in Chicago for DEXDG production, while a partially purified fraction will be sent to Buffalo, NY for high temperature furnace testing.
As part of the pilot program, Westwater will measure all inputs, such as energy and reagents, as well as all outputs, to ensure these high-performance battery graphite products are manufactured in a way that doesn’t cause harm to the Company’s employees, to the communities in which it works and in the surrounding environment. These measurements will be used in the Bankable Feasibility Study to be completed by mid-year 2021; this study will include plans for the final design of the commercial production facility and is expected to be the basis for the construction of the facility from mid-2021 through 2022. Plant commissioning is expected in Q4 2022. Westwater’s pilot plant battery graphite products will be tested for performance at labs in Germany and the United States.
“The Coosa Graphite Project is perfectly timed to take advantage of the advances in the electrification of our transportation system and grid electricity storage for renewable energy here in the United States and the rest of the world,” Mr. Jones added. “These systems need graphite as a critical ingredient. Our development plan puts battery graphite in the marketplace and accelerates Westwater’s path to cash flow. We are getting our foot in the door early.”
Graphite Purification Patent Application
Westwater has applied for a Provisional Patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its proprietary graphite purification technology. This proprietary process, which does not utilize hydrofluoric acid, is a purification methodology with a more sustainable footprint than those currently used in China and elsewhere. This purification process is an integral component of the Company’s pilot plant program, which was announced on August 20, 2020.
The invention claimed in the provisional patent application relates to a method of obtaining highly purified graphite – having a graphitic carbon (Cg) grade of at least 99.95% – from a natural flake graphite concentrate sample. The method comprises three steps:
(1) caustic roasting of the graphite concentrate sample;
(2) acid leaching of the roasted sample; and
(3) thermal treatment of the sample.
Additional steps involving water washing and drying are included in some methods. The methods provided in the application may further include any combination of varying the weight percentage of the caustic solution, varying the temperature of and time for the caustic roasting, varying the temperature of and time for the acid leaching, and/or varying the temperature of, time for, and the atmosphere used in the thermal treatment.
Westwater will provide updates on this exciting project over the coming weeks and months.
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. Commencement of the pilot plant operations is scheduled for 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 and eventual commercial production facility; future production of battery grade graphite, including the timing and quantity of battery graphite products to be produced from the graphite concentrate delivered to the Company; the timing and contents of a Bankable Feasibility Study; the Company’s anticipated intellectual property rights; 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 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, 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 vanadium industry, the uranium industry, and the power industry, and government support for domestic uranium production and nuclear power; (g) world-wide graphite, 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, and New Mexico; (j) the ability of the Company to enter into and successfully close acquisitions or other material transactions, including the proposed transaction with enCore; (k) any graphite, vanadium or uranium discoveries not being in high-enough concentration to make it economic to extract the minerals; (l) currently pending or new litigation or arbitration; and (m) 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.