Definitive Feasibility Study Completed – Contractor Proposals Initiated
Coosa Graphite Deposit Exploration to Continue for Remainder of 2021
Centennial, CO – November 11, 2021: Westwater Resources, Inc. (NYSE: American: WWR) (“Westwater Resources” or “the Company”), a battery grade natural graphite development company, today announced its third quarter results for the period ended September 30, 2021 and provided an update on its Coosa Graphite Project (“Project”).
During the nine months ended September 30, 2021, Westwater substantially completed its pilot program at facilities located in Amberg and Frankfort Germany, Chicago, IL, and Buffalo, NY. These facilities produced 13.2 metric tonnes of battery-grade graphite which provided product samples for testing by potential customers. Results from the pilot program operations were also used to inform and enhance design work for the commercial production facility, which was incorporated into the Definitive Feasibility Study (“DFS”).
On October 11, 2021, Westwater Resources announced the results of the DFS pertaining to Phase I of the Project and a plan and design for Phase II of the Project at a pre-feasibility level (“PFS”). The capital costs of Phase I are estimated at $202 million and, after processing and purification, the Company expects to produce approximately 7,500 mt per year of purified graphite products. The capital costs of Phase II are estimated at $464 million and, after processing and purification, the Company expects to produce approximately 32,400 mt per year of purified graphite products from both phases. The Company intends to initiate a second DFS for Phase II upon completion and commissioning of Phase I.
On October 11, 2021, the Westwater Resources Board of Directors approved the construction and commissioning plan for Phase I of the Project. Construction activities are expected to begin before the end of 2021 and, beginning in early 2023, Phase I of the facility is expected to begin production operations with purchased graphite feedstock from outside sources until at least 2028; after 2028, Westwater Resources expects to produce graphite feedstock from its Coosa Graphite Deposit (near Rockford, AL). The Company anticipates financing Phase I expenditures using its current treasury and its existing finance facilities and may evaluate opportunities for project financing utilizing debt and equity instruments.
On October 13, 2021, Westwater completed the purchase of two buildings that total approximately 90,000 sq. ft. to support the Project. These buildings are adjacent to the graphite processing facility and will be used for the Project’s administrative offices, laboratory and warehousing space. The purchase of these two buildings mitigates the need for certain construction activities.
Immediate next steps are the creation of the construction management team, which will be led by Chad Potter, Westwater Resources’ Chief Operating Officer. Westwater Resources is in the process of soliciting proposals for construction management, engineering and procurement and for various contractors who will build and assemble the processing facility.
The Coosa Graphite Deposit exploration effort will continue throughout the remainder of the year, and the Company is actively drilling various targets to expand its knowledge of the geology and improve the existing resource model. In addition, vanadium mineralization is expected to be evaluated to ascertain any economic potential.
The President of the United States signed an executive order that seeks to provide for a more resilient supply chain to revitalize and rebuild domestic capacity of graphite and vanadium to reduce the United States’ heavy dependence on China. Both minerals have been given critical metal status. With regard to graphite, the United States is almost 100 percent dependent on imports for battery-grade graphite, which is currently the primary anode material in the Lithium-Ion batteries that power smartphones, laptops, electric vehicles and store power generated from intermittent renewable energy sources. It is expected that the Project will ultimately supply natural flake graphite for beneficiation into battery-grade graphite for all types of batteries.
“The past nine months have been the most productive period in the Company’s recent history,” said Christopher Jones, CEO of Westwater Resources. “We completed our pilot program which produced 13.2 metric tonnes of graphite for final testing. We sent samples of our products to several customers for evaluation and are in contact with more potential customers. Our marketing efforts have resulted in engagements with potential customers with various battery manufacturers, original equipment manufacturers and battery developers.”
“We are excited about the results of the DFS for the Project,” Jones continued. “Our Board of Directors approved an investment of $202 million to build Phase I of our graphite processing facility, which is expected to be operational in early 2023. We also purchased two buildings which will support the development of the Project. These buildings are adjacent to the proposed site of the graphite processing facility and will be used for the Project’s administrative offices, laboratory, and warehouse space. We have requested proposals from contractors, with construction expected to begin before the end of the year.”
“Westwater Resources is grateful to the Governor of Alabama and other state and local leaders who worked with us to bring this unique graphite project to the state,” Jones concluded. “We expect to benefit from the Alabama Jobs Act by securing certain tax credits and other incentives for over 10 years and the grant of land for the siting of the processing facility at minimal cost. At the Westwater Resources corporate level, this year we joined the Russell Microcap Index, an important milestone for us, and we transferred our listing to the NYSE American. All around, it’s been a productive nine months for us.”
|($ in 000’s, Except Per Share Amounts)||Q3 2021||Q3 2020||Variance|
|Net Cash Used in Operations*||$(13,040)||$(10,134)||29%|
|Product Development Expenses||$(1,834)||$(1,641)||12%|
|General and Administrative Expenses**||$(2,189)||$(1,941)||13%|
|Net Loss Per Share||$(0.13)||$(1.23)||-89%|
|Avg. Weighted Shares Outstanding||34,331,778||7,904,522||334%|
* Net Cash Used in Operations is presented on a year-to-date basis.
**General and Administrative Expenses for the three months ended September 30, 2020, includes $405 thousand of expense attributable to discontinued operations.
Net Cash Used in Consolidated Operations
Net cash used in operating activities for the first nine months of 2021 increased $2.9 million compared to the same period in the prior year. The increase was due primarily to increased graphite product development, exploration, general and administrative, and arbitration costs in 2021.
Product Development Expenses
Product development expenses for the third quarter 2021 increased $0.2 million, compared to the same prior-year quarter. Product development costs were primarily comprised of expenses for our DFS, which began in February 2021 and was completed in October 2021, and our product development program continued through the first nine months of 2021. The product development program includes costs incurred to collaborate with outside experts for lab work, product testing and other auxiliary costs associated with the Coosa Project.
General and Administration Costs
General and Administration expenses for the third quarter 2021 increased $0.2 million compared to the same prior-year quarter, due primarily to higher stock compensation, and sales and marketing efforts that began in the third quarter of 2020 and have continued throughout 2021. These increases were offset partially by lower personnel costs due to the sale of Westwater’s uranium business on December 31, 2020.
Net loss for the three months ended September 30, 2021, was $4.6 million, or $0.13 per share, as compared with a net loss of $9.8 million or $1.23 per share in 2020. The $5.2 million decrease in the net loss was due primarily to the elimination of costs from our former uranium business, and an unrealized gain related to the enCore common stock of $0.5 million. These decreases were offset partially by increases in general and administrative, arbitration, exploration and product development expenses.
Cash and Subsequent Financing Activity
As of September 30, 2021, the Company’s cash balance was $119.0 million compared to $5.5 million as of September 30, 2020. The significant increase in 2021 was due to capital raises utilizing the company’s financing facilities with Cantor Fitzgerald & Co. and Lincoln Park Capital LLC.
Subsequent to September 30, 2021, and through the date of this release, the company has sold 637,200 common shares for net proceeds of $2.3 million – pursuant to its financing facility with Cantor Fitzgerald & Co. – and liquidated its holdings of enCore common stock for net cash proceeds of $3.6 million.
Total shares outstanding are 35.3 million as of November 11, 2021.
Management will host a conference call to discuss these results on November 11, 2021, at 10:00 AM EDT (8:00 AM Mountain).
The dial-in numbers are:
Canada/USA TF: 1-800-319-4610
International Toll: +1-604-638-5340
Callers should dial in 5 – 10 min prior to the scheduled start time and simply ask to join your call.
For a replay of the call:
Canada/USA TF: 1-855-669-9658
International Toll: +1-412-317-0088
Replay Access Code: 7635
About Westwater Resources Inc.
Westwater Resources Inc. (NYSE American: WWR) is focused on developing battery-grade graphite. The Company’s primary project is the Coosa Graphite Project — the most advanced natural flake graphite project in the contiguous United States — and the associated Coosa Graphite Deposit located across 41,900 acres (~17,000 hectares) in east-central Alabama. For more information, visit www.westwaterresources.net.
Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
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. Forward looking statements include, among other things, statements concerning the construction and operation of the Company’s graphite processing facility and the related costs and schedules associated therewith, estimated production levels, expected sources of graphite feedstock, potential sources of capital and expected benefit from the Alabama Jobs Act and tax credits. The company cautions that there are certain factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information that has been provided. The reader is cautioned not to put undue reliance on this forward-looking information, which is not a guarantee of future performance and is subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside the control of the company; accordingly, there can be no assurance that such suggested results will be realized. The following factors, in addition to those discussed in Westwater Resources’ Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020, and subsequent securities filings, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information: (a) the spot price and long-term contract price of graphite (both flake graphite feedstock and purified graphite products) and vanadium, and the world-wide supply and demand of graphite and vanadium; (b) the effects, extent and timing of the entry of additional competition in the markets in which the Company operates; (c) the ability to obtain contracts with customers; (d) available sources and transportation of graphite feedstock; (e) government regulation of the mining and processing industries in the United States; (f) the Company’s ability to maintain and timely receive mining and other permits from regulatory agencies; (g) the ability to control costs and avoid cost and schedule overruns during the development, construction and operation of the Project; (h) risks associated with the Company’s operations and the operations of the Company’s partners, including the impact of COVID-19 and supply chain disruptions; (j) unanticipated geological, processing, regulatory and legal or other problems the Company may encounter; (k) the results of the Company’s exploration activities, and the possibility that future exploration results may be materially less promising than initial exploration results; (l) any graphite or vanadium discoveries not being in high enough concentration to make it economic to extract the metals; (m) the Company’s ability to finance growth plans; (n) currently pending or new litigation or arbitration; 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.
Westwater Resources Inc.
Christopher M. Jones, President & CEO
Jeff Vigil, VP Finance & CFO
Product Sales Contact:
Jay Wago, Vice President – Sales and Marketing
Porter, LeVay & Rose
Michael Porter, President