Construction Activities Underway of Commercial Scale Facility in Coosa County, Alabama
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit
Granted to Westwater for Commencement of Site Grading
Construction Plan on Schedule for 2023 Completion
Centennial, CO — February 14, 2022: Westwater Resources, Inc. (NYSE American: WWR), a battery-grade, natural graphite development company (“Westwater” or the “Company”), is pleased to announce its year-end 2021 results and provide a business review, including the recently announced management succession changes.
On February 9, 2022, the Company announced the retirement of Christopher M. Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and a member of the Board, effective February 25, 2022. Chad M. Potter, who is serving as Chief Operating Officer (COO), has been elected Westwater’s new President and CEO, and appointed to fill the Board vacancy created by Mr. Jones’ departure, effective February 26, 2022. Mr. Potter’s appointment is the result of a planned succession strategy dating back to 2021. The Board also announced that, effective February 26, 2022, Terence J. Cryan will become the Company’s Executive Chairman.
Messrs. Cryan, Jones, and Potter, along with Jeffrey L. Vigil, Westwater’s Vice President – Finance and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), will be available to discuss these changes further during the Company’s year-end conference call at 11 am EST/9 am MST on Monday, February 14, 2022. See dial-in details below.
During 2021, the Westwater team achieved critical milestones and achievements, notably:
- Completed the Definitive Feasibility Study (“DFS”) for Phase I of the Company’s proposed battery-grade graphite processing facility near Kellyton, Alabama (the “Coosa Plant”) – defining our process parameters and providing critical information for detailed design and construction.
- Completed our Pilot Program, resulting in 13 metric tonnes of finished product.
- Acquired two buildings adjacent to the Coosa Plant, which provides 90,000 sq ft of office, laboratory and warehouse space and avoids the need to construct similar facilities as part of plant construction.
- Entered into incentive agreements with the State of Alabama and local municipalities for the siting of the Coosa Plant.
- Signed a lease with a nominal cost for 70 acres where the Coosa Plant is sited.
- Applied for a patent on purification of graphite concentrate.
- Signed a letter of intent for the sale of 125-250 metric tonnes of product.
- After year-end, received the NPDES Permit required for site grading.
“In a very challenging global business environment, we had our most productive year, achieving meaningful milestones towards our goal to develop a battery-grade graphite manufacturing business in Alabama,” said Chris Jones, CEO of Westwater. “These accomplishments were the result of our extraordinary team advancing the Company towards the construction of our Coosa Plant which is on schedule for completion in the first half of 2023.”
“Westwater has in place a contract for the purchase of graphite flake as feedstock for the Coosa Plant until the Coosa Deposit is developed,” said Chad Potter, COO of Westwater. “In addition to the letter of intent we recently signed, Westwater has initiated discussions with several battery manufacturers, with the goal of signing multi-year supply agreements. Our marketing plan activities also include a number of automobile manufacturers who will soon begin manufacturing and marketing electric vehicles.”
“Westwater’s decision to focus on developing and producing energy materials was enhanced in February 2021, when the U.S. Government named graphite and vanadium as critical minerals that are essential to the U.S. economy and national security,” Mr. Potter continued. “With construction of the Coosa Plant and production of battery-grade graphite scheduled for 2023, plus permitting and development of the Coosa Deposit for flake graphite production planned for 2028, we are poised to become the first fully integrated U.S. domestic graphite producer.”
Westwater previously announced vanadium was discovered in addition to graphite on the Coosa Deposit, and programs have been implemented to demonstrate the possible size and value of the vanadium and the extent of the overall ore body. In 2021, we began further exploration of the Coosa Deposit to increase our knowledge of the geology, mineralization and economic potential of both the graphite and vanadium present on the deposit. This exploration will continue through the first quarter of 2022, with a technical report completed by the end of 2022.
“Our financial results for the year ended December 31, 2021, reflect increases in product development, exploration and general and administrative costs as we significantly increase our activities in executing our plans to bring the Coosa Project into commercial development,” said Jeff Vigil, CFO of Westwater.
|($ in 000’s, Except Per Share Amounts)||FY 2021||FY 2020||Variance|
|Net Cash Used in Operations||$(16,916)||$(15,183)||11%|
|Product Development Expenses||$(5,975)||$(4,049)||48%|
|General and Administrative Expenses*||$(8,875)||$(7,343)||21%|
|Net Loss Per Share||$(0.49)||$(2.68)||-82%|
|Avg. Weighted Shares Outstanding||32,653,089||8,799,190||271%|
*General and Administrative Expenses for the year ended December 31, 2020, includes $1.7 million of expenses attributable to discontinued operations.
Net cash used in operations increased $1.7 million due to increased graphite product development, exploration and general and administration and arbitration costs.
Product development expenses for the year ended December 31, 2021, increased by $1.9 million, as compared to 2020. Product development costs were primarily related to the DFS, which began in February 2021 and was completed in October 2021, and our product development program that continued through the end 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 administrative costs for the year ended December 31, 2021, increased by $1.5 million, as compared to 2020. The increased costs were primarily due to increased sales and marketing costs, higher stock compensation expense, as well as higher public company expenses. These increases were offset partially by the elimination of $1.7 million of costs attributable to Westwater’s uranium business, which was sold in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Net loss from continuing operations was $16.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2021, or $0.49, as compared to a net loss in 2020 of $13.9 million or $1.58 per share. The $2.2 million increase was due largely to increases in production development, exploration expenses and general and administrative costs.
Net loss from discontinuing operations of $9.7 million for 2020 relates to the sale of Westwater’s uranium business in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Westwater also incurred exploration expenses of $1.1 million in 2021 to investigate the extent of mineral concentrations at the Coosa Deposit. Westwater anticipates completing its exploration program during the first quarter of 2022. Following the completion of its exploration program on the Coosa Deposit, Westwater intends to complete a technical report related to the mineral concentrations discovered.
Cash and Working Capital
As of December 31, 2021, the Company’s cash balance was $115.3 million, compared to $50.3 million as of December 31, 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.
Total shares outstanding are 35.4 million as of February 10, 2022.
Management will host a conference call to discuss these results and the management succession change on February 14, 2022, at 11:00 AM EDT (9:00 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 the call.
A live webcast of the conference call presentation will also be available through the Company’s website: www.westwaterresources.net
For a replay of the call:
Canada/USA TF: 1-855-669-9658
International Toll: +1-412-317-0088
Replay Access Code: 8289
About Westwater Resources Inc.
Westwater Resources Inc. (NYSE American: WWR) is focused on developing battery-grade natural graphite. The Company’s primary project is the Coosa Project — the most advanced natural flake graphite project in the contiguous United States — which includes the Coosa Plant located near Kellyton, Alabama and the associated Coosa 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 Coosa Plant and the costs and schedules associated therewith, our business strategy, any future drilling or production from the Company’s properties, including the expected mining operations at the Coosa Deposit, expected mineralization at the Coosa Deposit, expected date of the technical report for the Coosa Deposit and the expected commencement date of drilling at the Coosa Deposit 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’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021, 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 we operate; (c) the ability to obtain contracts with customers; (d) available sources and transportation of graphite feedstock; (e) the ability to control costs and avoid cost and schedule overruns during the development, construction and operation of the Coosa Project; (f) the ability to construct and operate the Coosa Plant in accordance with the requirements of permits and licenses and the requirements of tax credits and other incentives; (g) government regulation of the mining and manufacturing industries in the United States; (h) unanticipated geological, processing, regulatory and legal or other problems we may encounter; (i) the results of our exploration activities, and the possibility that future exploration results may be materially less promising than initial exploration results; (j) any graphite or vanadium discoveries not being in high enough concentration to make it economic to extract the metals; (k) our ability to finance growth plans; (l) the potential effects of the continued COVID-19 pandemic; (m) currently pending or new litigation or arbitration; and (n) our ability to maintain and timely receive mining, manufacturing, and other permits from regulatory agencies.
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.
Terence J. Cryan, Chairman of the Board
Phone : 303-531-0516
Jeff Vigil, VP Finance & CFO
Product Sales Contact:
Jay Wago, Vice President – Sales and Marketing
Porter, LeVay & Rose
Michael Porter, President