Challenging times highlight supply chain importance, says UEC chief

20 March 2020

Recent global events and supply disruptions have highlighted the importance of domestic supply chains, the CEO of US uranium producer Uranium Energy Corp (UEC) said today. The company has postponed plans to resume a drilling programme at its Burke Hollow in-situ leach (ISL) project until market conditions "normalise".

The Hobson Processing Facility in Texas (Image: @UraniumEnergy)

"As we work through these challenging times, we will continue to maintain our core principles, keeping our employees safe and operating the company with fiscal discipline," Amir Adnani said.  "Additionally, the recent global events and supply disruptions further underscore the importance of domestic supply chains for vital resources. The proposed budget from the US Administration outlining a 10-year, USD1.5 billion programme to purchase domestically mined uranium for a national Uranium Reserve will be crucial to reviving the 100% idled US uranium industry."

Adnani was referring to the US Administration's 2021 budget proposal for a scheme to purchase domestically mined uranium for a national uranium reserve, announced in February. The programme would aim to address challenges to the production of domestic uranium and would would ensure a backup supply of uranium in the event of a significant market disruption.

UEC's South Texas "hub and spoke" operations are centred on the fully licensed Hobson Processing Facility - currently on stand-by - which serves the Palangana, Burke Hollow and Goliad ISL projects. The company also controls the permitted, pre-construction Reno Creek uranium project in Wyoming. In an update on measures it has taken to address the safety of its employees in response to COVID-19, and to lower operating expenses and adjust timing on capital expenditures, the company said maintenance protocols at the Hobson plant and Palangana mine remain unchanged, but plans to resume last year's drilling programme at Burke Hollow would be postponed.

According to preliminary figures published last month by the US Energy Information Administration, the country's 2019 uranium production of 173,875 pounds U3O8 (67 tU) in 2019 was 88% lower than the nearly 1.5 million pounds produced in 2018 and the lowest annual US production on record.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News