Okapi invests in innovative enrichment technology

20 February 2023

Uranium company Okapi Resources plans to use the proceeds from a USD5.1 million fundraise for its recently announced investment in uranium enrichment technology as well for advancing its North American uranium projects.

Yellowcake - the mixture of uranium oxides produced after milling uranium (Image: US Nuclear Regulatory Commission/Energy Fuels)

Perth, Western Australia-based Okapi announced in January that it had agreed to become a
"cornerstone shareholder" in Ubaryon Pty Ltd, a private Australian company which is developing and commercialising a novel uranium enrichment technology based on the chemical separation of naturally occurring isotopes, acquiring an initial 19.9% interest in Ubaryon for AUD3.1 million (USD2.1 million). That transaction is expected to close by the end of March.

Ubaryon's technology grew from the 2015 observation of an anomaly in uranium isotope separation during environmental testing. The company subsequently applied for a patent, and the intellectual property has been classified by the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) since 2018.

According to Okapi, Ubaryon's technology eliminates the need for conversion from yellowcake to UF6 and for deconversion from UF6 to uranium oxide, simplifying the nuclear fuel cycle and allowing for additional supply chain flexibility. Ubaryon is permitted by ASNO to possess nuclear material, and the technology has been tested and validated over a significant number of experimental runs with tests carried out on uranium feedstock and product. A "statistically significant enrichment factor" has been observed, between 10 and 30 times higher than that of previous chemical enrichment technologies developed in France and Japan.

Ubaryon is now working at a laboratory at Lucas Heights in Sydney to accelerate development of the technology, initially focusing on the validation of the isotope separation mechanism and extension of its enrichment factor, Okapi said. It has also demonstrated proof of concept for a significant improvement of the subsequent recovery stages.

Okapi Managing Director Andrew Ferrier previously described Okapi's investment in Ubaryon as synergistic with its portfolio of North American uranium assets. The company says it intends to use the funds raised through the two-tranche share placement to fund its investment in the uranium enrichment technology company, and to advance its Tallahassee and Maybell uranium projects in Colorado, USA and its six exploration projects in Canada's Athabasca basin.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News