Merger to fast-track Turkish uranium project

04 June 2015

A US uranium processing plant could be shipped to Turkey to fast-track uranium production under a newly announced merger of Uranium Resources Inc with Australian uranium and exploration company Anatolia Energy, owner of the Temrezli uranium project.

Anatolia and Uranium Resources have entered into a binding scheme implementation agreement under which Uranium Resources proposes to acquire all of Anatolia's issued and outstanding securities through the issue of new securities in Uranium Resources.

The two companies said in a statement that the expanded company created by the merger would have the potential for near-term production from Temrezli, which has measured and indicated resources of 11.3 million pounds U3O8 (4347 tU) plus some 2 million pounds U3O8 (769 tU) of inferred resources. A pre-feasibility study completed earlier this year revealed strong economics for the project, and Anatolia has taken the first steps in the permitting process with a view to production starting in 2016.

Uranium Resources controls extensive uranium mineral holdings in Texas and New Mexico, as well as licensed in situ leach (ISL) processing facilities at Rosita and Kingsville Dome, both of which are currently on standby. The combination of Uranium Resources' in-house technical abilities and ISL operations, coupled with Anatolia's advanced project, provides a potential fast-track to uranium production, the companies said.

On completion of the merger, the companies say they will investigate the possibility of relocating the Rosita processing plant to Temrezli. This, they said, would greatly reduce the up-front capital costs of the Turkish project, where Anatolia had planned to construct a 1.2 million pounds U3O8 (462 tU) per year central processing plant. The companies said that up to $8 million could be saved by reusing the Rosita plant at Temrezli, while a further $3 million could be saved by making use of Uranium Resources' in-house design expertise.

Initial production at Rosita commenced in 1990, continuing until July 1999 when it was suspended due to unfavourable market conditions. The 800,000 pounds U3O8 per year (308 tU) plant also operated briefly in 2008.

Anatolia CEO Paul Cronin said the Rosita plant, which underwent major upgrades before going to be put on standby in 2008, would bring the added benefit of being designed and constructed with the ability to scale up production to accommodate potential future production from satellite operations. "The merger with Uranium Resources provides an excellent solution to Anatolia's current objectives to advance Temrezli into production as quickly and efficiently as possible, and brings with it the possibility of greatly reducing the upfront capital costs if we can successfully relocate and utilise Uranium Resources' Rosita … as currently expected", he said.

The merger will require approval from shareholders, but major shareholders representing 25.6 % of Anatolia and 23.5% of Uranium Resources have already expressed their support. Current Anatolia shareholders are expected to own about 40.6% of the merged company, with current Uranium Resources shareholders owning 59.4%. It would remain headquartered in Colorado, USA with current Uranium Resources CEO Christopher Jones remaining as president and CEO of the company. The merged company would be listed on the NASDAQ stock market but is also proposing a secondary listing on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, the transaction is expected to close by the end of September.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News