Westwater Resources, Inc. (NASDAQ: WWR), an energy materials development company, today provided an update on progress at its pilot plant operations at Dorfner Anzaplan’s facilities near Amberg, Germany, as well as at facilities in Frankfort, Germany, Chicago, Illinois, and Buffalo, New York. This combined effort is expected to produce a total of more than 10 metric tonnes of three trademarked Westwater battery-grade graphite products: ULTRA-PMG™, ULTRA-CSPG™ and ULTRA-DEXDG™, which were previously produced at a bench scale.
The Westwater pilot plant operations are being conducted to inform and enhance design work for the full-scale production facility, and to produce products for testing by potential customers. On October 9, 2020, the Company announced it had taken delivery of 30 metric tonnes of natural flake graphite concentrate at Dorfner Anzaplan’s facility. The concentrate was purchased under the Company’s long-term graphite supply agreement.
“I am extremely pleased with our team’s performance in all aspects of our pilot plant operations,” said Chris Jones, CEO of Westwater Resources. “Our team has worked diligently to design the pilot plant that will leverage Westwater’s unique battery graphite process and deliver products suitable for customer testing. We expect that the delivery of product for customer testing and the design of a full production-scale facility will be opportunities for Westwater to build on its recent success and further enhance shareholder value.”
“Core to our pilot plant program is our measurement of all inputs, such as energy and reagents, as well as all outputs, to ensure these high-performance battery-grade graphite products are manufactured in a manner that does not cause harm to our employees, to our communities and to the environment,” Jones continued. “We will use these measurements in our Bankable Feasibility Study, which we expect to complete by mid-2021. The feasibility study will include plans for the final design of the commercial production facility and will be the basis for the construction of the facility from mid-2021 through 2022. We expect to commission the commercial plant in the fourth quarter of 2022.”
The Pilot Plant Progress
Four processes (reviewed below) will be demonstrated through the operation of the pilot plant. These environmentally sound processes, when properly integrated, will produce battery-grade graphite for the growing EV (Electric Vehicle) and other battery markets. Graphite is essential to battery construction, and there are no domestic US sources for this important material.
Purification is the first step in processing battery-grade graphite. Our proprietary process is the subject of an application for a patent with the US Patent Office. In early December 2020, we anticipate that we will have finished the first stage of purification for 8 metric tonnes of battery-grade graphite. We expect that the remaining stages will be finished in January 2021, producing a total of 15 metric tonnes of purified material for delivery to the remaining steps in the process. Our engineering partner, Dorfner Anzaplan, is supervising the purification effort utilizing experts at its facility near Hirshau, Germany, and contracted facilities elsewhere in Germany. As well, high temperature processes are being tested in upstate New York utilizing an experienced design team for inclusion in our Bankable Feasibility Study, set to be complete at mid-year 2021.
Purified Micronized Graphite (PMG) production is scheduled for late December at the Netzsch Group’s facilities in Frankfort, Germany, under the supervision of experts at Dorfner Anzaplan. This part of our process involves sizing and sorting into four size ranges from 5 to 45 microns. Approximately 5 metric tonnes of finished PMG is expected to be produced by the end of January for internal performance testing and, once proven to perform, will be available for customer performance testing and qualification.
Spheronized Purified Graphite (SPG) production is scheduled to be complete in January 2021 also at the Netzsch Group’s facilities in Frankfort, Germany, under the supervision of experts at Dorfner Anzaplan. This part of our process involves rounding the natural graphite flakes into small sphereoids and sorting them into three size ranges from 10 to 35 microns. Approximately 3.5 metric tonnes of finished SPG is expected to be produced for coating and internal performance testing. This Coated Spheronized Purified Graphite (CSPG), once proven to perform, will be available for customer performance testing and qualification.
Delaminated Expanded Graphite (DEXDG) is our high-performance development product for all types of batteries. It is used as a conductivity enhancer. We expect to make approximately 2 metric tonnes in various sizes by the end of January utilizing an expert lab in the United States. We have successfully made DEXDG using processes that will be tested at the pilot scale level. We expect 1 metric ton of DEXDG to be produced by the end of January 2021. Once performance testing is complete on the pilot plant DEXDG product, we will be in a position to send samples to prospective customers.
The Westwater Battery Graphite Process
The important distinguishing characteristics of the Westwater Battery Graphite Process are:
- Our process produces three battery-grade graphite materials, broadening our markets to all types of batteries, rather than relying upon a single battery product line to provide economics.
- Our process does not use harmful hydrofluoric acid like our Chinese competitors.
- Off-spec materials generated by our Coated Spherical Graphite process will be utilized to bolster our Purified Micronized Graphite production.
About Westwater Resources
Westwater Resources (NASDAQ: WWR) is focused on developing energy-related materials. The Company’s battery-materials projects include 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. Pilot plant operations are expected to produce ULTRA-PMG™, ULTRA-DEXDG™ and ULTRA-CSPG™ in quantities that facilitate qualification testing at potential customers. For more information, please visit www.westwaterresources.net.
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. All statements addressing events or developments that WWR expects or anticipates will occur in the future, including but not limited to the commencement of operations at the Company’s proposed pilot plant facilities, including the timing and quantity of battery graphite products to be produced from the graphite concentrate delivered to the Company; the timing and contents of a Bankable Feasibility Study; the Company’s anticipated intellectual property rights, future production of battery-grade graphite products, future financing activities and financial resources, and activities involving the Coosa Graphite Project and the Coosa Graphite Deposit. Because they are forward-looking, they should be evaluated in light of important risk factors and uncertainties. These risk factors and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, (a) the Company’s ability to successfully construct and operate a pilot plant capable of producing battery-grade materials in quantities and on schedules consistent with the Coosa Graphite Project business plan; (b) the Company’s ability to raise additional capital in the future including the ability to utilize existing financing facilities; (c) spot price and long-term contract price of graphite and vanadium; (d) risks associated with our operations and the operations of our partners such as Dorfner Anzaplan, including the impact of COVID-19 and its potential impacts to the capital markets; (e) operating conditions at the Company’s projects; (f) government and tribal regulation of the graphite industry and the vanadium industry; (g) world-wide graphite and vanadium supply and demand, including the supply and demand for energy storage batteries; (h) unanticipated geological, processing, regulatory and legal or other problems the Company may encounter in the jurisdictions where the Company operates or intends to operate, including but not limited to Alabama; (i) the ability of the Company to enter into and successfully close acquisitions or other material transactions, including the proposed transaction to sell uranium assets in Texas and New Mexico to enCore Energy; (j) any graphite or vanadium discoveries not being in high-enough concentration to make it economic to extract the minerals; (k) currently pending or new litigation or arbitration; and (l) other factors which are more fully described in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K, subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize or should any of the Company’s underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those currently anticipated. In addition, undue reliance should not be placed on the Company’s forward-looking statements. 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.
Christopher M. Jones, President & CEO
Jeff Vigil, VP Finance & CFO