Proposed rule change offered no new protection for the environment
CENTENNIAL, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Westwater Resources, Inc. (“Westwater,” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: WWR), an energy materials development company, is pleased to report that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has withdrawn a rule change proposed in 2017 for groundwater restoration that afforded no new protection for the environment, but only promised to raise costs for the uranium industry if enacted.
Westwater Resources is nearing the completion of reclamation at two sites, and this EPA action is an important affirmation that ongoing work to reclaim future operations will not be impacted by poorly conceived rules that offer no positive impact on groundwater quality and only succeed in increasing the costs of restoration. Westwater remains committed to the safety of the environment and the public at our operations, and compliance with sensible and effective rules are key to this promise.
On Friday, October 19, 2018, the EPA said that its existing rules (for groundwater restoration) were sufficient for the protection of public health and safety from radiological and non-radiological hazards associated with uranium and thorium ore processing.
EPA's acting administrator Andrew Wheeler cast the proposed rule change as "unnecessary and punishing" on uranium producers.
"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has regulated in-situ uranium recovery for nearly 40 years. The agency has never found an instance of ground water contamination that would be addressed by this rule," Wheeler said in a statement.
The rule "failed to articulate a risk that justified the rulemaking, ignored the need for a realistic cost-benefit analysis, and underestimated compliance costs and impacts to small businesses," National Mining Association President Hal Quinn said.
Westwater Resources thanks the National Mining Association for their able leadership in the effort to achieve this action.
About Westwater Resources
Westwater 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 Mine located across 41,900 acres (~17,000 hectares) in east-central Alabama. In addition, the Company maintains lithium mineral properties in three prospective lithium brine basins in Nevada and Utah. Westwater’s uranium projects are located in Texas and New Mexico. In Texas, the Company has two licensed and currently idled uranium processing facilities and approximately 11,000 acres (~4,400 hectares) of prospective in-situ recovery uranium projects. In New Mexico, the Company controls mineral rights encompassing approximately 188,700 acres (~76,000 hectares) in the prolific Grants Mineral Belt, which is one of the largest concentrations of sandstone-hosted uranium deposits in the world. Incorporated in 1977 as Uranium Resources, Inc., Westwater also owns an extensive uranium information database of historic drill hole logs, assay certificates, maps and technical reports for the western United States. For more information 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,” 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 statements relating to the future demand for and price of uranium, the Company’s growth, developments at the Company’s projects, and the Company’s liquidity and cash demands, including future capital markets financing and disposition activities, are forward-looking statements. 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 integrate Alabama Graphite Corporation’s business into its own, and the risk that additional analysis of the Coosa Graphite Project may result in revisions to the findings of WWR’s initial optimization study; (b) the Company’s ability to raise additional capital in the future; (c) spot price and long-term contract price of graphite, lithium and uranium; (d) risks associated with our domestic operations; (e) operating conditions at the Company’s projects; (f) government and tribal regulation of the graphite industry, the lithium industry, the uranium industry, and the power industry; (g) world-wide graphite, lithium and uranium supply and demand, including the supply and demand for lithium-based batteries; (h) maintaining sufficient financial assurance in the form of sufficiently collateralized surety instruments; (i) 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 in Alabama, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada; (j) the ability of the Company to enter into and successfully close acquisitions or other material transactions; (k) the results of the Company’s lithium brine exploration activities at the Columbus Basin, Railroad Valley, and Sal Rica projects, and the possibility that future exploration results may be materially less promising than initial exploration result; (I) any graphite, lithium or uranium discoveries not being in high-enough concentration to make it economic to extract the metals; (m) currently pending or new litigation or arbitration; and (n) other factors which are more fully described in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K, 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. The results of the initial optimization study are preliminary in nature and subject to revision following WWR’s further analysis of the Coosa project.