Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) Strives to Return REE Production to United States as Demand Grows
Mar 18th, 2021
Indispensable for production of cell phones, wind turbines and electric vehicles, rare earth elements ("REEs") have rocketed in importance as demand for electronics and EVs continue to surge. In addition, rare earths play an essential role in national security and commercial applications. For cell phones to vibrate or EV motors to provide power, they need powerful magnets, and REEs are critical to the manufacture of these powerful permanent magnets. However, serious supply chain concerns have arisen with REEs, because China has a stranglehold on global supply. This is of particular concern due to the need for REEs by the military. The typical F-35 fighter contains nearly 1,000 pounds of rare earths. The United States used to be a large producer of REEs, but Chinese REE producers gradually drove U.S. mines out of business; China now controls more than 80% of world production and dominates nearly every stage of the global REE supply chain. Reliance on China jeopardizes U.S. national security, and growing demand has EV makers on edge. Initiatives are underway to rectify the imbalance, and Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) (Profile) is leading the effort to tilt the balance back to American shores. UUUU just announced a new rare earth production initiative spanning European and North American critical material supply chains. Already the country’s largest producer of uranium and a leading producer of vanadium (both designated as critical minerals), Energy Fuels has all the necessary technical know-how, licenses, production facilities, production capacity and resources to bring REEs production back to the United States. And this is all happening in 2021, while other initiatives are years away. Energy Fuels’ initiative will produce value-added rare earth products from natural monazite sands, a low-cost byproduct of heavy mineral sand operations that mainly produce zircon and titanium. There are heavy mineral sand operations in the United States, Australia, Africa and elsewhere, and they are all selling their monazite sands into China’s rare earth industry. This new non-Chinese supply chain can’t happen soon enough for automakers, which are rapidly turning to all-electric vehicle production. The world’s most recognized EV company, Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA), has shifted to a magnetic motor using neodymium in its Model 3 Long Range car, which adds to pressure on already strained supplies of a rare earth metals. General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) plans to end production of its fossil-fuel-powered vehicles and exclusively offer electric vehicles by 2035. Ford (NYSE: F) has pledged that all its cars sold in Europe will be electric by 2030 and is adding more EVs to its U.S. lineup. On a similar electric-powered path, Honda Motor Company Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) intends to electrify two-thirds of global automobile unit sales in 2030 and is planning a global electric vehicle platform for larger EVs across select global markets. These automakers represent just the tip of the iceberg for the coming demand for REEs.