WWR stock surged again in after-hours trading, a day after the company applauded a new Executive Order from President Trump.
On October 5, 2020, Westwater Resources, Inc. (NASDAQ: WWR), an energy materials development company, applauded the President’s Executive Order signed on September 30, 2020, that addresses the threat to the U.S. domestic supply chain from reliance on critical minerals from foreign adversaries. The critical minerals referred to in the Order were previously identified by the Department of the Interior in May 2018, and include both natural graphite and vanadium.
The President’s declaration that the United States’ heavy reliance on foreign nations for critical minerals is a national emergency highlights the importance of Westwater’s plans to develop the Coosa Graphite Deposit in east-central Alabama. Westwater’s business plan for the Coosa Graphite Project over the next two and a half years is to develop a U.S. domestic supply for natural graphite for use in all types of batteries in the United States. During recent exploration activities along the Roscoe Ridge at the mine site, Westwater has also discovered widespread and significant levels of vanadium mineralization.
The U.S. is 100% dependent on imports for graphite, which is the primary anode material in lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones, laptops, and electric vehicles, and stores power from intermittent renewable energy sources. Graphite was specifically named as one of the critical minerals in which the U.S. is heavily dependent on China for its supply. Also, vanadium is an essential component in the manufacture of high-strength steel, is used as a catalyst in chemical manufacturing, and is also used as a component in the manufacturing of some ceramic, glass, and pigment products. The U.S. imports virtually all of its industrial vanadium requirements from mines located in South Africa, China, and Russia.
Christopher M. Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer of Westwater, said, “The President’s Executive Order opens up new avenues for financing and permitting our Coosa Graphite Project – this is good news for Westwater Resources and the United States.”
In the Order the President says, “a strong America cannot be dependent on imports from foreign adversaries for the critical minerals that are increasingly necessary to maintain our economic and military strength in the 21st century.” The President said the heavy dependence on imports for critical minerals makes the U.S. vulnerable to adverse foreign government action, natural disaster, or other supply disruptions.
“I therefore determine that our nation’s undue reliance on critical minerals, in processed or unprocessed form, from foreign adversaries constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat, which has its source in substantial part outside the United States, to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat,” Trump penned in the Executive Order.
Further details on Trump’s critical mineral Executive Order can be read at https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-addressing-threat-domestic-supply-chain-reliance-critical-minerals-foreign-adversaries.
Westwater is uniquely positioned to benefit from the action the U.S. government is taking to ensure that America and its technology manufacturers can rely on a safe and secure source of graphite to power our next generation of power and technology needs and possibly to meet needs for vanadium as well. The action by the President orders the Office of Science and Technology, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Energy, and the Secretary of the Interior to provide guidance to clarify which minerals and projects are eligible for government support, which can include loans or grants, under Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Furthermore, these agencies are directed along with the Secretary of Commerce, the Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Secretary of the Army, to use all available authorities to accelerate the issuance of permits in connection with expanding and protecting the U.S. domestic supply chain for minerals such as graphite.
Westwater is evaluating the Order and how to best approach the relevant agencies in the U.S. Government to emphasize the importance of battery graphite, its importance to the nation’s security, and how the Coosa Graphite Project in Alabama fits into the enactment of critical minerals policy.