In November 2016, an agreement between the US Department of Energy (DOE) and SILEX licensee, GLE was signed for the sale and purchase of depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6).  The agreement, which facilitates the sale of approximately 300,000 MTU of ‘high assay’ DUF6 to GLE, follows the DOE’s selection in 2013 of GLE’s proposal to construct a SILEX laser enrichment facility in Paducah, Kentucky, to re-enrich the tails inventories.

The Paducah commercial plant opportunity continues to be viewed as an ideal path to market for the SILEX technology.  The opportunity would allow for the initial commercial deployment of the technology on a smaller scale and at a lower cost, representing a lower risk path to market for investors and other stakeholders.

Subject to timely completion of the technology commercialisation program, prevailing market conditions and receipt of required regulatory approvals, realization of GLE’s proposed Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility (PLEF) would see the construction and operation of the world’s first commercial laser enrichment facility, with the anticipated timing for the construction of the PLEF in the early 2020’s. GLE would finance, construct, own and operate the PLEF adjacent to the existing DOE site. Silex and GLE are also investigating the possibility of utilising a US government loan guarantee facility to support the financing of the project. The PLEF would become a commercial uranium enrichment production facility under a US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license. 

Re-enrichment of the 300,000 metric  tons of high assay tails inventories at PLEF would occur over a period of at least 40 years, producing in the order of 100,000 tons of natural grade uranium, with the balance (low assay tails) being returned to the DOE for disposition. The natural grade uranium produced at the PLEF would be sold into the expanding global uranium market.

The PLEF production rate and subsequent sale of uranium into the market is likely to be regulated by the US government at around 2,000 metric tons of uranium per year (equivalent to a mine producing around 5 million pounds of uranium oxide), this would rank as a large ‘Tier 1’ uranium mine by today’s standards.

       Paducah Enrichment Plant Site

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