April 19, 2010
Source: International Isotopes Inc.
International Isotopes Inc. (INIS) said it has entered into an agreement with Louisiana Energy Services, a unit of URENCO, to provide depleted uranium de-conversion services for LES's URENCO USA facility (formerly the National Enrichment Facility), located in Eunice, NM. URENCO USA is expected to begin commercial enrichment operations this Spring.
The term of this agreement extends for the first five years of INIS's operation of its planned uranium de-conversion facility. The agreement is contingent upon INIS meeting certain performance milestones in the construction and planned start-up of the facility by the end of 2013. Pursuant to the agreement, LES will provide certain minimum volumes of depleted material to INIS for de-conversion with the option to process further material.
INIS has previously announced its plans to construct the first ever uranium de-conversion and fluorine extraction processing facility at a location west of Hobbs, NM, about thirty miles from URENCO USA. This facility will accept depleted uranium hexafluoride from enrichment facilities such as URENCO USA for fee-based de-conversion services. Depleted uranium hexafluoride is a product of uranium enrichment, a process necessary to make uranium useable as reactor fuel. After the depleted uranium hexafluoride is de-converted by INIS into uranium tetrafluoride, the uranium tetrafluoride can be used as the feedstock for INIS's fluorine extraction process (FEP). The FEP is a patented process that can produce high-purity fluoride gas products from the depleted uranium tetrafluoride. These high value products enjoy a robust current market in the world. The Company purchased the patents for the FEP in 2004, and has been operating its FEP gas facility in Idaho since 2006, testing components and analytical processes for the larger New Mexico facility.
This agreement with LES represents one of four potential revenue streams we anticipate will be produced by the INIS facility. In addition to payment for de-conversion services under the LES agreement and from other potential enrichment facilities, INIS intends to sell anhydrous hydrofluoric acid and valuable industrial fluoride gasses that are each extracted during the de-conversion and FEP processes, respectively. Those gasses can be used to make important products such as silicon for solar cells and computer chips. The agreement with LES also calls for INIS to provide some related ancillary for-fee services, such as uranium hexafluoride cylinder cleaning, inspection, and re-testing.
During 2009, INIS made significant progress on the project, including completion of the conceptual design, signing an agreement with the New Mexico Environment Department, and submittal of the license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The NRC accepted that license application for formal review in 2010.