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Westwater Resources Announces 2023 Business and Financial Updates

Westwater Resources Announces 2023 Business and Financial Updates

FirstContract Executed to Supply Natural Purified Graphite Anode Material to a Leading Manufacturer of EV Batteries

Increase in Anticipated Annual Phase I CSPG Production to 12,500 MT While Maintaining Existing Budget

Over $119 Million Invested in Kellyton Graphite Plant Construction

Westwater Resources, Inc. (NYSE American: WWR), an energy technology and battery-grade natural graphite development company (“Westwater” or the “Company”), is pleased to announce its results for the year ended December 31, 2023, and to provide business and financial updates.

2023 a Year of Progress

During 2023, Westwater achieved critical milestones and achievements related to its planned natural graphite business, notably:

  • In May 2023, Westwater announced the execution of a joint development agreement (“JDA”) with SK On Co, Ltd. (“SK On”).
  • On February 5, 2024, Westwater announced the execution of its first off-take agreement with SK On for Coated Spherical Purified Graphite (“CSPG”).
  • As a result of the completion of a debottlenecking study, Westwater has increased its anticipated Phase I production of CSPG to 12,500 mt per year while maintaining the Phase I construction budget of the Kellyton Graphite Plant at $271 million.
  • Continued Phase I construction at the Kellyton Graphite Plant deploying approximately $119.2 million since inception of the project.
  • In December 2023, Westwater announced the completion of its Initial Assessment with an Economic Analysis related to its Coosa Graphite Deposit, and publication of the S-K 1300 Technical Report Summary (“TRS”) disclosing mineral resources, which indicates an estimated pre-tax NPV of $229 million, estimated pre-tax internal rate of return of 26.7%, and estimated free cash flow of $714 million over the 20+ year mine life.

“We believe 2023 was a year of significant progress across our graphite business, which was the result of tremendous hard work by the Westwater team,” said Terence J. Cryan, Westwater’s Executive Chairman. “We are especially excited about our first off-take agreement with a major Tier 1 battery manufacturer, the increase in anticipated Phase I production while staying on budget, and the positive anticipated economic results from our initial assessment of the Coosa Graphite Deposit.”

“Westwater is the only U.S.-based natural graphite company under construction on a processing facility, that has a multi-year off-take agreement for CSPG, and that has a graphite deposit in the same state as its future processing plant,” said Frank Bakker, Westwater’s President and CEO. “The accomplishments of the Westwater team were not only significant for 2023, but I believe positions Westwater well for 2024.”

Recent Government Regulation of Graphite Products

China and the United States have imposed tariffs and export controls on critical minerals, including graphite, indicating the potential for further trade barriers between China and the U.S. Effective December 1, 2023, China began requiring government approval for exports of two types of graphite products, including high-purity, high-hardness and high-intensity synthetic graphite material and natural flake graphite and its products. Westwater believes these export restrictions continue to highlight the supply-chain risk for the U.S. and other countries related to natural graphite products.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury (the “Treasury Department”) has published guidance on key requirements for federal clean vehicle tax credits established by the Inflation Reduction Act (“IRA”); most significantly, the Treasury Department proposed new regulations to clarify the application of Foreign Entity of Concern (“FEOC”) credit eligibility exclusions. The U.S. Department of Energy simultaneously released companion interpretive regulations regarding the scope and application of FEOC-related restrictions. Most importantly, both sets of guidance identified the People’s Republic of China as an FEOC. These regulations are important because, starting in 2025, any vehicle whose batteries contain critical minerals – including graphite – that were extracted or processed in any way, and to any degree, by an FEOC – including China – will be ruled ineligible for the Clean Vehicle Tax credit of $7,500 under section 30D of the Internal Revenue Code. As a result, an FEOC must be excluded from a vehicle battery’s supply chain in order for the vehicle to be eligible for the tax credit. Because Westwater is not an FEOC and intends to produce battery-grade graphite for lithium-ion batteries to be used in electric vehicles in the United States, management believes its future production of battery-graphite products will meet the domestic content requirements of the IRA, which we anticipate will provide indirect future benefit to the Company.

Continuing Customer Engagement

As previously announced, Westwater executed its first off-take agreement for the supply of CSPG from its Kellyton Graphite Plant to SK On battery plants located within the U.S., with forecasted volumes ramping to 10,000 mt in the final year of the agreement.

Additionally, Westwater continues to engage with other potential customers by providing samples of CSPG produced by the Company for testing and evaluation, hosting site visits at its Kellyton Graphite Plant, and having technical product development and commercial discussions.

“Customer interest and market demand for domestic CSPG remains strong, and customer interest in Westwater is due to the combination of our SK On off-take agreement, FEOC-related guidance requiring EV tax credit eligible vehicles to use of IRA-compliant graphite by 2025, and new Chinese export restrictions on graphite that have reduced stability of supply,” said Jon Jacobs, Westwater’s Chief Commercial Officer. “We believe customer interest is accelerating in Westwater as a stable, U.S.-based supplier of natural graphite.”

Construction Financing Update

Westwater continues its efforts to secure debt financing to fund the balance of the estimated capital requirements for completion of construction of Phase I of the Kellyton Graphite Plant. “We are continuing to engage with third parties interested in funding our project, and those parties have indicated they are pleased to see we have our first off-take agreement in place,” said Steve Cates, Westwater’s Chief Financial Officer and SVP – Finance. “With positive interest from additional customers and lenders, Westwater remains focused on executing additional off-take sales agreements and completing the project debt financing necessary to complete Phase I at the Kellyton Graphite Plant.”

As of December 31, 2023, Westwater had a cash balance of $10.9 million and has incurred approximately $119.2 million, inclusive of liabilities, since beginning construction of Phase I of the Kellyton Graphite Plant.

Financial Summary for The Year Ended December 31, 2023

($ in thousands, Except Share and Per Share Amounts)

2023

2022

Variance

Net Cash Used in Operations

$(11,430)

$(13,176)

(13%)

Net Cash Used in Investing Activities

$(58,295)

$(52,790)

10%

Net Cash Provided by Financing Activities

$5,381

$25,869

(79%)

Product Development Expenses

$(2,935)

$(1,145)

156%

General and Administrative Expenses

$(9,780)

$(9,902)

(1%)

Net Loss

$(7,751)

$(11,121)

(30%)

Net Loss Per Share

$(0.15)

$(0.25)

(40%)

Avg. Weighted Shares Outstanding

52,037,463

44,909,500

16%

  • Net cash used in operations decreased $1.7 million in 2023 compared to 2022 primarily due to receiving $3.1 million of cash in the fourth quarter related to the settlement of the Company’s arbitration against the Republic of Turkey; partially offset by $1.8 million higher product development expenses during 2023 as discussed below.
  • Net cash used in investing activities increased $5.5 million during 2023 compared to 2022. The increase in investing cash outflows is due to continued construction of Phase I of the Kellyton Graphite Plant.
  • Net cash provided by financing activities decreased $20.5 million during 2023, compared to 2022, due to lower sales of shares under our equity financing facilities.
  • Product development expenses for 2023 increased by $1.8 million compared to 2022 primarily due to continued product development, product optimization, and additional sample production for customer evaluation.
  • General and administrative expenses decreased $0.1 million during 2023 compared to 2022, due to a reduction in personnel and overhead costs related to stock award forfeitures and lower hiring fees and relocations costs; offset partially by severance charges related to executive management changes announced in the first quarter of 2023.
  • Consolidated net loss was $7.8 million, or $0.15 per share, for 2023 compared to a consolidated net loss of $11.1 million, or $0.25 per share, in 2022. The decrease in the Company’s net loss from continuing operations was due primarily to the $3.1 million cash settlement from the Republic of Turkey, a $1.2 million write-off of accrued uranium royalties, a $0.3 million increase in interest income on our investment account, and $0.5 million less exploration expenses; offset partially by $1.8 million higher product development expenses associated with additional sample production.
  • Cash and working capital as of December 31, 2023, were $10.9 million and $3.8 million, respectively, compared to $75.2 million and $51.0 million as of December 31, 2022. The decrease in cash was primarily due to capital expenditures of $58.3 million and cash used in operations of $11.4 million; partially offset by cash provided from financing activities. The decrease in working capital was primarily due to the net cash spend during 2023; partially offset by the lower current liabilities related to Phase I construction costs as of December 31, 2023, compared to December 31, 2022.

Conference Call

Management will host a conference call to provide a business update to investors on March 20, 2024, at 11:00 AM EDT.

Live Conference Call

Conference Call Replay

  • 1-855-669-9658 (USA and Canada)
  • 1-412-317-0088 (International)
  • Access Code: 0646

Going Concern Audit Opinion

Pursuant to Section 610(b) of the NYSE American Company Guide, the Company notes that the audit opinion provided by the Company's independent public accounting firm relating to the Company's audited consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2023, included a going concern qualification. The financial statements with that opinion were included in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2023, which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 19, 2024.

About Westwater Resources, Inc.

Westwater Resources, Inc. (NYSE American: WWR), an energy technology company, is focused on developing battery-grade natural graphite. The Company’s primary project is the Kellyton Graphite Plant that is under construction in east-central Alabama. In addition, the Company’s Coosa Graphite Deposit is the most advanced natural flake graphite deposit in the contiguous United States and located across 41,965 acres (~17,000 hectares) in Coosa County, Alabama. For more information, visit www.westwaterresources.net.

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

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," “planned,” “intends,” "projects," "anticipates," "believes," "could," “scheduled,” “targets” and other similar words. Forward-looking statements include, among other things, statements concerning: the off-take agreement with SK On; Westwater’s future sales of CSPG products to SK On, including the amounts, timing, and types of products included within those sales; possible off-take agreements with other customers; potential debt financing arrangements; the anticipated annual production from Phase I of Kellyton Graphite Plan; the positive anticipated economic results from the Initial Assessment with Economic Analysis related to its Coosa Graphite Deposit; and the construction and operation of the Kellyton Graphite Plant, the Company’s Coosa Graphite Deposit and its PEA, and the costs, schedules, production and economic projections associated with them. The Company cautions that there are factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information that has been provided. The reader is cautioned not to put undue reliance on this forward-looking information, which is not a guarantee of future performance and is subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside the control of the Company; accordingly, there can be no assurance that such suggested results will be realized. The following factors, in addition to those discussed in Westwater’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2023, and subsequent securities filings, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information: (a) the spot price and long‑term contract price of graphite (both flake graphite feedstock and purified graphite products) and vanadium, and the world-wide supply and demand of graphite and vanadium; (b) the effects, extent and timing of the entry additional competition in the markets in which we operate; (c) our ability to obtain contracts or other agreements with customers; (d) available sources and transportation of graphite feedstock; (e) the ability to control costs and avoid cost and schedule overruns during the development, construction and operation of the Kellyton Graphite Plant; (f) the ability to construct and operate the Kellyton Graphite Plant in accordance with the requirements of permits and licenses and the requirements of tax credits and other incentives; (g) effects of inflation, including labor shortages and supply chain disruptions; (h) rising interest rates and the associated impact on the availability and cost of financing sources; (i) the availability and supply of equipment and materials needed to construct the Kellyton Graphite Plant; (j) stock price volatility; (k) government regulation of the mining and manufacturing industries in the United States; (l) unanticipated geological, processing, regulatory and legal or other problems we may encounter; (m) the results of our exploration activities at the Coosa Graphite Deposit, and the possibility that future exploration results may be materially less promising than initial exploration results; (n) any graphite or vanadium discoveries at the Coosa Graphite Deposit not being in high enough concentration to make it economic to extract the minerals; (o) our ability to finance growth plans; (p) our ability to obtain and maintain rights of ownership or access to our mining properties; (q) currently pending or new litigation or arbitration; (r) our ability to maintain and timely receive mining, manufacturing, and other permits from regulatory agencies; and (s) other factors which are more fully described in our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and other filings with the SEC.

Westwater Resources, Inc.
Email: Info@WestwaterResources.net

Investor Relations
Email: Investorrelations@westwaterresources.net

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