As of sometime in November, Azarga Uranium (parent of Powertech Uranium) will be bought out by enCore Energy, a Canadian firm that has its headquarters in Texas. enCore Energy is apparently not to be confused with Encore Energy (two capital E’s), an oil and gas firm. Azarga will become a subsidiary of enCore, which also has a number of other subsidiaries. Blake Steele, currently the President and CEO of Azarga, will become a “Strategic Advisor” to enCore.
The combined company will have uranium claims and/or resources in Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and South Dakota. Azarga also has interests in Kyrgyrzstan, but enCore focuses on the United States, so it’s not clear what will happen with Kyrgyrzstan. enCore owns two formerly operating in situ leach mines in Texas, and it also is working on in situ mining of gold and other metals. The company claims a lot of uranium resources, but as is common for uranium resource estimates, they are just estimates. And they are estimates wrapped in a full page of disclaimers about their accuracy.
enCore’s leadership team has worked on a wide variety of uranium projects at a wide variety of uranium companies – companies that have hundreds of “reportable incidents” and other problems. These have included spills, leaks, failure to report problems, fires, problems with underground disposal wells, mining fluid going beyond the mine boundary and into a domestic well, and falsification of data.
In a 2021 analysis of the nuclear fuel industry and the uranium market, enCore notes that “uranium prices are at levels significantly below the operating costs” of many mines. They also identified five major limitations on future uranium prices. These included shortcomings in reprocessing nuclear material, problems in using thorium as an alternative to uranium, the possibility of proliferation of nuclear weapons material, and the nuclear industry’s inability to create breeder reactors. Sounds a bit like they’re in the wrong industry!
Currently, Azarga’s stock is worth $0.67 per share, and enCore’s stock is worth $1.92 (unclear if these are in US or Canadian dollars). Under the terms of the agreement, Azarga’s shareholders will receive 0.375 shares of enCore for each Azarga share they held. It’s not yet clear if this will be a good deal for Azarga stockholders, but it will probably be the same uranium company song and dance for people who care about the Black Hills. Keep Uranium in the Ground.