WESTERN URANIUM & VANADIUM CORP.
Management's Discussion and Analysis
For the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020
(Stated in USD)
Dated April 18, 2022
Western Uranium & Vanadium Corp. (the "Company" or "Western", formerly Western Uranium Corporation) is the issuer. This Management's Discussion and Analysis ("MD&A") provides a review of corporate developments, results of operations and financial position for the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020. The MD&A is intended to supplement the consolidated financial statements and notes thereto (the "Statements") of Western for the above-noted periods.
All amounts included in the MD&A are presented in US dollars, unless otherwise specified. This report is dated April 18, 2022, and the Company's filings can be reviewed on the SEDAR website at www.sedar.com and on the CSE website at www.cnsx.ca
This MD&A contains forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements can often be identified by the use of words such as "plans", "expects" or "does not expect", "is expected", "estimates", "intends", "anticipates" or "does not anticipate", or "believes", or variations of such words and phrases or state that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will" be taken, occur or be achieved. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Actual results and developments are likely to differ, and may differ materially, from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements contained in this MD&A. Such forward-looking statements are based on a number of assumptions which may prove to be incorrect, including, but not limited to, the ability of the Company to obtain necessary financing, the economy generally, anticipated and unanticipated costs and other risks and uncertainties referred to elsewhere in this MD&A. Such statements could also be materially affected by environmental regulation, taxation policies, competition, the lack of available and qualified personnel or management, stock market volatility and the ability to access sufficient capital from internal or external sources. Actual results, performance or achievement could differ materially from those expressed herein. While the Company anticipates that subsequent events and developments may cause its views to change, the Company specifically disclaims any obligation to update these forward-looking statements, except as required by applicable law. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon Western Uranium & Vanadium Corp., as representing the Company's views as of any date subsequent to the date of this MD&A. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause actions, events or results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. Readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. The factors identified above are not intended to represent a complete list of the factors that could affect the Company. Additional factors are noted in this MD&A under "Risk Factors".
ABOUT THE COMPANY
Western Uranium & Vanadium Corp. ("Western" or the "Company", formerly Western Uranium Corporation) was incorporated in December 2006 under the Ontario Business Corporations Act. On November 20, 2014, the Company completed a listing process on the Canadian Securities Exchange ("CSE"). As part of that process, the Company acquired 100% of the members' interests of Pinon Ridge Mining LLC ("PRM"), a Delaware limited liability company. The transaction constituted a reverse takeover ("RTO") of Western by PRM. Subsequent to obtaining appropriate shareholder approvals, the Company reconstituted its Board of Directors and senior management team. Effective September 16, 2015, Western completed its acquisition of Black Range Minerals Limited ("Black Range").
The Company's registered office is located at 330 Bay Street, Suite 1400, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5H 2S8 and its common shares are listed on the CSE under the symbol "WUC." On April 22, 2016, the Company's common
Page 1 of 21
shares began trading on the OTC Pink Open Market, and on May 23, 2016, the Company's common shares were approved for trading on the OTCQX Best Market. Its principal business activity is the acquisition and development of uranium and vanadium resource properties in the states of Utah and Colorado in the United States of America ("United States").
On June 28, 2016, the Company's registration statement became effective and Western became a United States reporting issuer. Thereafter, the Company was approved for Depository Trust Company eligibility through the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation, which facilitates electronic book-entry delivery, settlement and depository services for shares in the United States.
On June 29, 2018, the shareholders of the Company approved the name change of the Company from "Western Uranium Corporation" to "Western Uranium & Vanadium Corp." The name change became effective in Ontario, Canada on October 1, 2018; thereafter on October 4, 2018 Western's shares started trading under the new name on the CSE and OTCQX and the Company announced the name change by news release.
The Company has incurred continuing losses from its operations and as of December 31, 2021, the Company had an accumulated deficit of $13,161,496 and working capital of $4,492,169.
Since inception, the Company has met its liquidity requirements principally through the issuance of notes and the sale of its common shares. On February 16, 2021, the Company closed on a non-brokered private placement of 3,250,000 units at a price of CAD $0.80 per unit. The aggregate gross proceeds raised in the private placement amounted to CAD $2,600,000 (USD $1,950,509 in net proceeds). On March 1, 2021, the Company closed on a non-brokered private placement of 3,125,000 units at a price of CAD $0.80 per unit. The aggregate gross proceeds raised in the private placement amounted to CAD $2,500,000 (USD $1,918,797 in net proceeds). On December 17, 2021, the Company closed on a non-brokered private placement of 372,966 units at a price of CAD $1.60 per unit. The aggregate gross proceeds raised in the private placement amounted to CAD $596,746 (USD $434,973 in net proceeds). During the year ended December 31, 2021, the Company received $2,004,864 in proceeds from the exercise of warrants.
The Company's ability to continue its operations and to pay its obligations when they become due is contingent upon the Company obtaining additional financing. Management's plans include seeking to procure additional funds through debt and equity financings, to secure regulatory approval to fully utilize its Kinetic Separation and to initiate the processing of ore to generate operating cash flows.
There are no assurances that the Company will be able to raise capital on terms acceptable to the Company or at all, or that cash flows generated from its operations will be sufficient to meet its current operating costs and required debt service. If the Company is unable to obtain sufficient amounts of additional capital, it may be required to reduce the scope of its planned product development, which could harm its financial condition and operating results, or it may not be able to continue to fund its ongoing operations. These conditions raise substantial doubt about the Company's ability to continue as a going concern to sustain operations for at least one year from the issuance of the accompanying financial statements. The accompanying consolidated financial statements do not include any adjustments that might result from the outcome of these uncertainties.
HIGHLIGHTS AND SIGNIFICANT EVENTS
Bullen Property (Weld County)
The Bullen Property is an oil and gas property located in Weld County Colorado. The Company acquired this non-core property in 2015 in the Black Range Minerals Limited acquisition, and Black Range purchased the property in 2008 for its Keota Uranium Project.
In 2017, the Company signed a three year oil and gas lease which in 2020 was extended for an additional three year term or until the end of continuous operations. The consideration was in the form of upfront bonus payments and backend 3/16th production royalty payment. Additional right-of-way easement agreements were signed which allowed for the development of a pipeline. The lease agreement allows the Company to retain property rights to vanadium, uranium, and other mineral resources.
A 2019 lawsuit was filed in the Weld County District Court over the original Bullen Property deed language which was negotiated before the Company acquired Black Range by prior management and a bank representing the estate of the property owner. The Company settled with the plaintiffs by awarding the estate's beneficiaries a non-participating royalty interest of 1/8th for all hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon substances that are produced and sold from the property.
In early 2020, Bison Oil & Gas traded this lease to Mallard Exploration ("Mallard"), Mallard subsequently filed an application with the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission ("COGCC") to update the permit to create a new pooled unit.
During 2021, the operator advanced through the oil well production stages: drilling was completed in the first quarter, wellfield completion/fracking was completed during the second quarter, drill out was completed in July, and flowback was completed in August. By August 2021, each of the eight (8) Blue Teal Fed wells had commenced oil and gas production. The first royalty payment was made in January 2022 and monthly royalty payments have been received subsequently. These wells continue to rank among the top Colorado producing wells. Due to the success of the first 8 wells, the operator has decided to develop a second set of 8 wells within Western's royalty area during 2022. During the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020 the Company recognized aggregate revenue of $272,142 and $54,620, respectively, under these oil and gas lease arrangements. On January 31, 2022, the Company received $207,552 as payment for royalties recognized during the period August 2021 through December 2021.
Kinetic Separation Licensing
Kinetic Separation Licensing
During 2016, the Company submitted documentation to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment ("CDPHE") for a determination ruling regarding the type of license which may be required for the application of Kinetic Separation at the Sunday Mine Complex within the state of Colorado. During May and June of 2016, CDPHE held four public meetings in several cities in Colorado as part of the process. On July 22, 2016, CDPHE closed the comment period. In connection with this matter, the CDPHE consulted with the NRC. In response, the CDPHE received an advisory opinion, dated October 16, 2016, which did not contain support for the NRC's opinion and with which the Company's regulatory counsel does not agree. NRC's advisory opinion recommended that Kinetic Separation should be regulated as a milling operation but did recognize that there may be exemptions to certain milling regulatory requirements because of the benign nature of the non-uranium bearing sands produced after Kinetic Separation is completed on uranium-bearing ores. On December 1, 2016, the CDPHE issued a determination that the proposed Kinetic Separation operations at the Sunday Mine Complex must be regulated by the CDPHE through a milling license. Beginning in 2017, the Company's regulatory counsel prepared significant documentation in preparation for a prospective submission. On September 13, 2019, the Company's regulatory counsel submitted a white paper to the NRC entitled "Recommendations on the Proper Legal and Policy Interpretation for Using Kinetic Separation Processes at Uranium Mine Sites." On July 24, 2020, the NRC staff responded with a letter in support of the original conclusion. Western's regulatory counsel has proposed alternatives. However, management has decided not to proceed at this time, given its present opportunity set.
Sunday Mine Complex Permitting Status
On February 4, 2020, the Colorado DRMS sent a Notice of Hearing to Declare Termination of Mining Operations related to the status of the mining permits issued by the state of Colorado for the Sunday Mine Complex. At issuewas the application of an unchallenged Colorado Court of Appeals Opinion for a separate mine (Van 4) with very different facts that are retroactively modifying DRMS rules and regulations. The Company maintains that it was timely in meeting existing rules and regulations. The hearing was scheduled to be held during several monthly MLRB Board meetings, but this matter was delayed several times. The permit hearing was held during the MLRB Board monthly meeting on July 22, 2020. At issue was the status of the five existing permits which comprise the Sunday Mine Complex. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the hearing took place utilizing a virtual-only format. The Company prevailed in a 3-to-1 decision which acknowledged that the work completed at the Sunday Mine Complex under DRMS oversight was timely and sufficient for Western to maintain these permits. In a subsequent July 30, 2020 letter, the DRMS notified the Company that the status of the five permits (Sunday, West Sunday, St. Jude, Carnation, and Topaz) had been changed to "Active" status effective June 10, 2019, the original date on which the change of the status was approved. On August 23, 2020, the Company initiated a request for Temporary Cessation status for the Sunday Mine Complex as the mines had not been restarted within a 180-day window due to the direct and indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Accordingly, a permit hearing was scheduled for October 21, 2020 to determine Temporary Cessation status. In a unanimous vote, the MLRB approved Temporary Cessation status for each of the five Sunday Mine Complex permits (Sunday, West Sunday, St. Jude, Carnation, and Topaz). On October 9, 2020, the MLRB issued a board order which finalized the findings of the July 22, 2020 permit hearing. On November 12, 2020, a coalition of environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the MLRB seeking a partial appeal of the July 22, 2020 decision by requesting termination of the Topaz mine permit. On December 15, 2020, the same coalition of environmental groups amended their complaint against the MLRB seeking a partial appeal of the October 21, 2020 decision requesting termination of the Topaz mine permit. The Company has joined with the MLRB in defense of their July 22, 2020 and October 21, 2020 decisions. On May 5, 2021, the Plaintiff in the Topaz Appeal filed an opening brief with the Denver District Court seeking to overturn the July 22, 2020 and October 21, 2020 MLRB permit hearing decisions on the Topaz mine permit. The MLRB and the Company were to respond with an answer brief within 35 days on or before June 9, 2021, but instead sought a settlement. The judicial review process was delayed as extensions were put in place until August 20, 2021. A settlement was not reached and the MLRB and the Company submitted answer briefs on August 20, 2021. The Plaintiff submitted a reply brief on September 10, 2021. On March 1, 2022, the Denver District Court reversed the MLRB's orders regarding the Topaz Mine and remanded the case back to MLRB for further proceedings consistent with its order. The Company and the MRLB have until April 19, 2022 to appeal the Denver District Court's ruling. The Company is also working toward the completion of an updated Topaz mine Plan of Operations which is a separate federal requirement of the BLM for the conduct of mining activities on federal land.
Sunday Mine Complex Project 2021 Restart
The project entailed the development of multiple SMC ore bodies. This year's project involves a shift in the base of operations from the St. Jude Mine (2019) to the Sunday Mine (2021). Underground development began in August following mine ventilation, power upgrades, and increasing explosive capabilities. The first target was the extension of the drift (tunnel) 150 feet to reach the first surface exploration drill hole to access the GMG Ore Body (GMG). Early results were positive as drilling toward the GMG resulted in the location of ore-grade material within thirty feet of the existing mine workings. Notably, only limited exploration drilling has been done in this area due to the mountainous terrain on the surface above. As drifting proceeded, very high-grade ore continued to be intersected through the drift path and on both sides of the drift. As a result, the team shifted from development to mining. During the December 2021 to March 2022 period, over 3,000 tons of high-grade uranium/vanadium ore was mined from the drift. The mining contractor calculated grades based upon on site scintillometer readings.
At the end of March, the mining contractor engaged by Western decided to retire from contract mining operations. As a result of this decision, Western will take over the mining operations and has acquired a full complement of mining equipment. The equipment is being prepared for operations and upgrades to mine ventilation, support buildings and infrastructure are underway. Further mine development and ore production is expected to resume in early summer after upgrades are completed. Western's mining team will be expanded to facilitate mine development and full ore production.
Van 4 Mine Permitting Status
A prior owner of the Van 4 mine had been granted a first Temporary Cessation from reclamation of the mine by the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board ("MLRB") which was set to expire June 23, 2017. Prior to its expiration, PRM formally requested an extension through a second Temporary Cessation. PRM subsequently participated in a public process which culminated in a hearing on July 26, 2017. Prior to the hearing, three non-profit organizations who pursue environmental and conservation objectives filed a brief objecting to the extension. The MLRB boardmembers voted to grant a second five-year Temporary Cessation for the Van 4 mine. Thereafter, the three objecting parties filed a lawsuit on September 18, 2017. The MLRB was named as the defendant and PRM was named as a party to the case due to the Colorado law requirement that any lawsuit filed after a hearing must include all of the parties in the proceeding. The plaintiff organizations are seeking for the court to set aside the board order granting a second five-year Temporary Cessation period to PRM for the Van 4 mine. The Colorado state Attorney General was defending this action in the Denver Colorado District Court. On May 8, 2018, the Denver Colorado District Court ruled in favor, whereby the additional five-year Temporary Cessation period was granted. The Plaintiffs appealed this ruling to the Colorado Court of Appeals, and on July 25, 2019, the ruling was reversed, ruling that the additional five-year Temporary Cessation period should not have been granted.
The MLRB and the Colorado Attorney General advised Western that it will not make an additional appeal of the ruling. Further, the time period for an appeal has passed. The judge has subsequently issued an instruction for the MLRB to issue an order revoking the permit and putting the Van 4 mine into reclamation. On January 22, 2020, the MLRB held a hearing, and on March 2, 2020, the MLRB issued an order vacating the Van 4 Temporary Cessation, revoking the permit, and ordering commencement of final reclamation, which must be completed within five years. The Company commenced reclamation of the Van 4 mine, but progress has been delayed both by COVID-19 restrictions and countywide fire and open flame restrictions. The reclamation cost is fully covered by the reclamation bonds that have been posted with the state of Colorado. Our mining operations team has made significant progress on the reclamation as all surface structures have been disassembled and removed with the exception of the head frame.
Uranium Section 232 Investigation/Nuclear Fuel Working Group Process
An investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 was undertaken by the DoC in 2018 to assess the impact to national security of the importation of the vast majority of uranium utilized by the approximately 100 operative civilian nuclear reactors within the United States. In response to the Section 232 report, the White House disseminated a Presidential Memoranda in July 2019. At that time, President Trump formed the Nuclear Fuel Working Group ("NFWG") to find solutions for reviving and expanding domestic nuclear fuel production and reinvigorating recommendations.
In April 2020, the DoE released the NFWG report entitled "Restoring America's Competitive Nuclear Energy Advantage - A strategy to assure U.S. national security." The report outlines a strategy for the reestablishment of critical capabilities and direct support to the front end of the U.S. domestic nuclear fuel cycle. The NFWG findings and recommendations presented are a positive outcome for U.S. uranium miners; however, the ultimate outcome and timing remains uncertain as the continuing process requires approvals and budget appropriation from Congress and implementation by U.S. government agencies.
This remains an ongoing process where a number of bills were introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House to implement the key provisions of the NFWG report's recommendations. In November 2020, after the U.S. election, the Senate Committee on Appropriations released its funding measures and allocations recommending the creation and funding of the American Uranium Reserve. In October 2020, the DoC extended the Russian Suspension Agreement for an additional 20 years until 2040. Existing categories of quotas on imports of Russian uranium into the U.S. were reduced by a graduated scale, and additional provisions were modified to eliminate loopholes. An extension of this agreement was among the NFWG's recommendations. In further implementation of the report's recommendations, the DoE made multiple investment awards to companies advancing new nuclear technologies. TerraPower and X-energy received awards to build demonstration models of their advanced reactor designs, and NuScale received support to deploy the first U.S. small modular reactor ("SMR") plan comprised of 12 modules at the Idaho National Laboratory. The International Development Finance Corp. signed a letter of intent to finance NuScale's development of 42 SMR modules in South Africa. In an acknowledgement of the future growth potential of new nuclear technologies, the U.S. government has increased its industry support to a level not seen in decades. This is being done to level the playing field versus state-sponsored foreign entities. In December 2020, U.S. Congress passed the "COVID-Relief and Omnibus Spending Bill," which included $75 million for the establishment of a strategic U.S. Uranium Reserve. The Biden-Harris Administration has rolled the 2021 funding into its 2022 fiscal year budget to continue this initiative. The DoE continues to work on establishing the parameters of the program and in August 2021, the DoE put out a Request for Information (RFI) to obtain additional comments related to the establishment of the DoE's Uranium Reserve program. On October 13, 2021, Western submitted a response to the Request for Information: Establishment of the Uranium Reserve Program to the DoE's National Nuclear Security Administration.