US firm in A$375m swoop for Base Resources’ Toliara

US-based uranium and critical minerals producer Energy Fuels is making an A$375m takeover bid for ASX-listed Base Resources which owns the Kwale heavy mineral sands mine in Kenya and is looking to develop the Toliara heavy mineral sands project in Madagascar.

The bid is at a 188% premium to Base Resources closing price on the ASX of A$0.105 on April 19 and is being recommended by the Base Resources board with all directors owning shares indicating they will vote in favour.

According to UK brokers SP Angel the deal highlights the potential value of critical minerals “in the ground” and their assessment is that “more merger and acquisition is likely to follow in a sector which has been hard hit by investors reducing risk through the sale of small cap equities.”

SP Angel pointed out that the Toliara project is not yet permitted but “Energy Fuels are prepared to discount the risk and press ahead with the permitting programme.

The Toliara project hosts a large, high grade ilmenite and zircon orebody which also contains monazite. According to SP Angel monazite contains cerium, lanthanum, neodymium and thorium “making it an important source of critical minerals”.

The monazite will be processed at Energy Fuel’s operating White Mesa mill in Utah in the United States. Energy Fuels is the largest producer of uranium in the United States and the White Mesa Mill is the only mill in North America with the capabilities of extracting rare earth elements from monazite feed to produced high-purity, advanced rare earth element products.

According to Base Metals MD Tim Carstens, “the Base Resources’ proven leadership team will be retained and will continue to oversee the development and operation of the Toliara project and the completion of operations and closure of Kwale Operations.

“The combined group will have the financial and technical ability to not only build Toliara into one of the best critical mineral projects in the world but also to develop an integrated value chain for the rare earth elements that are essential to the global energy transition.

He added the deal provides an enhanced opportunity to secure strategic, low-cost United States government funding support for the development of the Toliara project as well as the Phase 2 and 3 expansions of rare earth oxide production at the White Mesa mill.