Licence application for new US uranium mill

19 November 2009

Energy Fuels Resources Corp has submitted the application for the final licence it needs to construct its Pinon Ridge uranium/vanadium mill in Colorado.

Pinon Ridge site (Energy Fuels Inc)
The proposed Pinon Ridge mill site (Image: Energy Fuels)
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) received the radioactive materials licence application and environmental report from Energy Fuels on 18 November. The application will undergo a comprehensive technical review process including technical evaluations, a review of the environmental report and two public hearings. Public comments will also be accepted throughout the review process, which Colorado law stipulates must take no more than 14 months. Energy Fuels has previously mentioned the possibility of starting construction of the mill by the second quarter of 2011.
Steve Tarlton, radiation program manager for CDPHE, said the review would consider short- and long-term impacts of the proposed mill, including radiological and non-radiological impacts to water, air and wildlife, as well as economic, social and transportation-related impacts. "Our job is to ensure that the licence, if approved, will protect public health and the environment," he said.
Energy Fuels plans to build the Pinon Ridge mill near Naturita on land that it bought in 2007. The 500 tonnes per day mill would be the first new uranium mill to be built in the USA in over a quarter of a century. Energy Fuels president and CEO George Glasier said he was confident that the "thorough and accurate" licence application would meet all CDPHE's regulations. "In progressing to this final stage of approvals, Energy Fuels is clearly moving forward on its plan to construct the first new uranium mill in the US in more than 25 years," he said.
Energy Fuels Resources Corp is part of Toronto-based Energy Fuels Inc, which has a portfolio of uranium and vanadium properties in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Idaho and New Mexico, as well as Canadian exploration properties in Saskatchewan's Athabasca Basin. The company has been working to refurbish and reopen some of its formerly producing mines, including former uranium-vanadium mines in the Uravan mineral belt in western Colorado. Energy Fuels has near-term uranium projects at Whirlwind and Tenderfoot Mesa in Colorado and also at nearby Energy Queen in Utah. Although permitted to restart, the company placed the Whirlwind project on standby in late 2008 as part of a "capital preservation strategy", although the company said at the time it would be maintained in a state of readiness to ramp up to full production at 30 days' notice.
Powertech queries groundwater rules
Meanwhile, another would-be Colorado uranium producer has queried the legality of proposed state rules on groundwater protection. According to press reports, Powertech USA says that proposed rules on groundwater quality and reclamation forming part of legislation on in-situ leach mining are currently too broad. A specific issue of concern is the proposed requirement for a "baseline" for water quality, defined before mining began, which would become the standard for future reclamation, with no scope to revise the requirements at a later date.

The Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety is due to hold a public meeting on the rules in early December. 

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