New US uranium mine licensed

04 October 2010

The US nuclear regulator has issued an operating licence for Uranium One's Moore Ranch in-situ leach (ISL) uranium mine in Wyoming. It is the first new uranium mine licence issued in the USA since 1998. 


The Moore Ranch facility covers some 2873 hectares in the Powder River Basin region of northern Wyoming. Uranium One said that it expects the project to become a satellite ISL operation, with loaded resins to be transported to its fully permitted Willow Creek plant for further processing into dried U3O8.


Moore Ranch drilling (Uranium One)
Drilling activities at Moore Ranch (Image: Uranium One)


Production of uranium bearing resins from Moore Ranch is expected to begin in 2012, serving as an additional source of feed to the Willow Creek central plant.


Uranium One submitted its application for a licence for the Moore Ranch mine in October 2002. It was the first application for a uranium recovery licence accepted by the NRC in two decades. In a statement the company said: "This is a particularly notable accomplishment since this is the first new licence issued by the NRC in almost 13 years for the development of a new US uranium production facility."


The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) review of the application included an environmental review, as well as a safety evaluation. The review concluded that the proposed facility can operate safely, including management of radiological and chemical hazards, groundwater protection, and eventual clean up and decommissioning. The NRC issued a draft materials licence in June 2010 to build and operate an in-situ uranium recovery facility at the Moore Ranch project.


The Moore Ranch uranium project was extensively explored from the 1970s to the mid-1980s. It contains measured mineral resources totalling approximately 5.9 million pounds of U3O8 contained in 2.95 million tons of ore at an average grade of 0.10% and inferred resources of 89,000 pounds of U3O8 contained in 43,600 tons, at an average grade of 0.102%, certified by Canadian National Instrument 43-101, according to 2006 figures reported by Energy Metals.


Uranium One said that it is also working toward developing additional projects in the Powder River Basin - including Ludeman, Allemand-Ross and Barge - which are also expected to be developed as satellite operations with final processing through the Willow Creek central plant.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News