The US nuclear regulator has reactivated Uranium Resources Inc's (URI's) licence to mine uranium in New Mexico using in-situ leaching (ISL) technology.
URI said that the Source Materials Licence - originally issued to its Hydro Resources Inc subsidiary in 1998 - has been in "timely renewal status" since 2003. The reactivation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), it said, would allow the company to assume uranium mining operations again.
|Churchrock (Image: URI)
URI, which has resources and active uranium projects in Texas as well as its resources in New Mexico, will now proceed to renew the licence for a standard ten-year term. During the renewal process, URI will be allowed to produce uranium in line with its current licence conditions. This allows for the production of up to one million pounds of uranium (385 tU) per year from Churchrock Section 8 until a successful commercial demonstration of restoration is made, after which mining on other properties can begin and the quantity of production can be increased to 3 million pounds (1154 tU) per year.
The company said that its focus in New Mexico is on the completion of a feasibility study by the end of 2011 to determine the options available for advancing its Churchrock/Crownpoint project. URI says that it already has the necessary licences and permits to allow development of Churchrock Section 8, which it claims has 6.5 million pounds (2500 tU) of in-place mineralized uranium.
The feasibility study and its proposed options will determine the best mining method for the company's various projects in New Mexico, as well as the size, design and capabilities of its Churchrock/Crownpoint ISL wellfield and processing facilities. URI said that construction and production will be dependent upon several factors, including having necessary financial resources in place; the speed of construction activities; availability of capital equipment and a recovery in uranium prices. It plans to be in production in 2013.
Don Ewigleben, president and CEO of URI, commented, "We are the only uranium company in New Mexico that possesses an NRC licence authorizing current or new production and having it reactivated is a significant milestone which allows us to continue to move forward with our target production plans."
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News