Denison Mines has announced the start of an ore-buying program to supplement feed for its White Mesa mill. The Utah mill is the only conventional uranium mill (as opposed to in-situ leach operations) currently operating in the USA, but has been processing materials other than uranium ore for the last two years.
Denison is currently stockpiling ore from its US mining operations to begin processing at the mill in the first quarter of 2008. It anticipates buying about 40,000 tons of ore per year to enable it to maximise the 2000 ton per day capacity of the mill. This is the first ore buying program for White Mesa since 1998. In a company statement, Denison's President and chief operating officer, Ron Hochstein, noted that high uranium prices have led to several uranium mines, including Denison's, reopening in the "four corner states" area of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. White Mesa is the only operating mill in a 500 mile (800 km) radius in the heart of the uranium production district, he noted, adding: "We very much look forward to working with independent miners in the region."
White Mesa has a vanadium recovery circuit and is also licensed to process "alternate feeds" - uranium-bearing materials other than ore. Typically, these include materials from uranium conversion, tantalum and other metal processing, or US government clean-up projects. The milling route enables uranium and other metals to be recovered, sometimes at a much lower recovery cost than from the ore. According to US Energy Information Administration figures, White Mesa has been processing alternate feeds since coming off standby in 2005. It produced 280,000 lb of uranium from such sources in 2006.
Denison Mines is based in Toronto, Canada and has five active mining projects in Canada and the USA, plus exploration projects and interests in Canada, the USA, Mongolia and, through investments, Australia.
US EnergyInformation Administration
WNA's US Nuclear PowerIndustry information paper
WNN: USuranium output rises in 2006