Energy Fuels clear to continue Canyon mine operations

09 April 2015

The USA's largest conventional uranium producer has won a court battle to continue with mine development and uranium production at the Canyon mine - a permitted high-grade uranium deposit located in northern Arizona.

Energy Fuels announced yesterday that the United States District Court for the District of Arizona has denied a challenge by non-government organizations and a Native American tribe to the company's ability to operate the mine.

The headframe at Canyon (Image: Energy Fuels)

Surface development at the mine, including a headframe, evaporation pond, hoist, environmental controls, and an office/maintenance facility, is in place. To complete the mine, Energy Fuels said it expects to sink an additional 1200 feet (336 m) of shaft, install a ventilation shaft and complete underground development.

In his order, Judge David Campbell granted summary judgement in favour of the US Forest Service (USFS) and Energy Fuels, and ordered the plaintiffs' action terminated. The court rejected all of the plaintiffs' claims, including those alleging non-compliance with certain environmental and cultural procedural laws. The court also found that USFS properly consulted with the Native American tribe when the company decided to resume active mining operations. No substantive environmental, health or safety issues were asserted by the plaintiffs, Energy Fuels said.

The company's president, Stephen Antony, said the judge had noted that the government engaged in extensive environmental analysis and consultations regarding the project.

"The Canyon mine has been heavily studied, and the technical and geologic characteristics of the project are well-understood. Energy Fuels is absolutely committed to operating the Canyon mine in a responsible manner, and we are proud to do our part in providing clean energy to the world, as the uranium we produce will reduce air pollution and help address climate change," Antony said.

The district court's decision is subject to appeal.

Energy Fuels operates the White Mesa Mill, which is the only conventional uranium mill currently operating in the USA. The mill is capable of processing 2000 tonnes per day of uranium ore and has a licensed capacity of over 8 million pounds of U3O8 (3077 tU).

The company expects economic uranium resources at its currently operating Pinenut mine, also in Arizona, to be depleted during the second quarter of 2015. As Pinenut becomes depleted, experienced mining personnel from there will move to Canyon, which is a similar high-grade breccia pipe uranium deposit. Canyon has NI43-101 compliant inferred resources of 1.63 million pounds U3O8 (627 tU) at an average ore grade of 0.98%.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News