Operating licence granted for Reno Creek project

27 February 2017

CORRECTION -  This article was updated to reflect revised resource figures for the project, as well as its ownership.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued an operating licence to AUC LLC for the Reno Creek in-situ leach (ISL) uranium project in Campbell County, Wyoming.

In a notice in today's issue of the Federal Register, the NRC said, "Under the conditions listed in the licence, the Source and By-product Materials Licence SUA-1602 authorises AUC to operate its facilities as proposed in its licence application, as amended, and to possess uranium source and by-product material at the Reno Creek ISL facility." It continued, "In addition, the NRC has published a record of decision that supports the NRC's decision to approve AUC's licence application for the Reno Creek ISL facility and to issue the licence."

The NRC has also published a Safety Evaluation Report, which concludes the proposed facility can, "in a safe manner, operate, manage radiological and chemical hazards, protect groundwater, and eventually cleanup and decommission".

AUC submitted its licence application for the Reno Creek project - in the Powder River Basin in northeastern Wyoming - to the NRC in October 2012. In December 2016, the NRC issued a final supplementary environmental impact statement for the project, determining there are no environmental impacts that would preclude licensing the facility.

The Reno Creek project comprises NI 43-101 compliant resources of 21.98 million pounds of U3O8 at an average grade of 0.041% U3O8 measured and indicated and 0.93 million pounds of U3O8 at an average grade of 0.034% U3O8 inferred, as stated in its July 31, 2016 Resource Estimate by Behre Dolbear, Inc.

ISL mines pass a leaching solution - such as oxygen with sodium bicarbonate - through a sandstone aquifer containing uranium, dissolving it on the way. The solution is then pumped to the surface. The uranium is removed from the solution using an ion-exchange process. Usually the ion-exchange resin or solvent would undergo stripping and precipitation on-site to remove uranium.

The project will have up to 18 wellfields and a central processing plant producing initially up to 850,000 lbs of U3O8 per year, expanding as the market permits to as much as 1.5 million lbs of U3O8 per year. It is 30km southeast of Uranium One's Willow Creek and 50km north of Cameco's Smith Ranch uranium projects.

AUC LLC is owned indirectly by Pacific Road Resource Funds (97.3%), as managed by Pacific Road Capital Management, and Bayswater Uranium Corporation (2.7%).

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News