Remote recovery for US uranium mines

22 August 2007

Uranium One has announced that it has arranged with Cameco's US subsidiary Power Resources for toll "milling" to recover uranium from its small Wyoming in-situ leach (ISL) mines, initially Moore Ranch in 2009.  

ISL mines pass a leaching solution through buried sand containing uranium, dissolving it on the way. The uranium is then 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.

However, under the arrangement agreed by Uranium One and Cameco, the resin would be trucked to a larger plant - in this case to Cameco's Smith Ranch-Highland mill 80 km away - to recover up to 540 tonnes of uranium per year.

Moore Ranch has 2235 tonnes of uranium as measured resource (as certified by the Canadian National Instrument 43-101) plus indicated resources.  

In Wyoming Uranium One has plans to produce 900 tonnes of uranium per year from three mines in the Powder River basin from 2009 (Moore Ranch, Peterson Ranch and Nine Mile) and 900 tonnes per year from Antelope in the Great Divide basin from 2010. It has some 4000 tonnes of uranium as measured resources and 23,000 tonnes as indicated resources in the state.

Cameco's Power Resources subsidiary operates the Smith Ranch-Highland mine in Wyoming and the Crow Butte mine in Nebraska, both of them ISL operations, and producing 786 and 281 tonnes of uranium respectively in 2006 from total reserves of 12,000 tonnes.

In southern Texas, Uranium One is refurbishing its Hobson mill to recover uranium from loaded resin trucked similarly from its La Palangana ISL mine, starting 2008.  It will have a capacity of 380 tonnes of uranium per year.

Further information

Uranium One

WNA's In-Situ Leach Mining of Uranium information paper