UEC to restart Wyoming uranium operation

17 January 2024

First uranium production at Christensen Ranch is expected in August after Uranium Energy Corp's (UEC) board of directors approved restarting the fully permitted and past-producing in-situ leach (ISL) operation - the output will be sold at prevailing spot market prices.

Inside the Christensen Ranch satellite plant (Image: UEC)

Uranium recovered from Christensen Ranch will be processed at the fully operational Irigaray Central Processing Plant. Irigaray, with a licensed capacity of 2.5 million pounds U3O8 (962 tU) per year, is the hub at the centre of the company's Wyoming hub-and-spoke project which includes eleven satellite ISL projects, four of which are fully permitted.

First production will be funded with existing cash on the company's balance sheet and, in line with UEC's strategy to remain 100% unhedged, will be sold at prevailing spot market prices, the company said.

"This is the moment we have been working towards for over a decade," UEC President and CEO Amir Adnani said. "Uranium market fundamentals are the best the industry has witnessed, and various supply shocks have accelerated the bull market with recent prices eclipsing the USD100 per pound level.  With this exciting backdrop, we are pleased to announce our production restart in Wyoming."

Initiatives to resume production are also being advanced at the company's South Texas hub-and-spoke platform, he added.

Extensive preparations, including the re-installation of equipment, re-attachment of piping and a variety of electrical testing, repairs and upgrades to the existing facilities, were completed at the Christensen Ranch wellfields and satellite processing plant last year. Work has also progressed on a detailed wellfield startup plan, drilling to identify additional resources, and submittal of an application to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to expand the Irigaray processing plant's licensed capacity to 4 million pounds U3O8 per year.

UEC took ownership of Irigaray and the orebodies in the Wyoming hub-and-spoke operation, including Christensen Ranch, through its 2021 acquisition of Uranium One Americas Inc from Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom. According to information from the US Energy Information Administration, Christensen Ranch and the Irigaray plant - together known as the Willow Creek project - have been on standby since last operating in 2018.

Operations will initially resume at mine units 7, 8 and 10, UEC said. The company will "in the coming months" provide further information on expected volumes for the first year of production, but is currently focused on the hiring and training of additional operations personnel to augment the company's existing team. It anticipates that new hires will be from local communities.

UEC's Wyoming projects contain total measured and indicated uranium resources of 66.198 million pounds U3O8, with total inferred resources of 15.54 million pounds.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News