Fuel cycle roundup #16

12 November 2013

Canyon on hold

Energy Fuels has put shaft-sinking operations at its Canyon mine in Arizona on standby, citing current market conditions as well as ongoing litigation over the project. The company has agreed to temporarily place shaft-sinking operations on standby until the end of 2014 at the latest, pending a district court decision on legal proceedings brought by environmental groups and a local tribe against US Forest Service (USFS) decisions concerning the mine.

According to Energy Fuels president and CEO Stephen Antony, Canyon remains an important part of the company's medium-term plans but the suspension will enable the company to defer capital expenditures while reducing procedural costs linked to the litigation. Canyon was partially developed in the 1980s and prior to the latest announcement Energy Fuels had been aiming for production to restart in 2015. Approximately 91 metres of the required 460-metre shaft has already been sunk, and all surface development completed including the head-frame, hoist, evaporation ponds, environmental monitoring facilities and buildings.

Ups and downs of US uranium

US uranium production could be on track for a bumper year. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), 2013 production from the country's six active uranium facilities to the end of September totalled 3,712,541 pounds U3O8 (1428 tU) - its highest level since 1997 and is 16% up on production during the same period in 2012.

Production from the five active in-situ leach operations and one conventional mill has increased by 20% over the last two years, the EIA says - although the USA's 50 million pounds U3O8 (over 19,000 tU) annual uranium demand is largely met from other countries.

Licence renewals for Canadian operations

Canadian regulators have agreed to ten-year operating licence renewals for Cameco's uranium operations at Key Lake, McArthur River and Rabbit Lake. The new licences for the Saskatchewan operations run from 1 November 2013 to 31 October 2023, during which time Canadian Nuclear Regulatory Commission (CNSC) staff will provide annual reports on operations at the facilities.

Quebec minister says no

Strateco Resources is considering its options after Yves-Francois Blanchet, minister of sustainable development, environment, wildlife and parks for the Canadian province of Quebec, refused to authorise underground exploration at the Matoush uranium project. The certificate is the final authorisation needed before work can commence on advanced exploration including the excavation of an exploration ramp and construction of surface facilities, but the project has been stymied by a moratorium on uranium exploration and mining permits imposed by the provincial government in April 2013.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News