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Issues at Operating Uranium Mines and Mills - Wyoming, USA   flag

(last updated 19 Sep 2014)


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Brown Ranch · Christensen Ranch · Highland (Cameco Resources) · Irigaray · Lost Creek · Moore Ranch · Nichols Ranch · North Butte · Smith Ranch · Sweetwater · Willow Creek


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Decommissioning Projects · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Lost Creek (ISL), Sweetwater County

> View deposit data

Production rate at recently opened Lost Creek in situ leach mine almost halved due to low uranium spot price: "During Q2 2014, production rates at the Lost Creek Project were controlled at levels that allowed the Company to fulfill its contractual sales requirements without participating in the uranium spot market. [...] For the quarter, 116,707 pounds of U3O8 were captured within the Lost Creek plant." (Ur-Energy July 16, 2014)
[compared to the Q1 output of 198,600 pounds, this represents a reduction by 41%]

Freeboard exceedance of holding ponds at Lost Creek uranium in situ leach mine went unnoticed for six weeks: "On March 26, 2014, during a Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality - Land Quality Division Inspection, the inspector and the Lost Creek Manager of EHS recognized that the water levels in both ponds exceeded freeboard limits. A subsequent review of the daily pond inspection reports showed that the water level exceeded freeboard beginning on February 9, 2014."
> Download Lost Creek ISR, LLC, letter to NRC, Apr. 14, 2014 external link (ADAMS Acc. No. ML14105A301)

State orders halt of operation at Lost Creek uranium in situ leach mine for failure to maintain bleed: "[...] WDEQ/LQD District 2 has determined that failure to maintain an instantaneous bleed at the Lost Creek site is a violation of the approved Permit. Specifically, Section OP 3.6 of the Operations Plan, entitled 'Mine Unit Control' clearly states that 'The most basic aspect of mine unit control is the bleed system; e.g., overproduction. The bleed system will be used so the volume of injection fluid will be less than the volume of production fluid in a mine unit ... The anticipated bleed rate is 0.5 to 1.5 percent.'
In the attached Telephone Conversation Record it is indicated that there was no bleed on the Mine Unit I well field for 45 days out of the first 130 days of operation. The reason that no bleed has been maintained is because the mine currently does not have adequate waste water disposal capacity. [...]
Please comply with the following:
1. Stop injection immediately and maintain a cone of depression (hydrologic sink) in MU1 well field by pumping as necessary. [...]"
[Letter of Violation, Dec. 13, 2013 external link (WY DEQ - PDF, ADAMS Acc. No. ML13358A161 - emphasis added]

First uranium product shipment from Lost Creek in situ leach mine: On Dec. 4, 2013, Ur-Energy Inc. announced that it has shipped the first load of yellowcake from its Lost Creek Project on December 3, 2013.

Wyoming DEQ invites public comment on draft amendment to deep disposal well permit for Lost Creek uranium in situ leach mine:
The public is invited to comment on this draft permit until November 27th, 2013.
> Download Public Notice Oct. 24, 2013 external link (PDF)
> Download Draft Permit Oct. 24, 2013 external link (PDF)
> Download Supplemental Information external link (PDF)

Court upholds BLM Record of Decision on Lost Creek uranium mine project: On Sep. 19, 2013, Ur-Energy Inc. announced that it has received an "Order Upholding Agency Action" from the U.S. District Court for Wyoming which upholds the BLM's Record of Decision authorizing the Company's Lost Creek Project in Sweetwater County, Wyoming.
On September 18, 2013, the U.S. District Court for Wyoming denied all relief sought by Biodiversity Conservation Alliance external link, a Wyoming-based environmental group, which had challenged the Lost Creek Record of Decision issued by the BLM in October 2012.

> View older issues

License violations and reportable events at Lost Creek in-situ leaching site


Willow Creek (ISL), Campbell County

(formerly Christensen Ranch / Irigaray)

> View deposit info
> see also decommissioning issues
> View NRC page external link

And again: pressure buildup in drum filled with yellow cake at Willow Creek uranium in situ leach mine causes contamination incident at conversion plant - this time in Metropolis (Illinois)

"[...] when the drum lid was being removed at the ConverDyn facility weighing and sampling plant, as the drum lid bolts were being removed, the lid of the drum buckled and U3O8 concentrates escaped the drum and spread in an approximately six foot radius around the drum in the sampling plant area." (Uranium One email to NRC, Sep. 10, 2014)

> See also current issues Metropolis conversion plant, Illinois
> See also 2012 contamination incident in Canadian refinery caused by yellow cake shipped from Uranium One's in situ leach mine in Wyoming

NRC issues Notice of Violation to Uranium One for failure to follow procedures established to prevent pressure buildup in drums filled with yellow cake at Willow Creek uranium in situ leach mine

On Sep. 8, 2014, NRC issued a Notice of Violation to Uranium One USA, Inc.: "[...] between November 4, 2012, and July 26, 2013, the licensee failed to process yellowcake with at least a minimum of 4.5 hours drumming rate per barrel. Specifically, the licensee processed 55 drums of yellowcake with a drumming rate between 4 hours and 4 hours and 25 minutes, and one drum processed at a drumming rate of 3 hours and 40 minutes."
The minimum drumming rate had been established after pressure build up in drums filled at Willow Creek had led to a contamination incident at Cameco's Blind River refinery on June 23, 2012 (view details).

Wyoming DEQ invites comment on proposed license renewal for planned deep disposal wells at Irigaray in situ leach uranium mine

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is proposing to renew Uranium One Americas, Inc.'s existing permit for authorization to inject into two injection wells which have not yet been built.
Submit comment on the draft permit until September 23rd, 2014.
> View WY DEQ Public Notices external link

NRC issues temporary exemption from certain financial assurance requirements to Uranium One for its Willow Creek in situ leach uranium mine

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing a temporary exemption from certain NRC financial assurance requirements to Uranium One USA, Inc., (Uranium One) in response to its annual financial assurance update for the Willow Creek uranium in-situ recovery (ISR) Project.
> Federal Register Volume 79, Number 147 (Thursday, July 31, 2014) p. 44472-44474 (download full text external link)
> Access Docket ID NRC-2014-0177 external link

Spill continued unnoticed for nine days at Uranium One's Willow Creek in situ leach uranium mine

Date and Estimated Time: from January 6, 2014 (estimated) to January 15, 2014 (10:45 am).
"Approximately 77,700 gallons of ISR recovery fluid was released from Modular Building 5-5 after the production manifold froze and broke when a 6'' butterfly valve associated with the Mine Unit 5-2 trunkline and the building's manifold failed. The release flowed North West approximately 5,440 feet [1,658 m] down a dry ephemeral drainage. The release did not enter any active waters including Willow Creek. [...]
It is estimated that approximately 24,000 square feet (0.56 acre) [2,230 m2] of soil was impacted. [...] This building is not utilized for production activities which allowed the release to go unnoticed for several days until routine quarterly sampling activities occurred in the area. [...]"
Release analysis results: Mod 5-5 Recovery Manifold - 12.7 ppm Uranium [...]
(Uranium One Feb. 12, 2014)

Uranium One proposes to process yellow cake from mothballed South Australian Honeymoon mine at Willow Creek site in Wyoming

On Dec. 10, 2013, Uranium One asked NRC for an "urgent Conference call [...] to discuss the transfer and storage of drummed yellowcake from our Honeymoon facility in Australia to our Willow Creek facility in Wyoming. The Honeymoon facility was recently placed in care and maintenance and must move the yellowcake to a secure facility, preferably owned by Uranium One and within the U.S. [...]
However, the Honeymoon material contains small amounts of organic residual from the solvent extraction process that is above each converter's rejection limit for their processes. Therefore Uranium One also wishes to discuss with you the potential for reprocessing (additional drying - calcining) of this material at our Willow Creek facility." [Uranium One Letter to NRC, Dec. 10, 2013 external link, ADAMS Acc. No. ML13350A032]
On Feb. 28, 2014, Uranium One submitted a related license amendment request to the NRC [ADAMS Acc. No. ML14066A112].

Uranium One halts development of new well fields at Willow Creek in situ leach uranium mine owing to low uranium price

Twenty-six Wyoming employees of Uranium One Inc. will be out of work at the end of June, after the Toronto-based company decided to stop drilling additional wells because of low uranium prices. With the layoffs, the company will stop developing new well fields and focus on production in current well fields, said Donna Wichers, a senior vice president of Americas for Uranium One. (Casper Star-Tribune June 15, 2013)

Irigaray expansion

On May 31, 2013, Uranium One notified the NRC that the license amendment application for the Irigaray expansion is now scheduled for submittal end of the fourth quarter 2015.

Wyoming DEQ authorizes operation of Unit 10A Well Field at Christensen Ranch uranium in situ leach mine

On Feb. 8, 2013, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality authorized Uranium One to commence lixiviant injection in the Unit 10A Well Field at the Willow Creek (Christensen Ranch) Mine.

Wyoming DEQ authorizes operation of Unit 8 Well Field at Christensen Ranch uranium in situ leach mine

On Dec. 18, 2012, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality authorized Uranium One to commence lixiviant injection in the Unit 8 Well Field at the Willow Creek (Christensen Ranch) Mine.

NRC takes action in case of contamination incident in Canadian refinery caused by yellow cake shipped from Uranium One's in situ leach mine in Wyoming

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a Confirmatory Action Letter documenting actions that Uranium One USA has agreed to take following an incident in Canada in which three workers were exposed to yellowcake from a drum shipped from a U.S. facility.
The incident occurred on June 23 at a uranium conversion facility in Blind River, Canada. When a worker loosened a ring clamp on a 55-gallon drum containing uranium oxide yellowcake the lid blew off, ejecting about 26 kilograms of the material into the air. The worker closest to the drum and two others in the area, who were not wearing respirators, were exposed to airborne uranium. Any adverse health effects to the workers would likely be caused by chemical, rather than radiological effects.
The barrel had been shipped from Uranium One's Willow Creek Facility in Wyoming to a Canadian conversion facility on May 29. Following this incident several other drums shipped to the Canadian facility containing yellowcake were found to be bulging from internal pressure.
The Canadian facility has stopped opening containers of yellowcake from Uranium One's Willow Creek facility until they can develop a plan to safely do so. The licensee has notified the NRC that it has suspended all shipping from the Willow Creek facility until it determines how the drums became pressurized.
Under the terms of the Confirmatory Action Letter, Uranium One has agreed to investigate the cause of the event; develop a course of action to ensure the safety of any other unopened drums containing yellowcake previously shipped from its Wyoming facility; and develop a corrective action plan to ensure the safety of continued storage, shipment or further processing of the yellowcake.
After similar events occurred at several facilities in 1998, corrective actions were adopted by the industry to prevent recurrence. Specifically, new procedures were adopted to ensure that drums containing yellowcake remained unsealed for at least three hours to ensure adequate cooling of the material. (NRC release July 6, 2012 - emphasis added)
> Download Confirmatory Action Letter CAL 4-12-003, July 5, 2012 external link (PDF)
> Download Preliminary Notification PNO-IV-2012-005, July 5, 2012 external link (PDF)

On Dec. 4, 2012, NRC notified Uranium One, that "Based on an independent evaluation of the adequacy of corrective actions taken, the NRC has determined that the actions prescribed in CAL 4-12-003 have been met. Consequently, the NRC is closing the CAL, which will allow Uranium One to resume shipments of yellowcake product in accordance with the new packaging and transportation procedures."
> Download Preliminary Notification PNO-IV-2012-005A, December 4, 2012 external link (PDF)

> See also: NRC issues revised Information Notice on prevention of gas buildup in yellow cake drums
> See also current issues Blind River Refinery (Ontario)

Commissioning phase at Willow Creek (ex Christensen Ranch) ISL uranium mine still ongoing after almost one year

Commissioning at the Willow Creek Project commenced in December 2010. Commissioning will be completed when a pre-defined operating level, based on the design of the plant, is maintained. (Uranium One Inc. Nov. 7, 2011)

NRC begins special investigation of Willow Creek uranium in situ leach mine after aerial release of yellow cake powder

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission launched a "special investigation" today to determine if workers were exposed to "yellowcake" after an incident at Uranium One USA Inc.'s Irigaray and Christensen Ranch in-situ uranium mine in northeast Wyoming. According to a NRC press release, the incident occurred on Sunday (Oct. 2). Two workers were in the vicinity of a "dryer" containing yellowcake - yellow uranium oxide powder - when they heard an alarm and the dryer automatically shut down. The yellowcake dryer is located inside an enclosed building. "It appears that a seal on the dryer may have broken, causing the yellowcake powder to escape," the NRC stated in the press release. "Current information indicates there were no major safety impacts or release to the environment as the dryer is housed inside a pressurized sealed room within a building." NRC spokeswoman Lara Uselding told WyoFile that it appears the workers were wearing proper protective clothing to avoid exposure to the uranium material. To determine whether there was an exposure, air samples will be analyzed. Also, the workers underwent urinalysis testing.
"We got results back today, and uranium was non-detectable ... So they had no intake of uranium," Donna Wichers, Uranium One senior vice president of in-situ operations, told WyoFile in a phone interview on Wednesday (Oct. 5). Wichers described the entire incident as a "non-event," and said the NRC inspector was scheduled to visit the mine anyway. She said once the NRC decided to launch a special investigation, part of the agency's protocol is to issue a press release, "Which we tried to talk them out of," Wichers said. (WyoFile Oct. 5, 2011, emphasis added)
> Download NRC release Oct. 5, 2011 external link (PDF)

State issues Notice of Violation for spill of sodium chloride brine solution at Willow Creek uranium in situ leach mine

On Sep. 19, 2011, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality issued a Notice of Violation to Uranium One USA, Inc. for a spill of approx. 7,000-10,000 gallons of sodium chloride brine solution that occured "around August 4 or 5, 2011" but was reported only on August 19, 2011.
> Download Notice of Violation NOV #4900-11, Sep. 19, 2011 external link (PDF - WY DEQ)
> Download Notice of Compliance, Oct. 19, 2011 external link (PDF - WY DEQ)

 

License renewal of Willow Creek (formerly Christensen Ranch / Irigaray) uranium in situ leach mine

NRC issues license renewal for Willow Creek (formerly Christensen Ranch / Irigaray) uranium in situ leach mine: On March 7, 2013, NRC issued a 10-year license renewal for the Willow Creek uranium in situ leach mine.
> Federal Register Volume 78, Number 55 (Thursday, March 21, 2013) p. 17450-17451 (download full text external link)
> Download: License SUA-1341, March 7, 2013 external link (1.1MB PDF)
> Downlad: Safety Evaluation Report, March 2013 external link (8.8MB PDF)

NRC issues Supplemental Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for license renewal with more than doubled flow rate:
> Federal Register Volume 78, Number 17 (Friday, January 25, 2013) p. 5514-5516 (download full text external link)
"This supplemental environmental assessment addresses new information since the original environmental assessment for license renewal regarding the applicant's proposed change to increase the licensee's Christensen Ranch satellite plant throughput from 15,140 liters per minute (L/min) (4,000 gallons per minute (gpm)) to 34,070 L/min (9,000 gpm)."
> Download: Supplemental Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for License Renewal for Uranium One USA, Inc., Willow Creek Uranium In-Situ Recovery Project, Johnson and Campbell Counties, WY, License SUA-1341, January 2013 external link (147k PDF)
> Access Docket ID NRC-2009-0036 external link

NRC issues Final Environmental Assessment for license renewal: "CONCLUSION: The NRC staff concludes that the renewal of License SUA-1341, involving continued operation of the Irigaray and Christensen Ranch projects, would not significantly impact the environment."
> Federal Register: July 14, 2011 (Volume 76, Number 135) p. 41528-41529 (download full text external link)
> Download Final Environmental Assessment, July 2011 external link (789k PDF)

 

Uranium One fined US$ 25,000 for missed sampling of 24 monitor wells at Willow Creek ISL uranium mine

Of 66 monitoring wells requiring sampling in the recently started Well Field Unit 7, sampling had been missed at least once in 24 wells for a total of 82 missed sampling events. Since the well field began operations, each well should have been sampled seven times over a period of 14 weeks, sampling being required on a biweekly basis. Five wells were never sampled while seven had only on sampling event missed.
In a settlement agreement of April 21, 2011, Uranium One agrees to pay a total penalty of US$ 25,000.
> Download Notice of Violation NOV #4831-11 external link, April 21, 2011 (PDF - WY DEQ)
> Download Settlement Agreement, May 2011 external link (PDF - WY DEQ)
> Download Termination of Notice of Violation external link, Nov. 23, 2011 (PDF - WY DEQ)

Public comment invited on proposed additional deep disposal wells at Christensen Ranch in situ leach uranium mine

On Nov. 5, 2010, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality announced that it proposes to permit two additional deep disposal wells (in addition to the two existing ones) at Christensen Ranch.
The public is invited to comment on the draft permit until December 10, 2010.
> Download Public Notice external link · Draft Permit 10-219 external link · Fact Sheet external link (PDF - WY DEQ)

Transfer of ownership of the Christensen Ranch ISL mine to Atomredmetzoloto

Atomredmetzoloto can't export uranium mined in Wyoming

A Russian state-owned firm mining Wyoming uranium can't export what it mines and would need to meet stringent requirements before it could do so, the top U.S. nuclear regulator told Sen. John Barrasso in a letter released Monday (Mar. 28).
The written response from Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko came in response to a Barrasso letter to President Barack Obama in December. The Wyoming Republican expressed "strong concerns" regarding NRC approval in November of the purchase of a controlling stake in Uranium One Inc. by Russian state-owned firm ARMZ that month. Russia helps with nuclear programs in countries unfriendly to the United States, Barrasso wrote. Uranium One owns several permits to mine Wyoming uranium and operates processing facilities and mines in Johnson and Campbell counties.
In his response to Barrasso, Jaczko said ARMZ and Uranium One lack the export license needed to ship uranium out of the country. "In order to export uranium from the United States, Uranium One Inc. or ARMZ would need to apply for and obtain a specific NRC license authorizing the export of uranium for use in reactor fuel," Jaczko wrote. If the firm did request permission to export uranium, U.S. law would require Russia to certify that the uranium would be used only for peaceful purposes. The law would also require Russia to suitably protect the nuclear fuel, not transfer it to a third country and not alter the form without U.S. consent. If the firm did apply for an export license, that request would be made public, Jackzo wrote. (Billings Gazette Mar. 28, 2011)

NRC approves transfer of ownership of the Christensen Ranch ISL mine to Atomredmetzoloto

On Nov. 23, 2010, NRC approved the change of control of the Christensen Ranch ISL mine from Uranium One Americas, Inc. to Atomredmetzoloto.
> Download NRC release Nov. 24, 2010 external link (PDF)
> Federal Register: December 7, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 234) p. 76050-76051 (download full text external link)

NRC provides opportunity to request hearing and/or provide comments on the proposed transfer of ownership of the Christensen Ranch ISL mine to Atomredmetzoloto

Notice of Application From Uranium One USA, Inc., for Consent to an Indirect Change of Control for Source Material License SUA-1341 to JSC Atomredmetzoloto, Opportunity To Provide Comments and To Request a Hearing:
Requests for a hearing must be filed by October 12, 2010.
Comments must be received by October 20, 2010.

> Download NRC release Sep. 20, 2010 external link (PDF)
> Federal Register: September 20, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 181) p. 57300-57302 (download full text external link)

Christensen Ranch to become first Russian-owned uranium mine in the U.S.

If, as announced on June 8, 2010, Russian state-owned Atomredmetzoloto succeeds in becoming the majority shareholder of Uranium One Inc., Christensen Ranch will become the first Russian-owned uranium mine in the U.S. This change of control for the Christensen Ranch license will require NRC approval.
In addition, Uranium One's properties in the U.S. include, among others, the idle Shootaring Canyon uranium mill (Utah), and the proposed in situ leach uranium mines of Moore Ranch, Ludeman, and JAB/Antelope (all in Wyoming).

Uranium One plans to have new Wyoming ISL projects licensed as satellites to newly acquired Christensen Ranch / Irigaray mine

On Jan. 18, 2010, Uranium One notified the NRC that, in view of the acquisition of the Christensen Ranch / Irigaray mine, it plans to request the approval of its new ISL projects Ludeman, Allemand-Ross, and Moore Ranch as satellites to Christensen Ranch / Irigaray.

Uranium One acquires Christensen Ranch and Irigaray uranium in-situ leach mines

Acquisition of Christensen Ranch and Irigaray uranium in-situ leach mines by Uranium One Inc. completed: Uranium One Inc.'s purchase of Cogema Mining, Inc. from Areva (Cogema Resources, Inc.) closed on January 25, 2010. The name of Cogema Mining, Inc. will be changed to Uranium One USA, Inc.

NRC approves acquisition of Christensen Ranch and Irigaray uranium in-situ leach mines by Uranium One Inc.: On Dec. 17, 2009, NRC issued an order providing consent to the change of control.
Federal Register: December 30, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 249) p. 69152-69153 (download full text external link)

NRC provides opportunity to request a hearing concerning acquisition of Christensen Ranch and Irigaray uranium in-situ leach mines by Uranium One Inc.: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering an application submitted on September 18, 2009, by Cogema Mining, Inc. (Cogema or the Applicant), requesting consent for an indirect change of control with respect to its NRC Materials License SUA-1341. Under this license, Cogema operates the Irigaray and Christensen Ranch in situ leach (ISL) uranium milling facilities that are located in Johnson and Campbell Counties, Wyoming. Cogema is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cogema Resources, Inc. (Cogema Resources), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Areva NC. Cogema Resources is planning to sell Cogema to Uranium One Exploration U.S.A., Inc. (Uranium One), which, through several subsidiaries, is wholly owned by Uranium One, Inc.
A request for a hearing must be filed by November 19, 2009.
Federal Register: October 30, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 209) p. 56241-56243 (download full text external link)

Uranium One Inc. to acquire Christensen Ranch and Irigaray uranium in-situ leach mines: On Aug. 10, 2009, Uranium One Inc. announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 100% of the MALCO Joint Venture from wholly-owned subsidiaries of AREVA and EDF for US$ 35 million in cash.
The assets of MALCO include the licensed and permitted Irigaray ISR central processing plant, the Christensen Ranch satellite ISR facility and associated U3O8 resources located in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming.
The Irigaray and Christensen Ranch facilities are expected to form the basis of a new operating plan for the Company's projects in Wyoming. Uranium One anticipates that its Moore Ranch project will now become a satellite ISR operation, with loaded resins being transported to Irigaray for further processing into dried U3O8. Uranium One's additional projects in the Powder River Basin, including Ludeman, Peterson, Allemand-Ross and Barge could also be developed as satellite operations with final processing through Irigaray.

NRC staff finds no problem with groundwater impacts of existing in-situ leach uranium mines

> View here

U.S. NRC issues Notice of license renewal request for Christensen and Irigaray Ranch uranium in-situ leach facilities and opportunity to request a hearing

Notice of Request To Renew Source Materials License SUA-1341, COGEMA Mining, Inc., Christensen and Irigaray Ranch Facilities, Johnson and Campbell Counties, WY, and Opportunity To Request a Hearing

A request for a hearing must be filed by April 10, 2009.

Federal Register: February 9, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 25) p. 6436-6440 (download full text) external link

Restart of Christensen Ranch/Irigaray uranium ISL mines

Christensen Ranch/Irigaray uranium ISL mines restarted without EPA approval

By letter dated Feb. 11, 2011, EPA notified Uranium One that a licence for evaporation and holding ponds is required according to 40 CFR Part 61, Subpart W, National Emission Standards for Radon Emissions from Operating Mill Tailings.
"Resuming operation of the ponds is considered to be a modification, requiring that a modification approval application be submitted to EPA before the modification is planned to commence. We understand that the Christensen Ranch/Irigaray facilities have resumed operation. We have not received an approval application for the ponds onsite, as required by 40 CFR §61.07."

By letter dated Apr. 20, 2011, Uranium One contested the applicability of 40 CFR Part 61, Subpart W to its in situ leach operations.

Production restarted at Christensen Ranch/Irigaray uranium ISL mines

Uranium One has started production at its Christensen Ranch uranium mine in southwest Campbell County, making it the first operating uranium mine in Campbell County in more than a decade. Uranium One also has opened its Irigaray processing plant just across the border in Johnson County. The Irigaray plant now processes the uranium ore from the Christensen Ranch facility into yellowcake uranium. (Gillette News Record Jan. 7, 2011)

NRC authorizes restart of Christensen Ranch/Irigaray uranium ISL mines

> Download NRC release Dec. 17, 2010 external link

NRC issues Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for restart of Christensen Ranch/Irigaray uranium ISL mines

Federal Register: September 12, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 178) p. 53052 (download full text external link)
> Download Environmental Assessment Sep. 2008 external link (ADAMS ML082110026)

The requested license amendment to revert from restoration and decommissioning status to operating status was issued by NRC on Sep. 30, 2008.

NRC issues Notice of license amendment request for restart of Christensen Ranch/Irigaray uranium ISL mines and opportunity to request a hearing

On March 6, 2008, NRC issued a Notice of License Amendment Request to revert to operating status from restoration and decommissioning status, COGEMA Mining, Inc., Christensen and Irigaray Ranch facilities, Johnson and Campbell Counties, Wyoming, and Opportunity to Request a Hearing.
A request for a hearing must be filed by May 16, 2008.
Federal Register: March 17, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 52) p. 14279-14281 (download full text external link)

COGEMA to restart Christensen Ranch in-situ leach uranium mine

With yellowcake cruising at $43 per pound on increased demand and dwindling worldwide stockpiles, COGEMA Mining Co. is now under strict orders from its international parent companies to get the Christensen Ranch in-situ leach uranium mine back on full production. "It's just a matter of a few -- six months -- before we're back in operation," said Mark Owens, who serves as manager of technical support for Mills-based COGEMA. In addition to putting its Christensen Ranch mine back on production, COGEMA is seeking to increase its uranium ore reserves in the state, according to Owens. (Casper Star-Tribune May 22, 2006)

"Due to an increase in the uranium market price, mining is anticipated to resume at Christensen Ranch during year 2007. The final decision to resume mining is still pending the Joint Participation's approval, hopefully by the end of 2006 (The Joint Participation includes COGEMA Mining, Inc. as the operator and 71% owner, Malapai Resources Company as 29% owner; decisions must be unanimous).
Assuming that mining is resumed at Christensen Ranch, the first step will be continued well installation in the remainder of Mine Unit 7 (MU7). MU7 was about 50% installed when operations were shut down in year 2000. Drilling and well installation would resume in March 2007, followed by the initiation of surface construction (connection of wells to module buildings, connection to existing main trunkline to the plant). If schedules are adhered to, and all necessary approvals obtained, lixiviant injection could resume in MU7 as early as September 2007."
(COGEMA Mining, Inc., ANNUAL REPORT, PERMIT TO MINE NO. 478, August 19, 2005 through August 18, 2006)

On April 3, 2007, COGEMA Mining, Inc. requested an amendment of the license for its Irigaray/Christensen Ranch facilities to revert to an operating (uranium production) status from the current restoration and decommissioning status.

Christensen Ranch ISL project shut down

"Christensen Ranch Project
All chemical addition to the mining wellfields ceased during February, 2000. Uranium recovery was slowly phased out during the following months, with the last operating wellfield shut down on June 23, 2000. Groundwater restoration is ongoing with active restoration in two out of five Mine Units (#3 and 5). Residual uranium is removed at a rate of approximately 50 lbs. per day during the Christensen restoration process. Projected completion of groundwater restoration is in 2005, with final decommissioning and surface reclamation to follow.

Irigaray Project
Mining ended in 1994. Groundwater restoration is ongoing with two Production Units (# 6 and 7) out of a total of nine Restoration has been completed in the other seven Production Units. Residual uranium is removed at a rate of approximately 10 lbs. per day during the Irigaray restoration process. Completion of groundwater restoration is projected for late 2001, with wellfield decommissioning and surface reclamation to follow. Decommissioning of most plant facilities will not begin until groundwater restoration is completed at the Christensen Project and all recovered uranium is processed."
(COGEMA Mining, Inc. letter to NRC dated September 7, 2000, available through ADAMS external link)

Cogema to shut down Christensen Ranch / Irigaray ISL site in second half of 2000

COGEMA plans to cease production in all of its well fields of its Christensen Ranch / Irigaray in-situ leach site in Wyoming sometime during the third or fourth calender quarters of 2000.
All well fields will be in the restoration phase after production ceases. COGEMA's proposes to submit a decommissioning plan to NRC by April 30, 2000. It is anticipated that upon completion of the mining it will require a number of years to conclude the ground water restoration efforts in all impacted well fields.
(NRC letter to Cogema dated Nov. 29, 1999, available through ADAMS external link)

Cogema gets aquifer exemption for deep well brine disposal at Christensen Ranch ISL site

Cogema received permission to inject brines from its Christensen Ranch in-situ leaching site in Wyoming in deep aquifers that might be a source of future drinking water supply. The brines consist of operational bleed streams from commercial in-situ leaching uranium mining operations as well as fluids from the restoration of the aquifer in mined out sections of the Christensen Ranch site. The exemption is necessary, since aquifer fluids contain less than 3,000 mg/l Total Dissolved Solids (TDS).
> See notice in Federal Register, March 26, 1999 (Vol. 64, No. 58), p. 14799-14804 (download full notice external link)
> See also Federal Register, August 27, 1998 (Vol. 63, No. 166), p. 45810-45812 (download full notice external link)

License renewal for Cogema's Irigaray and Christensen Ranch ISL uranium mines

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact for the proposed license renewal of Cogema's Irigaray and Christensen Ranch in-situ leach uranium mines in Wyoming.
> See notice in Federal Register, June 26, 1998 (Vol. 63, No. 123), p. 34942-34944 (download full notice external link).

The License violations and reportable events reported for the Christensen Ranch facility are not mentioned in this Federal Register notice.

License violations and reportable events at Willow Creek (ex Christensen Ranch / Irigaray) in-situ leaching site

See also: Lists of Spills and Excursions for COMIN, Dec. 17, 2009 external link (ADAMS Acc. No. ML093640215)

According to Cogema's "Quarterly Progress Report of Monitor Wells on Excursion Status" of Oct. 2, 2000 (available through ADAMS external link), 7 monitor wells at Irigaray remained on excursion status during the third quarter of 2000. The wells have been on excursion status for more than one year and up to 11 years. One other monitor well has been removed from excursion status.

Latest NRC Event Reports referring to Uranium One's Willow Creek (ex Christensen Ranch / Irigaray) ISL site in Wyoming:

Find more events under decommissioning issues (details on post-Nov.1,1999, events available through ADAMS external link, Docket No. 04008502)

> For reports on many more spills, download WY DEQ's spill databases external link!


Cameco Resources Highland Uranium Project, Converse County

> View deposit info
> Cameco Resources (formerly Power Resources, Inc.)
> See also: Highland ISL decommissioning issues
> See also: Smith Ranch

 

Wyoming DEQ assesses impact of usage of failed injection well at Cameco's Highland in situ leach uranium mine

The Land Quality Division (LQD) requested in letter dated December 9, 2013, that Cameco Resources schedule a meeting with the LQD by January 10, 2014, to address the impacts of using wells converted to injection use without conducting and passing a mechanical integrity test (MIT). The LQD is considering a Notice of Violation for the lack of a successful MIT for DP-022. (Wyoming DEQ March 4, 2014)

Cameco requests combined state permit for existing Smith Ranch, Highland, and proposed Reynolds Ranch in situ leach mines

> View here

State regulator issues Notice of Violation for deficiencies resulting in excursion at Cameco's Highland in situ leach uranium mine

The Notice of Violation is the result of a lack of operational controls to control wellfield mining fluids resulting in an excursion outside of the aquifer exemption boundary. These violations were identified during the June 2011 Land Quality Division (LQD) Inspection.
> Download: Notice of Violation, March 5, 2013: WY DEQ LQD external link · NRC ADAMS external link (PDF)

Uranium company appealing Wyoming DEQ decision: State environmental regulators and a uranium company are at odds over whether the company allowed precursors of uranium contamination to seep into test water wells near their field. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality served Cameco Resources with a violation notice in early March. Agency officials and Cameco are in discussions about the notice. The violation occurred after data indicated a split in a well casing, according to Robin Jones, land quality supervisor for DEQ District 1. The state says faulty equipment contributed to the spread of lixiviant, a solution used to leach uranium from the ground.
But officials with Cameco question the state's judgment in calling what happened a violation. "We believe it was issued prematurely," company spokesman Ken Vaughn said. "We conducted tests, including the installation of an adjacent test well, which indicated there was no lateral movement of mining solution in the area." (Casper Star-Tribune Apr. 22, 2013)

Many compliance concerns identified during inspection of Cameco's Highland / Smith Ranch in situ leach uranium mine

> View here

Reopening of Cameco's Highland processing plant for resin stripping

Cameco presents plan for Phase I of the Highland Plant Renovation: Cameco Resources (Cameco) has initiated planning to increase U3O8 (yellowcake) production capacity of the Wyoming and Nebraska In-Situ Recovery (ISR) mines. Included in this plan is the need to receive toll shipments from various NRC licensed facilities to elute their resin in addition to Cameco's own satellite facilities. The loaded resin is to be shipped from each NRC licensed processing operation to the Highland facility for resin stripping and barren resin return to originator. The demolition portion of the plan is a two phase approach to achieve the goal; Phase I, Project Infrastructure Installation and Up-Grade; Phase 2, Plant Building Interior Demolition, and Phase 3 [!?], the Highland Dryer Demolition.
This plan, Phase 1, includes the re-habilitation of the Highland Processing Plant from the existing standby condition, modernization of the building services, and installation a Contractor support facility consisting of office trailer utilities and a new electrical substation.
(Phase I of the Highland Plant Renovation external link, Cameco Sep. 15, 2011)

Numerous deficiencies identified during inspection of abandoned drill holes at Cameco's Highland / Smith Ranch in situ leach uranium mine

> View here

State regulator requests investigation of possible impacts of long-term excursion at Cameco Highland in situ leach uranium mine

In a "Letter of Conference and Conciliation" dated May 17, 2011, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality Land Quality Division requested Cameco Resources (CR) to perform additional groundwater monitoring in the aftermath of an excursion at monitor well CM-32 that was first reported on July 10, 2007:
"The Land Quality Division (LQD) has conducted a review of the records for Well-CM-32 which was on excursion from July 2007 through April 2011. During the review it was discovered that the location of CM-32 is within several hundred feet of the aquifer exemption boundary and the permit boundary. As a result of the injection of restoration fluid into the wellfield, subsequent to the onset of the excursion, there is concern that the lack of control of the excursion for almost four years may have caused fluid migration outside the exemption boundary." [...]
"CR is required to investigate the extent of the excursion beyond the monitor well ring and the proximity to the aquifer exemption boundary and the permit boundary. A minimum of two monitor wells to investigate the extent of the excursion will be required."
> Download Wyoming DEQ Letter of Conference and Conciliation, Excursion at CM-32, May 17, 2011 external link (294k PDF)

Wyoming DEQ issues Notice of Violation to Cameco Resources for multiple failures at Highland ISL site; Cameco pays $13,000 fine

On Dec. 8, 2009, Wyoming DEQ issued a Notice of Violation to Cameco Resources for failure to report a monitor well excursion, among others, at the Highland ISL site.
In a settlement agreement, Cameco agreed to pay $13,000.
> Download Notice of Violation Dec. 8, 2009 external link (658k PDF)
> Download Settlement Agreement #4598-09, Jan. 27, 2010 external link (1.5M PDF)

Wyoming DEQ issues Notice of Violation to Cameco Resources for failure to report excursion at Highland ISL site; Cameco pays $5000 fine

On Jan. 23, 2009, Wyoming DEQ issued a Notice of Violation to Cameco Resources for failure to report a solution excursion at the Highland ISL site: "an excursion was discovered by LQD in sampling data reported on September 4, 2008. The report indicated well CM-14 had exceeded all upper control limit parameters during that sampling event."
In a settlement agreement, Cameco agreed to pay $5000.
> Download WY DEQ Notice of Violation #4419-09 external link (329k PDF)
> Download Settlement Agreement #4419-09, March 9, 2009 external link (616k PDF)

Wyoming DEQ denounces poor environmental compliance at Smith Ranch/Highland in situ leach mine, issues Notice of Violation to PRI for failure to conduct concurrent reclamation

> View here

Cameco to restart Highland uranium recovery plant

On Dec. 4, 2007, Cameco announced that it is planning to restart its idle Highland uranium "mill" (i.e. the plant recovering the uranium from the pregnant solution produced by in situ-leach mining). The plant will be required to meet the proposed production increase at Cameco's Crow Butte and Smith Ranch-Highland in situ-leach facilities.

Wyoming DEQ issues Notice of Violation to PRI on major injection fluid spill at Highland ISL site

On Sep. 12, 2007, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality issued a Notice of Violation to Power Resources Inc. based on the 198,500 gallon [751 cubic meters] spill of injection fluid reported by PRI on June 22, 2007 to the Land Quality Division (LQD).
> Download WY DEQ Notice of Violation #4122-07 (PDF) external link · Settlement Agreement (858k PDF) external link

 

Cameco writes down Highland ISL property

On Nov. 7, 2000, Cameco announced the writedown of the Highland ISL property. Cameco plans to gradually reduce annual production to 300,000 pounds U3O8 (115 t U) by 2003, with the option of increasing production when prices warrant.

Development of the Highland ISL uranium project to be suspended

"Development activities at the Highland ISL uranium project in Wyoming will be suspended from 1 October, Power Resources International has announced. PRI also plans to scale production back from 700,000 pounds U3O8 (269 tU) in 2001 to 500,000 pounds U3O8 (192 tU) in 2002 and 300,000 pounds U3O8 (115 tU) in 2003. Current market conditions have been cited as the reason for the cutbacks, but PRI has the ability to ramp up production quickly should the market require." (UI News Briefing 00.39, Sep 27, 2000)

 

License Renewal for Power Resources, Inc. Highland Uranium Project (Wyoming)

By letter dated July 13, 2000, Power Resources is requesting a license renewal for its Highland ISL project for 10 years. (details available through ADAMS external link, Docket No. 04008857)

 

License violations and reportable events at Power Resources, Inc. Highland Uranium Project, Wyoming, USA

> For reports on many more spills, download WY DEQ's spill databases external link!

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a Notice of Violation to Power Resources, Inc., of Denver, Colorado, for violations of NRC requirements at the Highland Uranium Project in Converse County, Wyoming.
Power Resources, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cameco Corp.

> View Notice of Violation EA 97-218 external link


Smith Ranch, Converse County (Wyoming)

> View deposit details
> See also: Cameco Resources Highland Uranium Project
> See also: North Butte / Ruth satellite facility
> See also: Reynolds Ranch
> See also: Ruby Ranch satellite facility project
> See also: Shirley Basin satellite facility project

 

Nichols Ranch uranium in situ leach mine sends first uranium-loaded resin to Cameco's Smith Ranch plant for processing

> View here

Cameco requests combined state permit for existing Smith Ranch, Highland, and proposed Reynolds Ranch in situ leach mines

Power Resources, Inc. d/b/a Cameco Resources of Cheyenne, Wyoming has applied for an in situ mining permit amendment from the Land Quality Division of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality of the State of Wyoming.  The purpose of this proposal is to combine the existing Smith Ranch Mine and Highland Uranium Project (SRH) permits (Permits 633 and 603) and add as an amendment, the Reynolds Ranch property (approximately 8,565 acres) under a single permit i.e., Permit 633 when the amendment is approved.
Prior to mining, the groundwater in the production zone will be reclassified by the Water Quality Division of the Department of Environmental Quality, as Class V (Mineral Commercial).
Written objections to the proposed mining operation and proposed reclassification of groundwater/aquifer exemption must be received before the close of business, February 10, 2014 (date revised).
Wyoming DEQ approved the consolidation of Permit 603 into Permit 633 and the amendment of new lands (Reynolds Ranch) on March 10, 2014.

NRC issues Notice of Violation to Cameco for deficiencies at Smith Ranch - Highland in situ leach uranium mine

"[...] on January 23, 2013, two sub-contractor welders failed to work under a Radiation Work Permit while removing overhead beams in the former yellowcake dryer room in the Highlands Central Processing Plant. This work was non-routine with the potential for exposure to residual yellowcake for which no written operating procedure already existed. Consequently, both individuals received intakes of uranium exceeding the action level of 15 micrograms of uranium per liter of urine (ug/L), as confirmed by positive bioassays, while working in this area. The bioassay results were 22.2 and 24.7 ug/L."
(NRC Inspection Report 040-08964/13-001 and Notice of Violation, July 17, 2013)

Wyoming DEQ inspection finds "potential for violations" at Cameco's Smith Ranch - Highland in situ leach uranium mine

"The inspection of the header houses in Wellfield F provided insight into the extent of the casing leak issues identified in the Administrative Order issued in August 2000. It became apparent during the inspection that not only were many wells identified with casing breaks and joint failures through the Administrative Order, but also, many pipelines and bell holes were affected with many infrastructure failures requiring replacements. This is a potential violation of the Noncoal Rules and Regulations [...].
There are numerous header houses in Wellfield F that indicate a bleed is not being maintained to control the fluids of the mining zone in many pattern areas. This is indicated where the header houses are stripped of pipes and connections to the wellfields. [...] A review of the excursion history in the wellfield indicates two confirmed excursions; one in 2002 and one in 2009. If these excursions were the result of failure to maintain the bleed in the wellfield, they could be perceived as violations of this regulation. [...]" [emphasis added]
> Download June 2012 Inspection Report external link, July 28, 2012

License Renewal for Smith Ranch (Wyoming) in-situ leach site

On Sep. 19, 2012, NRC announced an Opportunity To Request a Hearing and To Petition for Leave To Intervene.
Requests for a hearing or leave to intervene must be filed by November 19, 2012.
> Federal Register Volume 77, Number 182 (Wednesday, September 19, 2012)] p. 58181-58185 (download full text external link)
> Access Docket ID NRC-2012-0214 external link

By letter dated July 5, 2012, NRC accepted Cameco's revised license renewal application for review.

On June 15, 2012, NRC released Cameco's license renewal application for its Smith Ranch in situ leach uranium mine.
> Download license renewal application external link

Wyoming DEQ issues Notice of Violation to Cameco for deficienies identified at Smith Ranch in situ leach uranium mine - Cameco agrees to pay $20,000

"It was discovered that an improved road, two monitoring wells and a water supply pond were located outside the permit boundary in Section 7, T35N, R74W. The pond is not approved as a water supply pond in Permit 633. In addition, the monitoring wells were noted to have insufficient covers to prohibit the introduction of undesirable material."
> Download Notice of Violation, Docket No. 4998-12, May 18, 2012 external link (PDF - WY DEQ)
In a settlement agreement concluded on Nov. 1, 2012, Cameco agrees to submit an application to amend Permit 633 to include the off-site affected areas into the permit, among others. Cameco further agrees to pay US$ 20,000 "to fund a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) related to insitu uranium mining".
> Download Settlement Agreement, Docket No. 4998-12, Nov. 1, 2012 external link (PDF - WY DEQ)

Cameco requests exemption from groundwater restoration schedules at Smith Ranch in situ leach uranium mine

By letter dated March 15, 2012 external link, Cameco requested from NRC an exemption from the requirement to complete groundwater restoration within 24 months, because "the imposition of such precise, prescriptive timeframes to groundwater restoration in aquifers that are part of natural systems is not practicable/reasonably achievable".
By letter dated June 22, 2012 external link, NRC refused to review the exemption request, since it is incomplete. NRC notes in particular the missing of a description of how the exemption would not endanger life, property, or common defense and security, and, how it would be in the public interest. NRC explicitly expresses its dissatisfaction with the progress of groundwater restoration at the Smith Ranch site:

Cameco plans to test extraction of uranium from ion exchange resins generated at phosphate mining facilities

On Aug. 20, 2013, NRC held a public meeting with Cameco Resources and Urtek to discuss licensing issues related to recovery of uranium from phosphoric acid and processing of equivalent feed. Urtek external link is developer and owner of the patented PhosEnergy Process; the company is owned by Cameco (73%) and Uranium Equities Ltd external link (27%).

On May 30, 2012, Cameco Resources sent an Advanced Notification of Processing of Equivalent Feed to NRC. Cameco plans to perform bench tests with resins from "an industrial phosphoric acid circuit" at a pilot plant at Smith Ranch. (ADAMS Acc. No. ML12157A071)

On Oct. 27, 2011, Cameco Resources' Safety and Environmental Review Panel (SERP) approved a test to determine if resins loaded with uranium from a phosphate plant could be effectively stripped at the Smith Ranch-Highland Central Processing Plant.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a summary RIS regarding equivalent feed in the Federal Register September 30, 2011 for comment. The test cannot take place until the RIS is approved and officially released by the NRC.
(Semi-Annual Effluent and Environmental Monitoring Report, July 1 through December 31, 2011, ADAMS Acc. No. ML12087A157)

Uranerz signs agreement with Cameco on processing of Nichols Ranch resin at Smith Ranch

On Nov. 30, 2011, Uranerz Energy Corporation announced that it has signed a processing agreement with Cameco Resources, a wholly-owned Wyoming subsidiary of Cameco Corporation. Under the agreement, Uranerz will deliver uranium-loaded resin produced from the Company's Nichols Ranch in-situ recovery mining operations to Cameco's Smith Ranch Highland uranium mine for final processing into dried uranium concentrate packaged for shipping to a converter.

Many compliance concerns identified during inspection of Cameco's Highland / Smith Ranch in situ leach uranium mine

"Through the April and June 2011 inspections of the permits, the LQD identified many compliance concerns with regard to drill hole and well abandonment, open and uncapped drill holes and wells, topsoil salvage and protection, erosion and sediment control, drilling without notification or approval of notification and compliance with the wellfield restoration schedule. Additional concerns identified through self-reporting of missed sampling events, failure to report a significant spill, abatement of spills and surety deficiencies has compounded the compliance issues from the inspections."
> Download June 2011 Inspection Report & Compliance Concerns - Cameco Resources, Permits 603 & 633 external link (Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Oct. 21, 2011)

Numerous violations identified during inspection of Cameco's Highland / Smith Ranch in situ leach uranium mine

During an NRC inspection conducted on August 29 through September 1, 2011, three violations of NRC requirements were identified: "The violations are related, a) to your failure to store byproduct waste bins within a restricted area, as required by a license condition, b) your failure to provide the NRC with copies of excursion and spill that had been reported to the State of Wyoming, as required by a license condition, and c) failure to have an alarm to notify wellfield operators that an exceedence had occurred, as required by the license application."
> Download NRC Inspection Report 040-08964/11-002 and Notice of Violation, Oct. 25, 2011 external link

Numerous deficiencies identified during inspection of abandoned drill holes at Cameco's Highland / Smith Ranch in situ leach uranium mine

During an inspection of abandoned drill holes conducted on April 20 and 21, 2011, at Cameco Resources Inc.'s Highland / Smith Ranch in situ leach mine site, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality identified several compliance issues which are recommended for enforcement actions. Among these are in particular (emphasis added): > Download: April 2011 Inspection Report, Cameco Resources, Permits 603 & 633 external link, Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, June 13, 2011 (18.1MB PDF - ADAMS Acc. No. ML11173A106)

Cameco ordered to officially report spill at Smith Ranch in situ leach uranium mine

In a letter dated May 25, 2011, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality ordered Cameco to officially report a spill in mine unit K-North that Cameco had considered as not reportable.

Cameco study claims solubility type classification of yellow cake from in situ leaching is 100% "fast"

> View here

Wyoming DEQ invites comment on modified permit for deep disposal wells at Smith Ranch/Highland ISL mine

Power Resources, Inc., dba Cameco Resources located at the Smith Ranch-Highland Disposal Wellfield in Converse, Wyoming. This permit modifies an existing permit for seven Class 1 non-hazardous waste disposal wells. This modification is undertaken at the Administrator's initiative primarily to require a more relevant list of analytes and parameters for the quarterly injectate analyses. The financial assurance is clarified and other modifications are summarized in the Public Notice.
The public is invited to comment on this draft permit until March 17, 2011.
> Download Public Notice Feb. 15, 2011 external link (170k PDF) · Draft Permit 09-054 external link (514k PDF)

Cameco submits license renewal application for Smith Ranch-Highland uranium in situ leach mine

> Download license renewal application, Aug. 12, 2010 external link (ADAMS Acc. No. ML102360313)
On Jan. 19, 2011, NRC notified Cameco that "the staff is suspending its review of the LRA [license renewal application] and will provide PRI an opportunity to correctly address the groundwater restoration standards, timeliness in decommissioning requirements".

NRC cites Cameco for failure to decommission in-situ leach mine units at Smith Ranch in time

On Nov. 16, 2009, NRC cited Power Resources, Inc. for failure to decommission mine units within 24 months:
"[...] the licensee failed to complete decommissioning of Mine Units 1 and C within 24 months and failed to request an alternate decommissioning schedule. Specifically, the licensee began decommissioning of Mine Unit 1 during July 2006 and Mine Unit C during May 1999, both of which continue to be decommissioned, and the licensee had not requested an alternate decommissioning schedule until August 13, 2009."
> Download NRC inspection report and Notice of Violation, Nov. 16, 2009 external link (ADAMS Acc. No. ML093200711)

Cameco requests alternate schedules for completion of groundwater restoration up to 2025 at Smith Ranch ISL mine

On Aug. 13, 2009, Cameco Resources sent a Request for Alternate Schedule for Completion of Decommissioning (Groundwater Restoration) at its Smith Ranch - Highland site to NRC. Due to disposal water capacity limits, the completion of restoration at seven wellfields is expected to be delayed for several years, including up to the year 2025 in one case. (ADAMS Acc. No. ML092330083 external link)

State invites public comment on proposed license for deep disposal wells at Smith Ranch/Highland ISL mine

The State of Wyoming intends to issue an underground injection control permit for the disposal of non-hazardous industrial wastewater at the Smith Ranch/Highland ISL uranium mine. The wells will inject industrial wastes, including uranium processing wastes, into the Tekla, Teapot and Parkman Formations. The wells covered by this permit inject at depths between 8,024 to 9,560 feet below ground surface. The injection volumes are limited to a maximum of 3,600 barrels per day per well representing a total maximum injection volume of 25,200 barrels (1,058,400 gallons = 4,006 cubic metres) per day.
Public comments on the proposed operation, the proposed groundwater classification, and the State's intent, are invited on or before September 8, 2009.

> Download DEQ Public Notice Aug. 2009 external link (PDF)
> Download Draft Permit August 2009 external link (PDF)

NRC staff finds no problem with groundwater impacts of existing in-situ leach uranium mines

> View here

NRC issues Notice of Violation to Cameco Resources for deficienies identified at Smith Ranch ISL mine

Based on the results of an unannounced inspection conducted on September 23-25, 2008, the NRC has determined that three Severity Level IV violations of NRC requirements occurred at the Smith Ranch facility. The violations involve > Download Inspection Report 040-08964/08-002 and Notice of Violation (Nov. 25, 2008) external link (ADAMS ML083310300)

DEQ issues Notice of Violation to Cameco Resources for deficienies identified during abandoned drill hole inspection

On Sep. 3, 2008, Cameco agreed to pay a $50,000 settlement.

> Download: Notice of Violation NOV #4314-08, July 17, 2008 external link (PDF) · alternate source external link
> Download: Inspection Report, July 7, 2008 external link (PDF) · Photos external link (4.3M PDF)
> Download: Settlement Agreement, Aug. 29, 2008 external link (PDF)

Cameco Resources requests license amendment for the processing of third-party resin at its Smith Ranch - Highland in-situ leach mine

On Sep. 15, 2009, NRC issued the requested License Amendment.

On Aug. 20, 2009, NRC issued a Notice of Availability of Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for License Amendment for Receipt and Processing of Third Party Ion Exchange Resin at the Smith Ranch - Highland in-situ leach mine.
Federal Register: August 20, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 160) p. 42129-42130 (download full text external link)

On Aug. 12, 2009, NRC staff released its Final Environmental Assessment (EA) for the processing of third-party resin at Cameco Resources' Smith Ranch - Highland in-situ leach mine. The EA contains a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).

On July 23, 2008, NRC staff "determined that the application is not sufficiently complete, and is therefore unacceptable, for the purpose of conducting a detailed technical review. The application is deficient because of the lack of an environmental analysis of the potential impacts of transportation of third-party resins to the SR-HUP for processing and subsequent return to the third party."

On June 19, 2008, Cameco Resources requested a license amendment for the processing of third-party resin at its Smith Ranch - Highland Uranium Project. According to Cameco Resources, processing of resin from third parties will not exceed currently approved levels of activity in terms of pounds processed annually or flow rates for production solutions from wellfields.

Wyoming DEQ denounces poor environmental compliance at Smith Ranch/Highland in situ leach mine, issues Notice of Violation to PRI for failure to conduct concurrent reclamation

On March 10, 2008, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a Notice of Violation to PRI for failure to conduct concurrent reclamation and to follow approved permits at the Smith Ranch/Highland in situ leach mine:
a. The permit indicates that "An updated schedule will be supplied with the annual report if the mining or restoration schedule varies from Table 3-1." The timetable commitments in the permit are not consistent with wellfield status. Therefore, the table in the annual report is the schedule that PRI is committed to for wellfield status. Based on this table, PRI is not in compliance with their restoration schedules for Wellfields 2, 3, and 4/4A. The annual report text indicates that Wellfield 2 will continue to be in production, while the annual report schedule referred to in the permit shows that it will be in restoration in 2008. Wellfields 3 and 4/4a should be in restoration instead of production.
b. The permit states that it generally takes "three years for uranium production, and three years for aquifer restoration." Actual times for wellfield production and restoration are, thus far, 2-3 times longer than permit commitments. [emphasis added]

The Notice of Violation is based on an investigation conducted in 2007. The Investigation Report, dated Nov. 21, 2007, also lists a number of further issues. Here some excerpts:

On July 10, 2008, Cameco announced that a settlement agreement has been reached with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality. The agreement comprises several steps to accelerate restoration, and increases the bond for Smith Ranch and Highland to $ 80 million, among others. Cameco agrees to pay a $900,000 penalty, $400,000 of which will be suspended, if Cameco satisfies the terms of the agreement. In addition, Cameco will pay $500,000 "to fund future, unspecified Supplemental Environmental Projects".

> Download Notice of Violation and Investigation Report, March 10, 2008 external link (NRC ADAMS Acc. No. ML080840311)
> Download NOV #4231-08 (PDF) external link · Report of Investigation Nov. 21, 2007 (2.6M PDF) external link (WY DEQ)
> Download Settlement Agreement July 8, 2008 (254k PDF) external link (WY DEQ)

> See also PRI Highland decommissioning issues

NRC issues Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for in situ leach satellite facility at Smith Ranch

On Dec. 28, 2007, NRC issued an Environmental Assessment for the construction and operation of in situ leach satellite plant SR-2 at Smith Ranch. "On the basis of this EA, NRC has concluded that there are no significant environmental impacts and the licensing action does not warrant the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement."

Federal Register: January 8, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 5) p. 1367-1370 (download full text external link)
> View docket NRC-2008-0011 external link (regulations.gov)
On Jan. 10, 2008, NRC issued the requested license amendment.

NRC issues Notice of Violation to PRI for appointment of unqualified radiation safety officer at Smith Ranch

On Dec. 11, 2007, NRC issued a Notice of Violation to PRI for the appointment of an individual to the position of radiation safety officer at Smith Ranch, although the individual did not possess the education or relevant experience requirements.

Cameco to increase production from Crow Butte and Smith Ranch-Highland by 70%

On Dec. 4, 2007, Cameco announced that it is targeting to increase the combined production at its Crow Butte and Smith Ranch-Highland in-situ leach operations by 70% to 4.6 million pounds U3O8 [1,769 t U] annually by 2011. The planned production increase requires the restart of the idle Highland uranium recovery plant.

Wyoming DEQ issues Notice of Violation to PRI on deep disposal well spill at Smith Ranch ISL site

On Nov. 28, 2007, The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality issued a Notice of Violation to Power Resources Inc. based on the deep disposal well spill reported by PRI on August 24, 2007 to the Land Quality Division (LQD).

> Download NOV #4164-07 external link (PDF) · Settlement Agreement external link (PDF)

Uranium One Inc. concludes toll milling agreement with Power Resources Inc.

On Aug. 21, 2007, Uranium One Inc. announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Power Resources Inc. (PRI), the U.S. subsidiary of Cameco Corporation, whereby PRI will process uranium bearing ion exchange resins from Uranium One's owned and operated in situ recovery (ISR) projects in Wyoming.
Under the terms of the agreement, Uranium One will transport uranium bearing ion exchange resins from its uranium mining operations to PRI's Smith Ranch-Highland uranium facilities, or an alternate facility owned and operated by PRI or an affiliate of PRI located in the States of Wyoming or Nebraska, for processing and production of up to 1.4 million pounds [538 t U] per year of dried uranium concentrates. PRI must amend their operating licenses to accept uranium bearing resins from Uranium One. This amendment is subject to approval by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Initial Uranium One production is expected to be sourced from the Moore Ranch Project, located approximately 50 miles north of the Smith Ranch-Highland complex, with additional production expected to be sourced from the Allemand-Ross, Barge and Ludeman projects which are also located in close proximity to Smith Ranch-Highland.

Southwest area deep disposal well project

On Jan. 22, 2007, PRI submitted to Wyoming DEQ an application for a Southwest area deep disposal well. This well will inject wastewater from an in-situ leaching uranium mine and other industrial wastes into the Lance Formation. The well covered by this permit injects at depths between 4,750 to 7,000 feet [1448 - 2134 m] below ground surface. The waste contains uranium residuals and significant amounts of Total Dissolved Solids and other contaminants. The maximum injection pressure as measured at the wellhead is limited to 1,156 psi [79.7 bar] for SWA DW No. 1. The injection volumes are limited to 5,143 barrels [818 cubic metres] per day.
Public comments were due Oct. 1, 2007.

Reynolds Ranch ISL project to be included in Smith Ranch license

> See here

Smith Ranch acquired by Cameco

Cameco Corporation announced on June 19, 2002, that it has agreed, through its subsidiaries, to purchase the Smith Ranch uranium in situ leach (ISL) mine and various other ISL properties located in Wyoming from BHP Billiton’s subsidiary Rio Algom Mining LLC (Rio Algom).
The agreement is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close within 45 days. (Cameco release June 19, 2002)

License Renewal for Smith Ranch (Wyoming) in-situ leach site

Federal Register: May 4, 2001, p. 22620-22622 (download full notice external link):
"SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) proposes to renew NRC Source Material License SUA-1548 to authorize the licensee, Rio Algom Mining Corporation (RAMC), to continue commercial operations of its in situ leach (ISL) Rio Algom Smith Ranch Uranium Recovery Project in Converse County, Wyoming. This license currently authorizes RAMC to receive, acquire, possess, and transfer uranium at the Rio Algom Smith Ranch Project, which is located approximately 17 miles (27 Kilometers) Northeast of Glenrock, Wyoming. An Environmental Assessment (EA) was performed by the NRC staff in support of its review of RAMC renewal request, in accordance with the requirements of 10 CFR part 51. The conclusion of the Environmental Assessment is a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the proposed licensing action."

License violations and reportable events at Smith Ranch in-situ leaching site

(details available through ADAMS external link, Docket No. 04008964)

> For reports on many more spills, download WY DEQ's spill databases external link!

Startup of Smith Ranch in-situ leaching facility

Commercial operations have started at Rio Algom's Smith Ranch, Wyoming, in situ leach project on 20th June, 1997. [UI News Briefing 97/26]


North Butte / Brown Ranch (ISL), Campbell County

(satellite to the Smith Ranch facility)

> View deposit data

NRC issues temporary exemption from financial assurance requirements for Cameco's North Butte in situ leach mine

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing a temporary exemption from certain NRC financial assurance requirements to Cameco Resources (Cameco) in response to its annual financial assurance update for the North Butte satellite to the Smith Ranch Highland Uranium In-Situ Recovery (ISR) project. Issuance of this temporary exemption will not remove the requirement for Cameco to provide adequate financial assurance through an approved mechanism, but will allow the NRC staff to further evaluate whether the State of Wyoming's separate account provision for financial assurance instruments it holds is consistent with the NRC's requirement for a standby trust agreement.
> Federal Register Volume 79, Number 109 (Friday, June 6, 2014) p. 32773-32775 (download full text external link)
> Access Docket ID NRC-2014-0092 external link

State invites comment on draft permit for deep disposal wells of Cameco's North Butte uranium in situ leach mine (Wyoming)

On Dec. 24, 2013, Wyoming DEQ isseud a notice is to inform the public that the State of Wyoming is proposing the re-issuance of permit #11-468 for Cameco Resources' North Butte Underground Disposal injection facility. This permit renewal proposes to continue previously authorized injection, propose three (3) new injection wells, request an EPA aquifer exemption for the injected formations, update areas of review and injection pressures, and bring this permit into conformance with other recently issued Class I ISR permits.
The public is invited to comment on this draft permit until January 22, 2014.
> Download PublicNotice Dec. 20, 2013 external link (PDF)
> Download DraftPermit external link (PDF)
> Download Supplemental Information external link (PDF)

On June 24, 2013, Cameco notified NRC of its intent to submit an amendment application for an expansion area (Brown Ranch Tract 1) of its North Butte operations late 2013 early 2014.

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License violations and reportable events at North Butte in-situ leaching site


Moore Ranch (ISL), Campbell County

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Development of Moore Ranch uranium in situ leach mine suspended - six months after receiving license

"As we discussed, development activities at the Moore Ranch ISR Project were temporally suspended in April 2011, to focus company and contractor resources on development activities at the Willow Creek Project. No construction activities have been undertaken at the Moore Ranch site. Activities undertaken at the site during the first six months of 2011 were limited to well drilling and completion of the perimeter ring monitoring wells, underlying monitoring wells, overlying monitoring wells and baseline restoration wells in the Wellfield #2 area." (Uranium One letter to NRC, Aug. 31, 2011 external link)

On May 31, 2013, Uranium One notified the NRC that the NRC should suspend further licensing action on the 2011 amendment application until further notice.

Wyoming DEQ invites public comment on draft permit for deep disposal wells at Moore Ranch uranium in situ leach mine

Draft Permit 08-314 - Moore Ranch DW # 1,2,3,4 UIC Class I non-hazardous waste disposal wells. This facility is for four (4) proposed wells. Applicant: Uranium One Americas, Inc.; Location: Campbell County, T41-42N, R75W. The public is invited to comment on the draft permit until January 29, 2011.
> Download Public Notice Dec. 30, 2010 external link (PDF - WY DEQ)
> Download Draft Permit 08-314 external link (PDF - WY DEQ)
> Download Fact Sheet external link (PDF - WY DEQ)

NRC approves transfer of ownership of the Moore Ranch ISL mine to Atomredmetzoloto

On Nov. 23, 2010, NRC approved the change of control of the Moore Ranch ISL mine from Uranium One Americas, Inc. to Atomredmetzoloto.
> Download NRC release Nov. 24, 2010 external link (PDF)
> Federal Register: December 7, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 234) p. 76050-76051 (download full text external link)

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Nichols Ranch (ISL), Campbell and Johnson Counties

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Nichols Ranch uranium in situ leach mine sends first uranium-loaded resin to Cameco's Smith Ranch plant for processing

On June 16, 2014, Uranerz Energy Corporation announced that it has sent its first shipment of uranium-loaded resin from the Nichols Ranch ISR Uranium Project to Cameco Resources' Smith Ranch uranium processing facilities for final processing into uranium concentrates pursuant to a toll processing agreement between the two companies.

Uranerz submits license application for Jane Dough uranium in situ leach project as extension of Nichols Ranch mine

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NRC issues exemption to the financial assurance requirements for Nichols Ranch uranium in situ leach mine

NRC issues temporary exemption:
> Federal Register Volume 79, Number 174 (Tuesday, September 9, 2014) p. 53464-53466 (download full text external link)

NRC issues exemption:
> Federal Register Volume 79, Number 24 (Wednesday, February 5, 2014) p. 6935-6936 (download full text external link)

> Access Docket ID NRC-2014-0020 external link

EPA approves aquifer exemption for deep disposal well at Nichols Ranch uranium in situ leach mine

On Nov. 27, 2013, EPA approved an aquifer exemption for the Class I injection well NICH DW-1, as the formations concerned (Teckla and Parkman) are not currently used as a source of drinking water, nor likely to be used in the future.

BLM issues Environmental Assessment on Hank Unit of Nichols Ranch uranium in situ leach mining project for public review

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Buffalo Field Office (BFO) announces the availability of an environmental assessment (EA) on the Hank Unit of the Nichols Ranch uranium in situ recovery (ISR) mining project for public review. The Hank Unit project area is located approximately 40 miles southwest of Gillette, Wyo.
The Hank Unit encompasses approximately 2,250 acres with proposed disturbances of about 155 acres. BLM administered surface lands are approximately 303 acres with 35 acres of proposed disturbance. Proposed facilities within the Hank Unit include well fields for injection, production and monitoring, wellhead houses, a satellite processing facility, an access road network and pipeline system. Final reclamation and abandonment of the site is included in the plan.
Uranerz Energy Corporation filed a Plan of Operations to use BLM surface within the Hank Unit of their Nichols Ranch In-Situ Uranium Mine for which, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a Material License in July 2011. The BLM has prepared an EA to analyze the environmental effects of in-situ mining on public lands.
The 30-day public comment period runs through July 24, 2013.
> View BLM release June 24, 2013 external link
> Download Environmental Assessment, June 2013 external link

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License Violations and reportable events at Nichols Ranch uranium in situ leach mine


Sweetwater uranium mill (Sweetwater County)

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Kennecott requests another 5-year postponement of initiation of decommissioning of Sweetwater uranium mill

By letter dated June 1, 2011, Kennecott for the fourth time in a row requested a 5-year postponement of initiation of decommissioning of the Sweetwater uranium mill in Wyoming. The Sweetwater mill facility was shut down and has been under care and maintenance (stand-by status) since April 1983.
By letter dated Oct. 4, 2011, NRC staff notified Kennecott that it has determined that a fourth 5-year postponement should be granted.

Kennecott performing restart evaluation of Sweetwater mill; mill for sale again

On March 20, 2008, Kennecott Uranium Co. notified NRC of its intended applications for license amendments. Kennecott considers the construction of a resin elution facility at the site, and, it is currently performing a restart evaluation of the mill, which might involve several modifications requiring license amendments. Moreover, Kennecott said that the mill is for sale.

Proposed alternate feed processing at Sweetwater uranium mill

Proposed processing of water treatment plant resins at Sweetwater uranium mill

Kennecott denied right to store alternate feed material on site without license amendment
"In its letter, KUC makes several arguments in support of its position that it should be allowed to store the WTIX resin onsite without first being granted a license amendment to do so. If it is later authorized to resume its milling operations, KUC intends to process the WTIX resin as alternate feed material and dispose the resultant 11e.(2) byproduct material in its onsite tailings cell.
As discussed below, because the resin is not natural ore already present at the site, and because KUC is not presently authorized to conduct milling, the requested action requires a license amendment."
(NRC letter to Kennecott, November 30, 2007, ADAMS Accession No. ML072400149 external link)

Kennecott wants to store alternate feed material on site of currently idle Sweetwater mill for later processing
"Kennecott Uranium Company (KUC) wishes to store a small volume (approximately 8,000 cubic feet [227 cubic metres]) of ion exchange resin loaded with uranium at the Sweetwater Uranium Project beginning in September 2007. These loaded resins contain 1% to 3% natural uranium. These resins would be stored until such time as licensed operations are resumed at the site, at which point they would be eluted (processed), the uranium removed from them, precipitated as yellowcake and the yellowcake product dried and sold. [...] KUC believes that these materials can be stored on site without the need for a license amendment pending resumption of operations pursuant to NRC-approved license modifications [...]"
(Kennecott letter to NRC dated June 10, 2007 - ADAMS Accession No. ML071660298 external link)

 

Sweetwater uranium mill no longer for sale

SXR Uranium One Inc. had been selected by Rio Tinto Energy America, Inc. ("RTEA"), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto plc, as the preferred bidder for RTEA's Sweetwater Uranium Mill and associated Green Mountain uranium properties located in south-central Wyoming. (SXR July 10, 2006)
On Jan. 8, 2007, however, sxr Uranium One Inc. announced that Rio Tinto Energy America, Inc. has decided to withdraw the Sweetwater uranium mill and related properties from sale in order to re-evaluate whether these should be retained and developed.

 

Kennecott requests another 5-year postponement of initiation of decommissioning of Sweetwater uranium mill

By letter dated June 7, 2006, Kennecott for the third time requested a 5-year postponement of initiation of decommissioning of the Sweetwater uranium mill in Wyoming. The Sweetwater mill facility was shut down and has been under care and maintenance (stand-by status) since April 1983.
On Sep. 25, 2006, NRC staff has determined that a third five-year postponement should be granted. In its review, NRC staff determined that this postponement is not detrimental to public health and the environment and is in the public interest, as discussed below. Furthermore, a letter from NRC staff to the National Mining Association dated February 16, 1996, stated that there is no limit to the number of extensions that can be granted.

 

Miracles of dose calculation: Sweetwater uranium mill reduces dose to nearest resident below background

Kennecott calculates the semiannual dose to the nearest resident for the second half of 2005 at 449.28 mrem [4.4928 mSv] (mainly based on radon inhalation and external gamma exposure), while the background dose was determined in 1994 at 569.9 mrem [5.699 mSv].
Kennecott concludes: "The net (dose to the nearest resident minus background dose) annual TEDE from the licensed operations for the second half of 2005 is 0 mrem/year, which is below the 100 mrem/year [1 mSv/year] dose limit to members of the general public."
More precisely, Kennecott should have stated that, based on its calculations, the licensed operations reduce the semiannual dose to the nearest resident by 120.62 mrem [1.2062 mSv]. But, apparently, this appeared inappropriate to Kennecott?

Source: Kennecott Uranium Company, Sweetwater Uranium Project: Airborne Effluents – 2005 Semiannual 10 CFR 40.65 Report, Source Material License SUA-1350, 27 February 2006

 

Catchment basin reclamation

NRC releases Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for catchment basin reclamation at Sweetwater uranium mill

Federal Register: May 23, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 98) p. 29543-29544 (download full text external link)
The requested license renewal was issued on May 26, 2005.

NRC issues Draft Environmental Assessment for catchment basin reclamation at Sweetwater uranium mill

On March 2, 2005, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a Draft Environmental Assessment for the reclamation of the catchment basin at the idle Sweetwater uranium mill.
During mill operations (Feb. 1981 - April 1983), fluids from the mill's counter-current decantation and solvent extraction processes were discharged to a catchment basin located 305 meters west of the lined tailings impoundment. The catchment basin is approximately 42.7 meters square, and 3.7 meters deep. The basin sides were lined with concrete, while the bottom was unlined. Organics, metals, and radionuclides (byproduct material) have slowly migrated through the soil beneath the basin into the underlying Battle Spring Aquifer. Primary contaminants are diesel range organics (DRO), consistent with the kerosene used for solvent extraction, and radionuclides (Ra-226 and natural uranium (U-nat)).
Remediation will involve the excavation of soils exhibiting DRO concentrations in excess of 2,300 mg/kg (Wyoming Voluntary Remediation Program standard). Kennecott expects to excavate approximately 91,747 cubic meters of petroleum contaminated soil including approximately 20,261 cubic meters of material containing Ra-226 in excess of the standards found in Criterion 6(6), 10 CFR 40, Appendix A. Contaminated soils will be transported to the existing tailings impoundment for disposal.
After completing the soil excavation program, contaminated ground water will be extracted and conveyed to the lined tailings impoundment.

NRC issues 10-year license renewal for idle Sweetwater uranium mill

By letter dated May 25, 2004, Kennecott Uranium Co. requested a 10-year renewal of the Source Material License for its Sweetwater Uranium Project. The uranium mill is currently in standby mode.

On July 28, 2004, NRC issued a related Notice of opportunity for hearing.
Federal Register: July 28, 2004 (Vol. 69, No. 144) p. 45087-45088 (download full text external link)

The requested license renewal was issued on May 26, 2005.

NRC approves another 5-year postponement of initiation of decommissioning in view of Bush's Energy Plan

By letter dated July 17, 2001, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the second time approved a 5-year postponement of initiation of decommissioning of the Sweetwater uranium mill in Wyoming. The Sweetwater mill facility was shut down and has been under care and maintenance (stand-by status) since April 1983. Excerpt from the NRC letter:
"The continued existence of the mill is in the public interest as it is one of only six uranium mills remaining in the United States and the only one remaining in Wyoming. There is renewed interest in the United States in nuclear power as clearly expressed in the National Energy Policy external link of May 2001. Nuclear power plants have increased power output the past several years, several plants have recently renewed operating licenses for 20 years, and new facilities are being considered. In addition, statutes oblige the Secretary of Energy to encourage the use of domestic uranium. Maintaining the domestic capacity to provide the raw material for nuclear power is in the public interest."

Kennecott sole owner of Sweetwater mill

Until September 11, 2000, Crested Corp. / US Energy owned a 50% interest in the Green Mountain Mining Venture (GMMV), but sold their interest to Kennecott.

NRC approves resumption of mill operation

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued an operating licence for the Sweetwater uranium mill in Wyoming. (U.S. Energy Aug 31, 1999)

See also:
Federal Register: August 12, 1999 (Vol. 64, No. 155), p. 44057-44059 (download full notice external link):

"SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) proposes to renew NRC Source Material License SUA-1350 to authorize the licensee, Kennecott Uranium Company (KUC), to resume commercial milling operations at the Sweetwater facility, and to approve the plan for future reclamation of the mill facility, existing and proposed new tailings impoundment, and the proposed evaporation ponds, according to the 1997 Reclamation Plan, as amended." [...]

> See also WY DEQ information external link

 

License violations and reportable events at Sweetwater mill site

 


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