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(last updated 16 May 2018)
> See also: DOE Uranium Leasing Program
Uranium exploration in Park County is opposed by Save Our South Park Water 2008
"Future development of some mining claims, however, could affect individual Gunnison sage-grouse or populations. Future development of uranium mining claims in the San Miguel population area, in particular, could result in impacts on this population of Gunnison sage-grouse and its habitat. This area includes the Uravan Mineral Belt, which has historically been the most productive uranium region in Colorado, and provides an important national reserve of uranium. The Department of Energy, which is responsible for managing uranium leasing and development, is currently in the process of evaluating the continuation of existing uranium leases under a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact statement. In recent years, uranium mining activity in this area has nearly ceased due to a decrease in global uranium prices. One active uranium mine occurs in occupied habitat in the San Miguel population. However, this mine is currently not in production. Construction of the first conventional uranium mill in 25 years, the Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill, is proposed near, but outside of, occupied habitat in the San Miguel Basin. However, this mill may not be built until uranium prices increase. Such a project may result in indirect impacts on Gunnison sage-grouse, though we cannot predict the scope or magnitude of those impacts." [...]> Federal Register Volume 79, Number 224 (Thursday, November 20, 2014) p. 69191-69310 (download full text )
"If uranium prices increase in the future, development in the San Miguel Basin could potentially pose a threat to this already small and vulnerable population of Gunnison sage-grouse." [emphasis added]
> See also: Fish and Wildlife Service issues Final Rule on Threatened Status for Gunnison Sage-Grouse
> Download Uranium Mining, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation in Gateway, Colorado , Sonoran Institute, July 2009 (3.6MB PDF)
BLM issues Scoping Notice for expansion of Prince Albert Mine:
On Nov. 16, 2012, BLM's Uncompahgre Field Office issued a scoping notice "seeking input regarding a mining proposal by Rimrock Exploration and Development, Inc. to expand the Prince Albert Mine, an existing authorized uranium and vanadium mining operation from a mining notice to a mining plan of operations".
Comments should be submitted no later than December 17, 2012.
> View BLM Uncompahgre Field Office NEPA information
> Download Scoping Notice Nov. 16, 2012 (630k PDF - BLM)
> Download Mine Plan of Operations and Reclamation Plan for Underground Mining, Oct. 9, 2012 (13.4M PDF - BLM)
The Centennial mine project is opposed by Coloradoans Against Resource Destruction , see also powertechexposed.com .
Centennial uranium mine project "quietly revived":
In an interview published in MiningFeeds, Alex Molyneux, Chairman of Azarga Uranium made the following statement, among others:
"Centennial is NOT on the back burner I know people have said such but we quietly revived the project in 2014. We have prepared a couple of different mine plans for it and will be revealing our plan for it probably in Q2 2015." (MiningFeeds Jan. 6, 2015)
State terminates consideration of baseline plan for Centennial uranium mine project: Colorado mining regulators have shut down Powertech's efforts to establish a baseline groundwater characterization plan for the now defunct Centennial uranium project. In a January 7 letter to Powertech Vice President Richard Blubaugh, the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety informed Powertech that the file for the project has been terminated due to the expiration of regulatory time limitations and the fact that there has been no correspondence related to the plan between Powertech and the Division since April 17, 2009. "Quite clearly the project was abandoned by Powertech." (powertechexposed.com Feb. 3, 2014)
Powertech writes down value of Centennial uranium mine project On Nov. 11, 2013, Powertech Uranium announced that, as a result of the acquisition of 60% of the project by Azarga, the company determined the value of the Centennial Project to be $2,500,000, which resulted in an impairment charge of $12,344,868 during the third quarter of 2013.
Hongkong company acquires majority interest in Powertech's Centennial uranium mine project:
Azarga Resources Limited (Hongkong) recently purchased approximately 17.5% of the issued and outstanding common shares in the capital of Powertech Uranium Corp. on an undiluted basis from The K2 Principal Fund L.P.
In addition, Azarga has agreed to purchase a 60% interest in Powertech's Centennial project located in Weld County, Colorado for a total purchase price of $1,500,000 to be paid over two years pursuant to a letter agreement between Azarga and Powertech dated July 31, 2013. Powertech will retain a 40% interest in the property. (Powertech Aug. 1, 2013)
> See also: Powertech sells 60% of Centennial project to Hong Kong investment firm; inexperienced Chinese company becomes largest Powertech shareholder (powertechexposed.com Oct. 13, 2013)
EPA suspends all work on Centennial project licensing, including aquifer pump test: On Nov. 8, 2011, EPA notified stakeholders that "The EPA Region 8 Underground Injection Control Program has suspended all work on the Powertech Centennial site, including the Class V injection well permit, at the request of applicant Powertech. The proposed Class V permit is for the reinjection of groundwater pumped to the surface during an aquifer pump test." (powertechexposed.com)
Powertech dumps part of Centennial project: On July 5, 2011, Powertech Uranium Corp. announced the termination of an option agreement dated June 30, 2009 with Howard and Donna Diehl and M.J. Diehl & Sons, Inc. As a result of the termination of the Agreement, the reported indicated and inferred resources at the Company's Centennial Project will be reduced by approximately 1.1 million pounds [423 t U, or 8.7%, of a total of 4883 t U].
EPA issues new draft permit for aquifer pump test at Centennial uranium in situ leach mine project site:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has revised and reissued a permit authorizing Powertech, USA, to re-inject water as part of an aquifer pump test at the proposed Centennial uranium recovery site in Weld County, Colo. The new draft Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class V permit includes a specific pressure requirement for re-injection that was inadvertently not included in a permit EPA issued last December. EPA will hold a public hearing on the new draft permit on Monday, June 6, 2011, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Nunn Community Center in Nunn, Colo.
The comment period will end on June 10, 2011.
> View EPA release May 6, 2011
> View related documents (EPA Region 8 Underground Injection Control)
Centennial uranium mine project put on hold:
Powertech Uranium Corp. has indefinitely put on hold its proposed Centennial Project uranium mine northeast of Fort Collins partly thanks to the Japanese nuclear disaster's impacts on the uranium industry, Powertech's president said Wednesday (Apr. 27).
The company plans to focus all its efforts on getting its Dewey-Burdock uranium mine permitted and producing uranium in South Dakota before moving ahead with the Centennial Project, Powertech USA President Richard Clement said. "Dewey Burdock is the most advanced project the company has, therefore we're concentrating our efforts on Dewey-Burdock to get permitted," Clement said. "Especially in the post-tsunami financial environment, we need to concentrate our efforts as much as any other company."
Only when the Dewey-Burdock project begins producing uranium will Powertech make its next move on the Centennial Project, Clement said. For now, Powertech will continue with Centennial's state and federal permits already in process, but the company will wait to pursue any additional required permits, Clement said. All Centennial Project employees will be transferred to the Dewey-Burdock Project, Clement said, adding that the future of Powertech's Centennial Project office in Wellington is unclear. (Coloradoan Apr. 27, 2011)
Powertech idles Centennial project permitting process, shifts focus to South Dakota: Further progress on a proposed uranium mining operation a few miles west of Nunn in Weld County won't likely be happening any time soon. The Canadian company that's been seeking to develop the site since 2007 said it will be focusing its money and energy on a similar project in South Dakota. Dick Clement, Powertech USA president and CEO, said Powertech intends to pursue its Dewey-Burdock project and idle its Centennial project permitting process for the present. (Northern Colorado Business Report Mar. 25, 2011)
EPA to revise permit for aquifer pump test at Centennial uranium in situ leach mine project site:
The Environmental Protection Agency will revise the permit that Powertech, Inc. uses for a test well in a proposed uranium drilling site near Nunn. The revision addresses petitions from environmental groups about the water pressure requirement during the company's pump test.
The original draft of the Underground Injection Control Class V permit mistakenly excluded the water pressure restriction when it was issued in December, according to an EPA news release.
The EPA will issue a new draft of the permit in the coming weeks that specifically prohibits Powertech from exceeding an injection pressure of zero at the wellhead. The new draft will be subject to a public review and comment period. (Greeley Tribune Feb. 7, 2011)
Appeals filed of EPA permit issued for aquifer pump test at Centennial uranium in situ leach mine project site:
Northern Colorado residents are challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to grant a permit to Powertech (USA) Inc., which wants to mine uranium in Weld County.
The permit is for Powertech to reinject water that it planned to pump out during an aquifer test. Powertech would use information from the test to apply for a permit to recover uranium through in situ mining.
This week, James Woodward and a group called Coloradoans Against Resource Destruction filed petitions challenging the EPA decision. CARD argues the EPA didn't review all critical information. Meanwhile Woodward, who lives near the proposed mine site, says the permit's conditions should be more specific so drinking water is protected. (KDVR Jan. 6, 2011)
> Download C.A.R.D release Jan. 6, 2011 (PDF - powertechexposed.com)
> View U.S. EPA Environmental Appeals Board: Active Dockets (Case Name: Powertech (USA) Inc.)
EPA issues disposal well permit for aquifer pump test at Centennial uranium mine project site:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued an injection well permit to Powertech, (USA) Inc. that will enable the company to re-inject groundwater from an aquifer pump test at the proposed Centennial uranium site in Weld County, Colorado. This Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class V permit does not allow any uranium recovery activity at the site. The permitted activity is limited solely to the re-injection of aquifer pump test water, and will be subject to several conditions that ensure the protection of groundwater resources.
(EPA Region 8, Dec. 3, 2010)
> Download permit documents (FTP)
Centennial in situ leach project to raise water table to leach uranium ore zone located above groundwater level:
The Preliminary Economic Assessment for the Centennial Project describes the method proposed by Powertech Uranium Corp. to mine sections of the deposit that are located in an unsaturated aquifer above groundwater: in a process called "aquifer enhancement" [!], freshwater is to be injected through a ring of wells (called "well fences") surrounding the well field to raise the water table above the uranium ore zone. The rise of the water table also provides the head necessary to keep the oxygen dissolved that was added to the leaching solution to recover the uranium.
Powertech concedes that "There are likely limitations to increasing the hydraulic head due to relatively shallow mineralization in Centennial South. Investigations of the continuity of the overlying confining units of the shallow mineralization in Centennial South may be considered."
> Download Preliminary Economic Assessment, Aug. 13, 2010 (8.4M PDF) (SEDAR)
Positive results from Independent Preliminary Economic Assessment on Centennial Project:
On Aug. 20, 2010, Powertech Uranium Corp. announced that it has received the results of a Preliminary Economic Assessment, prepared in accordance with National Instrument 43-101, for the Centennial Project located in Weld County, Colorado, USA.
> Download Preliminary Economic Assessment, Aug. 13, 2010 (8.4M PDF) (SEDAR)
A Denver environmental group claims U.S. Environmental Protection Agency documents show that the EPA has been working closely with uranium mine developer Powertech USA for nearly two years on a permit application that would allow the company to pollute an aquifer beneath its proposed Centennial Project in Weld County.
All the consultation was closed to the public, said Matthew Garrington of Environment Colorado .
According to one document the group obtained, the EPA, with the help of Powertech, has been developing internal guidance documents that will govern how the agency reviews Powertech's application for a permit that will allow it to pollute an aquifer with the company’s in situ leach uranium mining process. Garrington said the documents show the government working too closely with industry. "The documents show EPA consulted directly with industry asking how the industry would like to be regulated," he said. "Of course, the industry should have a role in that process, but it shouldn’t happen behind closed doors." (Coloradoan Dec. 17, 2009)
On Sep. 3, 2009, a divided Nunn Board of Trustees approved a resolution opposing Powertech's proposed Centennial Project uranium mine. Nunn joins the cities and towns of Fort Collins, Greeley, Ault, Wellington and Timnath in opposing the mine. The resolution urges the state, Weld County and the federal government to deny Powertech its mining permits. (Coloradoan Sep. 4, 2009)
On Aug. 12, 2009; Powertech asked the state Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, or DRMS, officials to allow it to change original water-quality information for the mine site while uranium is being mined. "I'm not sure of their intent in the long term," said Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Office Director David Berry. "Our intent would be information can no longer be baseline if it's disturbed by an operation. We're pretty steadfast in that." (Coloradoan Aug. 24, 2009)
On June 15, 2009, EPA Region 8 published a notice of a draft underground injection control permit for a Class V injection well that will be used to reinject groundwater pumped from the Upper Fox Hills Formation back into the same formation from which the groundwater originated.
(In November 2009, EPA Region 8 issued a second draft permit for this injection well to eliminate any potential confusion resulting from the multiple permit numbers and identifiers that were incorrectly included in the previous draft permit).
Public comments can be filed until December 24, 2009.
> View EPA Region 8 Underground Injection Control
On May 1, 2009, inspectors of the
Colorado Division of Reclamation and Mining Safety's Minerals Program found an open unattended drill hole for a monitoring well at Powertech's Centennial project site.
> Download inspection report (powertechexposed.com)
On Apr. 15, 2008, the Greeley City Council joined the Fort Collins City Council and the boards of trustees for Timnath and Wellington in passing resolutions opposed to the mine -- which would be located between Nunn and Wellington. (Greeley Tribune Apr. 16, 2008)
On Dec. 4, 2007, Fort Collins City Council adopted a resolution that declares council's opposition to a proposed uranium mine northeast of the city and close to Nunn. The resolution is not binding and urges various agencies to deny all Powertech's permit applications for extracting the uranium. (Greeley Tribune Dec. 5, 2007)
On May 2, 2007, Nunn residents held a meeting about Powertech Uranium Corp.'s plans to begin uranium drilling in the area. Water and health hazards were the top concerns voiced. (Greeley Tribune May 3, 2007)
On Apr. 19, 2007, Powertech Uranium Corp. announced that, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Powertech (USA) Inc., it has entered into a contractual arrangement with R Squared Incorporated (R2) for the purpose of permitting Powertech's Centennial Project located in Weld County, Colorado. The agreement with R2 covers baseline data collection, environmental impact analysis, cost/benefit analysis and preparation of permit/license applications.
Cotter Corp. is stockpiling ore now that production has begun at the Schwartzwalder mine in Colorado. [UI News Briefing 96/38]
Uranium Energy announces feasibility of Slick Rock uranium and vanadium mine project ... at twice the current uranium price: On Apr. 22, 2014, Uranium Energy Corp. announced the completion of a positive Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) on its Slick Rock uranium/vanadium mine project in Colorado. The PEA is based on a uranium spot price of $60 per pound U3O8 and a vanadium spot price of $10 per pound, while the current spot price of uranium is US$ 33 per pound U3O8.
International Uranium Corp. has started uranium and vanadium production at the Sunday Mine Complex. The ore will be stockpiled at IUC's White Mesa Mill until mid 1998 when the mill's current alternate feed run will be completed. (IUC Dec. 8, 1997).
On June 8, 1999, IUC announced the immediate suspension of mining operations at the Sunday Mine for weak commodity prices.
On June 14, 2006, IUC announced the immediate resumption of mining operations at the Sunday Mine.
On August 4, 2011, the EPA issued a Construction Approval to Energy Fuels for their Whirlwind Underground Uranium Mine. The mine is regulated under 40 CFR part 61, subpart B. The mine is expected to produce up to 50,000 tons per year of ore and over 100,000 tons over the lifetime of the mine.
> View Whirlwind Uranium Mine Rad NESHAPs Construction Approval: Notice of Approval (EPA Region 8)
The Whirlwind uranium mine near Gateway has been placed on standby, or temporarily closed, a result of plummeting uranium prices.
The move furloughed five miners temporarily, said Gary Steele, vice president of corporate marketing for Energy Fuels Inc., the owner and operator of the mine, which received its permit in September.
"We were never actually in production," because the company hadn't yet reached an agreement with the Denison Mine in Blanding, Steele said. "We had no mill outlet for our ore."
Energy Fuels plans to continue pumping and water treatment, environmental and compliance work and other operations by three people who maintain part-time work at the Whirlwind mine near Gateway, and the Energy Queen mine over the state border in Utah, Steele said. The Whirlwind will be maintained so it can be opened and ramping up within 30 days of a decision to proceed, Steele said. (Grand Junction Free Press Dec. 10, 2008)
On Sep. 11, 2008, Energy Fuels Inc. announced that on September 10, 2008, both the Moab and Grand Junction field offices of the US Bureau of Land Management jointly issued a Record of Decision with a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Whirlwind Mine, which has surface facilities in Mesa County, Colorado, and additional mining claims in Grand County, Utah.
The decision will enable Energy Fuels to immediately implement the Plan of Operations for the Whirlwind Mine. This plan allows for the production of up to 200 tons per day of uranium-bearing material, and all approved and necessary surface disturbance. Mine production at this level would result in 250,000 lbs. of U3O8 [96 t U] annual production.
On May 15, 2008, the Bureau of Land Management Grand Junction Field Office released the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed uranium mine on public lands located west of Gateway.
The public will have until June 20, 2008 to review and offer comments on the document.
Energy Fuels Resources seeks to reopen two reclaimed underground mines, the Urantah Decline and Packrat Mine, combining the mines into one operation called the Whirlwind Mine.
The mines are located on unpatented claims in both Mesa County, and Grand County, Utah.
(Grand Junction Free Press May 15, 2008)
> View BLM Whirlwind Mine page
On February 21, 2008, the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety approved the 112d Hard Rock Reclamation Permit for the Whirlwind Mine located near Gateway, Colorado. (Energy Fuels Feb. 27, 2008)
On Dec. 18, 2007, the Mesa County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) unanimously voted in favor of granting Energy Fuels Resources Corp. a conditional-use permit to reopen the Packrat Mine and the Urantah Decline, known collectively as the Whirlwind Mine, about five miles west of Gateway. (Grand Junction Daily Sentinel Dec. 19, 2007)
The Whirlwind Mine is a former Union Carbide operation, which is now undergoing mine rehabilitation. Energy Fuels Vice President-Corporate Marketing, Gary R. Steele, said planned 200 tpd production could begin in 2008. The estimated resource at the mine is 657,000 pounds of uranium [253 t U] and 2.17 million pounds of vanadium. (Mineweb Dec. 17, 2007)
On Sep. 7, 2006, Energy Fuels Inc. announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Energy Fuels Resources Corporation, has executed an option agreement to acquire the Whirlwind uranium and vanadium mine.
Little Maverick Mining Company is planning to mine approximately 500 tons of uranium [?] per month from the Whirlwind Claim near Lumsden Canyon. The company recently submitted a plan to the Bureau of Land Management for a new operation that would employ less than a dozen workers and use an existing mine shaft. The claim was last mined approximately 20 years ago. (Grand Junction Sentinel, March 8, 2005)
Located near Gateway, Colorado, Energy Fuels' Tenderfoot Mesa is undergoing $1 million in mine rehabilitation with a planned 100 tpd operation, which could begin as early as mid-2008. (Mineweb Dec. 17, 2007)
The Piñon Ridge uranium mill project is being opposed by Saving Paradox , Paradox Valley Sustainability Association , Sheep Mountain Alliance , Advocacy Coalition of Telluride .
CDPHE revokes license for Piñon Ridge uranium mill project after District Court ruling:
On April 26, 2018, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment revoked the Pinon Ridge Mill's Radioactive Materials License.
> Download: CDPHE Letter: Revocation - Colorado Radioactive Materials License Number CO 1170-01 , April 26, 2018
On April 17, 2018, the Denver District Court ruled that the application of Energy Fuels for the Piñon Ridge Mill license should be denied, because "[...] Energy Fuels has failed to meet its burden of proof upon the following issues:
The Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill returns to "square one," after the state on May 10 denied Piñon Ridge Resources Corp. a new hearing for its revoked radioactive materials license. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also denied a request to stay its revocation decision.
(Montrose Daily Press May 12, 2018)
> Download: Request for hearing or, alternatively, extension of deadline for exceptions, and request to stay revocation , May 1, 2018 (PDF)
> Download: CDPHE response to Piñon Ridge Resources Corp. letter , May 11, 2018 (PDF)
Hemp replaces uranium in rural western Colorado:
"[...] This area was once a uranium mining and milling hub for the Atomic Energy Commission's Manhattan Project, and later for nuclear power. As cheaper sources of the ore emerged, the industry tanked. There was a brief jolt of optimism in 2007, when Energy Fuels announced plans to build a new uranium mill in Paradox Valley, just down the road from Nucla and Naturita. Depressed uranium prices and opposition soon scuttled that project. [...]
Thanks to new legislation and good growing conditions (lots of sun and water and dirt), the region has become a magnet for hemp farming. More recently processing has also begun, in a startup based in Nucla's old elementary schoolhouse. The facility is run by Paradox Ventures, owned by Republican state Sen. Don Coram." (Richard Linnett in Summit Daily Jan. 3, 2018)
County approves four-year extension of special use permit for construction of Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill:
The Montrose Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday (Jan. 3) unanimously approved amending the Piñon Ridge Mill Special Use Permit by extending the expiration date by four years. (Montrose Daily Press Jan. 4, 2017)
Seven years after winning a special use permit, backers of the Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill are asking for an extension in which to begin.
Mill owners' hopes to engage in ablation technology, meanwhile, could be affected by the state's Dec. 1 determination that proposed ablation technology at their San Miguel County mine would have to be regulated through a milling license.
The controversial Piñon Ridge mill, approved for the West End of Montrose County, is yet to start operations, in part because of litigation over and the resulting abeyance of its state radioactive materials permit.
Montrose County's role was to approve a special use permit allowing the mill to be sited in an area zoned for agriculture. The permit was granted in 2009, with a host of conditions. A critical one has not been met: The mill was to have been up and running by the end of September of this year.
"They have not done that," Montrose County Land Use Director Steve White said. "They have requested an amendment to the condition to allow additional time. They've asked for four additional years to be able to build." (Montrose Daily Press Dec. 6, 2016)
Letter of Intent signed for use of ablation technology for ore beneficiation at Piñon Ridge uranium mill site:
On Nov. 3, 2016, Western Uranium Corporation announced that it has entered into a letter of intent ("LOI") with Piñon Ridge Corporation for use of its ablation mining technology at the permitted uranium recovery facilities at the Piñon Ridge Mill site. The LOI provides for the processing of all of Western's ore produced by its mines in the region at the mill site to produce U3O8 and vanadium utilizing both the application of ablation mining technology and traditional milling techniques. The Piñon Ridge Mill license is held by Piñon Ridge Resources Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Piñon Ridge Corporation. The LOI is subject to the signing of a definitive agreement between the parties which is contemplated to be completed on or before March 1, 2017.
> See also: Hansen project
Denver district court suspends license to build Piñon Ridge uranium mill, again:
A Denver district judge has again ruled against the license issued by the State of Colorado to Energy Fuels to construct and operate a uranium mill in Paradox Valley in western Montrose County for the second time.
In a court ruling issued Wednesday (Sep. 3), District Judge Robert McGahey found that the hearing process for the mill, ordered by a previous judge who invalidated the license in June of 2012, did not comply with the 2012 order. In today's order, Judge McGahey ruled that a hearing officer must review the record established at the November 2012 hearing and make an "initial decision as to whether Energy Fuels application has met all criteria under state law". (Sheep Mountain Alliance Sep. 3, 2014)
Energy Fuels announces sale of Piñon Ridge uranium mill license and several mining assets:
On July 3, 2014, Energy Fuels Inc. announced that, as part of its continuing cost reduction and asset rationalization strategy, it has entered into definitive agreements to sell certain of its non-core uranium assets to a private investor group led by Baobab Asset Management LLC and George Glasier, the past president of the Company who served from its founding in 2006 until March of 2010. The assets in the transaction include the Piñon Ridge mill license and related assets and certain other mining assets located along the Colorado-Utah border, including the Sunday Complex, the Willhunt project, the San Rafael project, the Sage mine, the Van 4 mine, the Farmer Girl project, the Dunn project and the Yellow Cat project.
On Nov. 7, 2014, Energy Fuels Inc. announced the closing of the sale.
Court allows challenge of license issued for Piñon Ridge uranium mill project to proceed: Denver District Court Judge Robert McGahey on Monday (Sep. 9) denied the state's motion to dismiss a court action challenging the legality of April's reissue of a radioactive materials license for Energy Fuels' proposed Piñon Ridge yellowcake mill in west Montrose County. The denial was based on a June 2012 court order that negated the original mill license and resulted in five days of hearings in Nucla last October. Sheep Mountain Alliance and Colorado Wild attorneys claimed that Nucla hearings mediator-judge Richard Dana violated the intent of the court order by failing to make a recommendation for or against a Piñon Ridge license that was based on evidence presented at the hearings. (Montrose Daily Press Sep. 11, 2013)
Piñon Ridge uranium mill project put on the back burner:
A proposed uranium mill in Southwest Colorado will not be built unless there is an unexpected turnaround in the price of uranium, the president of the company that is developing the mill said Friday (Sep. 6) in a conference call with investors.
Energy Fuels Resources Inc. will keep holding its license to build the Piñon Ridge uranium mill in the Paradox Valley of Montrose County, but it has no plans to act on the license, said President and CEO Stephen Antony.
(Durango Herald Sep. 7, 2013)
Judge dismisses filing for supplemental water rights for Piñon Ridge uranium mill project:
Last week, District Judge Steven Patrick dismissed Energy Fuels, Inc.'s filing for water rights on the San Miguel River without prejudice, leaving the door open for the Canadian mining company to file for the water rights in the future.
The Telluride based environmental group, Sheep Mountain Alliance, is hailing the decision as a victory for opponents of the proposed Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill, which is slated to be built in the West End of Montrose County. An Energy Fuels spokesman, however, said Patrick's decision is one that the company had asked for. According to Energy Fuels spokesman Curtis Moore, during its planning process for the uranium mill back in 2010, the company filed for San Miguel River water rights that could be used to supplement the well water rights it already had in order to operate the mill, or to use the water for future mill expansion. As the company went through multiple approval processes with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, it decided that it would not need the water rights it had filed for. (Telluride Watch Sep. 3, 2013)
CDPHE invites public comment on Decommissioning Funding Plan and Construction Plan for Piñon Ridge uranium mill project:
Written comments may be submitted by September 13, 2013.
> View CDPHE announcement and download documents
On Sep. 27, 2013, CDPHE approved the Decommissioning Funding Plan and Construction Plan.
Sheep Mountain Alliance files complaint against the state over license issued for Piñon Ridge uranium mill project: Telluride environmental group Sheep Mountain Alliance (SMA) has filed another lawsuit in its fight against the proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill. SMA filed a complaint against the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) in Denver District Court on May 24. Though no court dates have been set, SMA hopes that the lawsuit forces the CDPHE to invalidate the newest radioactive materials license it issued to Canadian company Energy Fuels, Inc. based on a number of reasons, mainly the agency's use of an evaluation system that SMA describes as dated. (Telluride Daily Planet June 1, 2013)
CDPHE issues draft air permits for Piñon Ridge uranium mill:
Sumbit comments by June 1, 2013.
> Download Draft Air Permits , May 2, 2013
Piñon Ridge: the uranium mill that is to be built only to be mothballed - if at all:
Energy Fuels spokesman Curtis Moore was circumspect about plans and said, "We are waiting for another air permit from the state but after that spot uranium market prices are pretty low, less than $41 per pound (U3O8). After we fulfill current contracts at $56 to $58 per pound (U3O8), then we either sell at market prices or else we just inventory what feedstock we receive. We still are optimistic long term, but Japan is not starting reactors as quickly as thought, and right now, there is a plentiful [uranium] supply around the world."
Energy Fuels also currently lacks funds to build, Moore pointed out. (Cibola Beacon Apr. 30, 2013)
[So, if actually going to be constructed, the mill most likely would share the fate of those mills that have been idle for decades: the Sweetwater mill in Wyoming, and, in particular, the Shootaring Canyon mill in Utah which was mothballed after construction was completed...]
State approves license for construction of Piñon Ridge uranium mill:
After a lengthy and contentious approval process, the state has granted a license for construction to begin on the first new uranium mill in the U.S. in more than 30 years.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Thursday (Apr. 25) granted Energy Fuels a radioactive materials license, clearing the way for construction on the facility in Montrose County. The Piñon Ridge Mill is expected to process 500 tons of uranium and vanadium [ore], which is used in steel alloys and high-tech batteries, per day.
The mill will primarily process ore from mines in Gateway, Colo., and La Sal, Utah. The ore will be transformed into uranium oxide, which will be sent out of state to be turned into fuel for nuclear reactors.
Colorado originally authorized the project in 2011, prompting appeals from a handful of activist groups. A Denver judge eventually invalidated that license after finding that the state did not hold formal public hearings. Opponents worry about the potential for hazardous waste contamination. But the Department of Public Health and Environment insists in its environmental analysis that appropriate safeguards are in place.
The license was issued with several conditions, including that Energy Fuels develop a groundwater monitoring plan, which will be reviewed annually. The license itself is subject to a periodic review, and must be renewed whenever there is a change to operation procedures or key personnel. (Denver Post Apr. 25, 2013)
> View CDPHE release Apr. 25, 2013
> Download Decision Analysis and Environmental Impact Analysis (CPDHE)
Sheep Mountain Alliance appeals ruling on Piñon Ridge uranium mill:
Telluride-based environmental group Sheep Mountain Alliance has appealed the most recent ruling in the Piñon Ridge uranium mill case.
The filing is the latest step in the ongoing legal wrangling over whether the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment should allow project applicant Energy Fuels to build a uranium mill in Montrose County's Paradox Valley.
Following a week-long hearing in November, Judicial arbiter Richard Dana released his decision in the case Jan. 14. In the decision, Dana made no recommendation to the state to approve or deny a radioactive materials license for what would be the first conventional uranium mill constructed in the U.S. in more than a quarter century. SMA's appeal lists six issues, including that the hearing officer did not provide a lawful determination of the issues raised by the parties and failed to rule on the legal and factual basis of the environmental impact analysis. The Western Mining Action Project and Rocky Mountain Wild also joined in the appeal, which was filed on Jan. 25. (Telluride Daily Planet Feb. 1, 2013)
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment director Dr. Chris Urbina on Thursday (Feb. 28) denied an environmental group's appeal of a decision to grant a permit for construction of a uranium mill in southwestern Colorado, but said he will consider their testimony. Urbina's executive order clears the way for a final decision on Energy Fuels' request for a radioactive materials license for a proposed uranium and vanadium mill near Nucla. That decision is expected in April. (Denver Post Feb. 28, 2013)
Piñon Ridge uranium mill hearing officer releases decision without making recommendation:
The hearing officer who presided over the Piñon Ridge uranium mill hearings this fall released his decision on Monday (Jan. 14), and both sides are claiming victory in the ruling.
Richard Dana's decision made no recommendation to the state to approve or disapprove the Piñon Ridge project. He did acknowledge that new information from expert testimonials was presented during the hearings, and certified that the hearings met Colorado state requirements. (Telluride Daily Planet Jan. 16, 2013)
Piñon Ridge uranium mill project no longer needed by Energy Fuels Inc.: In the Management's Discussion and Analysis for the year ended September 30, 2012 , released on SEDAR on Dec. 21, 2012, Energy Fuels Inc. states:
"As a result of the acquisition of the US Mining Division, the Company acquired the fully operational White Mesa Mill. Given the Company's current strategy in light of current market conditions, the Company currently does not have a need for a second operating uranium mill."
Telluride and San Miguel County agree to settlement in Piñon Ridge Mill challenge: On Oct. 11, 2012, Energy Fuels Inc. announced that the Town of Telluride and San Miguel County have agreed to a settlement with the company in the Piñon Ridge Mill license challenge. The other parties to the challenge, including Sheep Mountain Alliance and a private individual, were not parties to the settlement. The settlement between Energy Fuels, Telluride and San Miguel County includes provisions related to transportation, the financial surety, and protection of area watersheds.
Three environmental groups gain party status in hearing over proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill: A court-appointed arbitrator has granted party status to three environmental groups allowing them to participate directly in public hearings over whether to permit the construction of uranium mill in southwestern Colorado. The decision clears the way for Rocky Mountain Wild , Colorado Environmental Coalition and the Center for Biological Diversity to present evidence and cross examine witnesses at Colorado Department of Health and Environment hearings over a permit for the proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill. The first hearing is scheduled for Oct. 15 (Denver Post Oct. 10, 2012)
Court orders hearing on license for Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill:
Denver District Court did require that CDPHE conduct a public hearing which includes the opportunity for cross-examination of witnesses. Such hearing will take place within 75 days of July 5, 2012. The current License issued to Energy Fuels will be set aside pending the outcome of the public hearing.
(Energy Fuels June 13, 2012)
On Aug. 6, 2012, CDPHE announced that the hearing will be held on October 15 and November 7, 2012, in Nucla, CO.
> Download Notice of public hearing and opportunity for public comment, Aug. 6, 2012 (PDF - CPDHE)
Donation for restoration of Naturita Uranium Drive-In sign earns Energy Fuels glider flight over scenic Paradox Valley - the site of its proposed Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill...: A $1000 donation made on April 14, 2012, for the restoration of the sign of Naturita's former Uranium Drive-In movie theater earned Energy Fuels Resources Corp. the following "prizes":
> Uranium Drive-In Sign Restoration (indiegogo)
NRC finds CDPHE did not follow procedures under federal law during approval process for Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill:
In what seems to be a major blow to the proposed construction of Energy Fuels' Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill in the Paradox Valley, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has found that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment did not follow procedures under federal law during the mill's approval process and may force a new approval process.
Telluride Town Attorney Kevin Geiger told members of the Telluride Town Council on Tuesday (March 13) that the concerns of the town and opponents of the mill appear to be "substantiated" by the federal government. "They are very concerned about the public hearing components and made a finding that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment did not follow the proper procedures under federal law," Geiger said. (Telluride Watch March 13, 2012)
State further extends deadline for Piñon Ridge uranium mill assurance payments:
Energy Fuels Corp. has won more time from Colorado health officials to make financial assurance payments for its proposed uranium mill near Naturita.
Energy Fuels must make about $11 million in such payments for decommissioning of the proposed Pinon Ridge mill after it closes. The company originally planned to start building the mill last September, but litigation by opponents has led to delays. Energy Fuels now plans to start construction this September, at the earliest.
State health officials said Wednesday (Feb. 29) they have approved a roughly six-month extension of deadlines for making the financial assurance payments. Energy Fuels has already paid about $1.4 million. Three more payments of varying amounts are scheduled through September 2013. Energy Fuels also has paid $844,400 for long-term care of the mill site after it closes. (Denver Post Feb. 29, 2012)
Court upholds county's approval process for Piñon Ridge uranium mill: Montrose County's approval of a conditional-use permit for a uranium mill near Naturita has withstood a legal challenge from the Telluride-based Sheep Mountain Alliance. The Colorado Court of Appeals in an opinion released Thursday (Dec. 8) upheld the county's process, which led to the approval of the permit. (Grand Junction Sentinel Dec. 8, 2011)
EPA issues Construction Approval for tailings impoundment at Piñon Ridge uranium mill project:
On October 26, 2011, EPA issued a Construction Approval under the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) to Energy Fuels Resources Corp. for their proposed Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill in Montrose County, CO. EPA's Approval allows for construction of the Piñon Ridge tailings impoundment Tailing Cell A, which will not exceed 40 acres in area, and no more than 40 acres of evaporation ponds.
> View Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill Rad NESHAPs Construction Approval (EPA Region 8)
Settlement achieved on water rights for Piñon Ridge uranium mill: On September 26, 2011, Energy Fuels Inc. announced that it has reached a key settlement with two of the Objectors to the Company's water rights' application for the proposed Piñon Ridge Uranium and Vanadium Mill. On Wednesday September 21, a settlement agreement was filed in State of Colorado District Court, Water Division 4, whereby Energy Fuels settled with Sheep Mountain Alliance ("SMA") and Living Rivers ("LR"), two regional conservation groups who intervened in the water application as Objectors. In that settlement agreement SMA and LR agreed to withdraw their opposition to the Company's water rights application in exchange for Energy Fuels implementing certain environmental and water supply protections. The Water Judge quickly approved the settlement agreement as an Order of the Court.
State approves request to defer financial assurance payments for Piñon Ridge uranium mill: On Aug. 23, 2011, the Radiation Program of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced that it has approved a request by Energy Fuels Corp. to defer its remaining financial assurance payments for the Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill until next construction season. The approval, an amendment to the company's radioactive materials license, notes that the original payment schedule was based upon mill construction starting in September 2011. Due to ongoing litigation, Energy Fuels will not be able to start construction until at least March 2012.
Report sees sufficient uranium resource to supply Piñon Ridge uranium mill: On July 14, 2011, Energy Fuels Inc. announced the release of a favorable independent report prepared for Montrose County that supports and confirms Energy Fuels' estimates of sufficient economically minable uranium resource in the region to supply the Piñon Ridge Uranium and Vanadium Mill. The report confirms there is sufficient resource, both at current mill design capacity and potential future expanded mill capacity. The report was prepared by Economic & Planning Systems, Inc .
Judge rejects requests to dismiss lawsuit challenging proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill: A Denver judge says a citizens group can proceed with its lawsuit challenging the proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill in western Colorado. The lawsuit by the Telluride-based Sheep Mountain Alliance seeks to revoke a radioactive materials license the state health department issued to Energy Fuels Inc. for its proposed mill in Montrose County. A judge Wednesday (May 25) denied requests by the department and company to dismiss the lawsuit, saying he hasn't seen enough evidence at this point to warrant dismissal. (KDVR May 26, 2011)
Groups ask EPA to withhold air permit for tailings impoundment at Piñon Ridge uranium mill until radon regulations are modernized:
Two Colorado citizens groups have asked the EPA to withhold approval of a new
uranium mill in Colorado until the agency completes a review and revision of air quality regulations it agreed to finish this year.
Sheep Mountain Alliance , a Telluride, Colo.-based conservation group, and Colorado Citizens Against ToxicWaste (CCAT), a citizens group in Cañon City, Colo., submitted comments to the EPA this week asking the agency to withhold its approval of a construction plan for the Piñon Ridge Mill.
> Download Sheep Mountain Alliance / CCAT release , Apr. 21, 2011 (PDF)
> Download Sheep Mountain Alliance / CCAT comments , Apr. 18, 2011 (PDF)
EPA issues Notice of Intent to Approve air permit for tailings impoundment at Piñon Ridge uranium mill:
EPA proposes to approve construction of the Piñon Ridge tailings impoundment Tailing Cell A, which will not exceed 40 acres in area, and no more than 40 acres of evaporation ponds.
EPA Region 8 is offering an opportunity for a 30-day informal public review on their proposed construction approval. Comments can be submitted through April 18, 2011 (Comment period extended).
> View EPA Region 8: Piñon Ridge uranium mill
> Download Application documents (FTP - EPA Region 8)
License for proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill now final:
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Monday (March 7) issued a final radioactive materials license for what would be the country's first new conventional uranium mill in more than 25 years.
The license allows the mill to process up to 700 short tons of uranium ore on a given day but only an annual average of 500 short tons per day. The health department has to approve engineering plans for the mill before construction begins.
The Sheep Mountain Alliance, a citizens group based in Telluride, has filed a lawsuit seeking to revoke the license. A Denver judge has yet to rule on the health department's request to dismiss the suit.
(Cañon City Daily Record March 8, 2011)
> View CDPHE decision page
Group asks judge to revoke license for Piñon Ridge uranium mill: The Sheep Mountain Alliance filed a lawsuit last week in Denver District Court over the Piñon Ridge mill that Energy Fuels Inc. wants to build in Montrose County. It alleges the state health department violated federal and state laws in approving a radioactive materials license for the mill in January. Among the allegations is that the $11 million in sureties that Energy Fuels is required to provide to cover future cleanup and decommissioning costs is hardly enough, based on cleanup costs at other U.S. mills. (Denver Post Feb. 8, 2011)
Court upholds county's Special Use Permit for Piñon Ridge uranium mill project: On Feb. 4, 2011, Energy Fuels Inc. announced that Judge James Schum of the State of Colorado District Court in Montrose County denied the legal challenge by Sheep Mountain Alliance of the decision by the Montrose County Board of County Commissioners (Board) to approve the Special Use Permit for the Company's Piñon Ridge Mill, originally approved on September 30, 2009. This ruling will allow for construction to proceed on the mill once all remaining state and federal permits are obtained and a reclamation bond is posted with the State of Colorado.
CDPHE approves license for Piñon Ridge uranium mill:
On Jan. 5, 2011, the Radiation Program of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced approval of a radioactive materials license for the Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill in western Montrose County, Colo.
Because Colorado is an Agreement State with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
(NRC), the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has the sole
authority to regulate uranium milling in the state.
> Download CDPHE release Jan. 5, 2011 (PDF)
> Download CDPHE Decision Document
New report: Piñon Ridge uranium mill would hurt tourism, recreation, residential industries:
A new study commissioned by an environmental group opposed to a proposed uranium mill in far western Colorado concludes the project could adversely impact economic growth in the area because of potential radiation contamination and the stigma of a new nuclear boom.
Produced for the Telluride-based Sheep Mountain Alliance (SMA), which is suing to stop the proposed Piñon Ridge Mill in Montrose County, the new report found that the outdoor recreation, tourism and residential sectors (both retirees and new residents) would be hurt by an upsurge in uranium mining activity in the area. (Colorado Independent Dec. 23, 2010)
> Download all SMA comments: Geological comments (195k PDF) · Environmental comments (216k PDF) · Wildlife comments (1.6M PDF) · Socioeconomic comment (3.9M PDF) >
Town Council of Telluride raises concerns over proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill:
The Telluride Town Council is hopping aboard the opposition movement against a uranium mill proposed to go up in Paradox Valley.
Members of council and town staff are in the process of penning a letter to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials that details concerns that the uranium mill could damage the health of the region's people, environment and economy.
"The town and our local residents and visitors are very concerned about the possible significant and long-term deleterious impacts that could occur if the Piñon Ridge Facility is approved by CDPHE and becomes an operational mill for the processing of uranium ore," reads a draft of the letter.
Based on the draft, the chief concern for the town is the danger a uranium mill could pose to the region's water and air quality. The letter explains that air modeling research from Dr. Mark Williams from the University of Colorado INSTAAR has shown that airborne materials are transported easterly by prevailing winds - and the fear is that dangerous particulates will settle into the San Juan snowpack and end up in the local drinking water. (Telluride Daily Planet Nov. 21, 2010)
Groups challenge water-right permit for proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill: Two Moab conservation groups are challenging Energy Fuels' water-right permit applications in Montrose County Water Court. Red Rock Forests and Living Rivers filed a statement of opposition to three of EF's water-permit applications for groundwater that is tributary to the Dolores River. The water would be used for Energy Fuels' proposed Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill near Paradox. (Montrose Daily Press Feb. 3, 2010)
Application filed for Piñon Ridge uranium mill:
On Nov. 18, 2009, rhe radiation program of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment received an application for a radioactive materials license from Energy Fuels Resources Corp. The license is required before the company can construct its proposed Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill about 12 miles west of Naturita, Colo., in the Paradox Valley. If approved, the 500-tons-per-day uranium/vanadium mill would be the first new uranium mill to be built in the United States in more than 25 years.
> Download license application (CDPHE)
On Dec. 18, 2009, CDPHE announced that the license application is deemed complete and the technical adequacy review begins.
Conservation group files complaint against zoning decision for Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill: In a complaint filed in District Court last week local conservation group Sheep Mountain Alliance alleged that the Montrose County Commissioners violated county zoning rules and abused their discretion when in September they unanimously approved a special use permit allowing the construction and operation of a uranium mill on 880 acres in Paradox Valley zoned for agricultural use. (Telluride Watch Nov. 4, 2009)
Montrose County Commissioners approved a conditional use permit for the Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill this morning. (Montrose Daily Press Sep. 30, 2009)
41 potential mines might supply uranium ore to proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill: In its mine operations plan (168k PDF) for the Piñon Ridge uranium mill project submitted to CDPHE on August 31, 2009, Energy Fuels Resources Corp. lists 41 mine properties as potential mill feed resources, ten of which are owned by the company.
On Sep. 4, 2009, Energy Fuels Resources Corp. notified the CDPHE of its intention "to submit the license application and ER in late October 2009, provided that the Montrose Board of County Commissioners approves our special use permit."
U.S. EPA and plaintiffs reach agreement on review and possible revision of radon emission standard for operating uranium mill tailings: See here
Montrose County Planning Commission approves permit application for Piñon Ridge uranium mill:
The Montrose County Planning Commission unanimously approved the permit application for Energy Fuels Wednesday (July 1), after dozens of questions during a reopened public hearing.
If county commissioners go on to approve the permit, EF can site a uranium and vanadium mill about 12 miles from Paradox. The area is zoned for agriculture and the special use permit is required to allow the milling activity.
Energy Fuels must also seek state approval for its operations, which is expected to be a lengthy process.
(Montrose Daily Press July 2, 2009)
A crowd of about 75 came to the Montrose County Fairgrounds and spoke overwhelmingly against the mine, parading to the podium to protest what they clearly saw as a threat to their health, water and way of life. "If they contaminate our ground water, what happens then?" said Paradox's Marie Moore. "This is my life. You don't even live there. You don't even know." (Telluride Daily Planet July 2, 2009)
Energy Fuels files for county permit for Piñon Ridge uranium mill: Energy Fuels Corporation filed a special use permit for their proposed Paradox Valley uranium mill on July 25, 2008, with Montrose County Planning Director Steve White, according to Energy Fuels Environmental Manager Frank Filas.
The special use permit will be evaluated by the County Planning Department and forwarded to all members of the Montrose County Planning Commission for study before any public hearings are held to discuss the issues that the county feels are critical before they can make any decision to grant or deny Energy Fuels the right to build a mill on their property.
The document will be on file with the county and will also be downloadable in the near future from both the Energy Fuels Piñon Mill website and from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Web site for Energy Fuels . (Montrose Daily Press July 25, 2008)
Company declares to ignore residents' concerns on Piñon Ridge uranium mill project:
Energy Fuels Resources, a company proposing a uranium mill project in Paradox Valley, didn't have to come to the people of San Miguel County to present its plans. And after taking barbed questions and angry comments for an hour and a half on Wednesday (May 28, 2008), it may have wished they hadn't.
The company hopes to build the mill on 880 private acres between Naturita and Paradox, in Montrose County, in the same basic area where the historic Uravan mill processed uranium for the world's first nuclear weapons. That site ended up polluted with radioactive waste. Uravan cost taxpayers $70 million to clean up, and some of the miners and mill workers their health, according to the class action lawsuits filed against Umetco Minerals Corporation.
On Wednesday, residents of the region seemed anxious not to let history repeat itself.
"Tell the regulators you don't want the uranium mill," said Glasier. "You can tell me you don't want this uranium mill, but I'm going to do everything I can to get this uranium mill built." (The Daily Planet May 30, 2008)
In a recent presentation to the Northwest Mining Association Convention, Energy Fuels Vice President-Corporate Marketing, Gary R. Steele, said the rapid development of the Piñon Ridge Mill site can be attributed to licensing authority of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), instead of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission [Colorado is an Agreement State , to which NRC relinquishes the authority to license uranium mills].
By working with the regulators, Energy Fuels is confident of mill start up in 2010. Located in the uranium mining-friendly environment of Montrose County, Colorado, the 1,000 tpd mill will have both uranium and vanadium recovery circuits. It is located on 880 acres [3.56 km2] of private land owned by Energy Fuels, which Steele estimated is large enough for more than 30 years of tailings disposal [resulting in more than 10 million tons (or 9 million t) of tailings]. (Mineweb Dec. 17, 2007, emphasis added)
On July 18, 2007, Energy Fuels Inc. announced that it has acquired approximately 1,000 acres of property located west of Naturita, Colorado, in the Paradox Valley of western Montrose County, where it intends to construct its Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill.
Initial engineering studies indicate the Piñon Ridge Mill will be designed with a capacity of 1,000 tons per day of ore throughput. At historical U3O8 grades typical for the region, this mill will be designed to produce between 1.6 million and 2.0 million pounds of U3O8 (yellowcake) [615 to 769 t U] per year.
In addition, the mines in the local region (the Uravan Mining District) produce vanadium (V2O5) as an associated mineral with uranium. The presence of vanadium in these deposits effectively lowers the cost of uranium extraction. At historical V2O5 grades for this region, the Piñon Ridge Mill will also produce 5 million to 8 million pounds of V2O5 per year. The current spot price for V2O5 is in the $7.50 to $8.00 per pound range.
Mill license review and approval are expected to require about 16 months from the time of application submittal. The company plans to submit the mill license application in approximately 12 months. Mill operations are expected to commence in 2010. (Energy Fuels Inc. July 18, 2007)
Energy Fuels Resources Corp. is planning to build a uranium mill west of Naturita that could start operating within three years.
Company President George Glasier said the new mill may be built about six miles west of Naturita adjacent to a U.S. Department of Energy site in the Paradox Valley.
The mill, he said, could employ about 100 people and process uranium and vanadium from mines all over the Western Slope.
Nucla-based Energy Fuels owns two uranium mines near Gateway and several others in Utah between Moab and Blanding.
Other small mines in the region could be on the way, he said.
It will take about two years for the state to license the mill, and nine months for Energy Fuels to build it, he said.
Environmental concerns include the mill's potential impact on area air quality and how the uranium ore is stored and transported, Colorado Environmental Coalition organizer Lee-Ann Hill said. (Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, October 7, 2006)
Uranium exploration at Taylor Ranch is opposed by Tallahassee Area Community, Inc.
Fremont County commissioners defer decision on expanded uranium exploration in Tallahassee Creek area to study cause of uranium contamination found in drinking water wells:
Fremont County commissioners on Tuesday (Sep. 28) again put off making a decision on a proposal to expand uranium exploration in the Tallahassee Creek area so that they can have time to digest information provided by an independent water expert.
Western Water and Land water expert Bruce Smith testified that in looking at private drinking wells, "There are some wells out there above the standard for drinking water for uranium. Eleven of 40 wells exceeded the standard and eight of those exceeded it every time." "What is the source - it could be natural background, it could be in the rock itself the well is drilled in. Of course, it is always possible it comes from the old Cypress exploration wells or the new Black Range exploration wells," Smith said. Smith said he needs more time to analyze the data he has received. Hydrogeologist Tim Decker, speaking on behalf of the Tallahassee Area Community, which is opposed to the exploration, agreed that more data is needed.
After several Tallahassee-area residents requested more time to comment, the commission voted to extend the written public comment deadline to Oct. 12 and the commission set a vote on the matter for Nov. 9. (The Pueblo Chieftain Sep. 29, 2010)
Panel votes against expansion of Black Range Minerals' uranium exploration in the Tallahassee Creek area In a 4-2 decision Wednesday (Sep. 8), the Fremont County Planning Commission voted not to recommend approval of the expansion of Black Range Minerals' exploration in the Tallahassee Creek area. The company has applied to amend its 2008 conditional use permit to include an additional 2,210 acres of property south of CR 2 and west of CR 21 and 21A. The property is leased from various land owners. Consideration of the application was tabled Aug. 3 after multiple citizens expressed concerns about the project. The application will go to the Fremont County Commissioners for a public hearing Tuesday (Sep. 14). (The Cañon City Daily Record Sep. 9, 2010)
Citizens oppose expansion of uranium exploration permit in Tallahassee area, state damage already caused to water wells:
The Fremont county Planning Commission, Tuesday (Aug. 3), tabled a request from Black Range Minerals (BRM) to amend its current conditional use permit (CUP) to allow for expansion of mineral exploration.
The request was met with much opposition and hesitance by concerned citizens. [...]
Ed Franz said he believes BRM has not performed as they said they promised, and as a result, they are endangering the health and safety of the public. "Water test data indicates that area water wells have been damaged by uranium exploration activity," he said. "It is my opinion and belief ... that all individuals and entities involved in the uranium exploration activities - past and present - should be held accountable to the maximum extent possible for damages." He said a process should be established to compensate landowners for damages to water and property value before additional exploration is considered. [...]
(The Cañon City Daily Record Aug. 4, 2010)
Tallahassee group files lawsuit: Uranium exploration in the Tallahassee area entered the legal arena last week when Tallahassee Area Community, Inc., filed a Rule 106 lawsuit against the Fremont County Commissioners. The matter has been assigned to District Judge David Thorson's courtroom. No hearing date has been set. The motion is an appeal of the county's decision June 9 to allow Black Range Minerals, an Australian mining company, to prospect for uranium on the Taylor and Boyer Ranches in the Tallahassee area. The controversial decision followed months of discussion and several public hearings. (The Cañon City Daily Record July 16, 2008)
On July 8, 2008, Fremont County Commissioners adopted the conditions that will allow Black Range Minerals to resume uranium exploration in as little as a month. The primary concern of residents in the Tallahassee area, where the uranium exploration will take place, is potential water contamination. To try to allay those fears, the conditions include contracting an independent, third-party water expert to monitor surface and groundwater throughout the exploration process. (The Cañon City Daily Record Jul. 9, 2008)
Exploration drilling for uranium in the Tallahassee area received the green light from the county this morning, but the issue is far from settled. Following months of controversy and argument, the Fremont County Commissioners unanimously approved the Conditional Use Permit required to test the area northwest of Cañon City for the economic viability of a full uranium mining and milling operation. However, the commissioners warned Black Range Minerals the county will be a strict watchdog to ensure the company complies with a lengthy list of conditions. Those stipulations are in the works and are scheduled for adoption next month following a public comment period. (The Cañon City Daily Record Jun. 9, 2008)
> For details, check Fremont County
Black Range Minerals of Australia wants to resume exploration for uranium on Taylor Ranch properties off County Road 2 northwest of Cañon City. Black Range previously started uranium exploration on the ranch, but stopped several weeks ago when the company learned it needed a county permit for exploration, according to Ed Norden, Fremont County commissioner. (The Pueblo Chieftain Apr. 1, 2008)
Uranium exploration at Hansen is opposed by Tallahassee Area Community, Inc.
> Download Underground Borehole Mining and Impact Ablation Tutorial , Nov. 2013 (152k PDF - Tallahassee Area Community, Inc.)
> Other proposals for the use of ablation technology: Piñon Ridge (Colorado) · Sunday mine complex (Colorado) · Madaouéla (Niger)
NRC determines that uranium ore beneficiation by ablation requires NRC licence and resulting wastes are to be considered as tailings:
"Since uranium ablation technology involves the extraction or concentration
of uranium or thorium from any ore processed primarily for its source material content,
then any wastes produced by the process would meet the criteria to be classified as
byproduct material as defined in Section 11e.(2) of the Atomic Energy Act, as amended
and 10 CFR 40.4. [...]"
"Based on our review of the latest information provided by Black Range Minerals to CDPHE staff and other information related to uranium ablation previously provided to NRC staff, the NRC staff finds the uranium ablation process at a minimum requires a source material license, and should be considered uranium milling and regulated under Colorado’s equivalent regulations to 10 CFR Part 40, and 10 CFR Part 40 Appendix A. [...]"
> Download NRC letter to CDPHE, Oct. 19, 2016 (PDF)
CDPHE invites comment on possible regulation of uranium ore beneficiation by ablation technology:
> View here
African uranium ores to be tested in the U.S. for application of ablation technology:
On Feb. 16, 2016, Western Uranium Corp. announced:
"Western is also in the process of receiving a shipment of African uranium ore for testing to determine how the Ablation Process can improve the economics of this large fully-developed deposit in Africa."
Board denies underground borehole extraction experiment at Hansen project under prospecting permit:
The Mined Land Reclamation Board on Oct. 28 denied the application from Black Range Minerals that would have allowed development of an underground borehole extraction experiment in the Tallahassee Creek area. As presented, the application would have proceeded under the minimal requirements of a prospecting permit.
Objections to the proposal were filed by opponents including Tallahassee Area Community, Inc. , Coloradoans Against Resource Destruction and the Information Network for Responsible Mining. (The Pueblo Chieftain Nov. 4. 2015)
> Download Summary of Minutes, Mined Land Reclamation Board Meeting Oct. 28, 2015 (PDF)
State regulator declares use of uranium ore beneficiation by ablation technology a criminal act - for the time being:
"Until the Department determines whether its regulations and the Colorado Radiation Control Act allow for uranium ablation without a license, no one may conduct a uranium ablation activity in Colorado unless the total quantity of source material used and possessed as part of and resulting from the activity meets the qualifications for a source material general license to use and transfer not more than 6.82 kg (15 pounds) of source material at any one time. [...]
Conducting uranium ablation activities [...] will be considered the use of radioactive materials without a license, an act subject to civil and criminal penalties under the Colorado Radiation Control Act."
> Download CDPHE notice Sep. 24, 2015 (PDF) [released by NRC only on Sep. 30, 2016]
> See also: Colorado legislature approves measure to ensure cleanup of Cañon City groundwater contamination
> Download: Description of Ablation Mining Technology Applied to Uranium Deposits, July 2015 White Paper (1.1MB PDF)
By email dated Aug. 13, 2013, NRC informed Ablation Technologies that "it appears that the ablation process would require a source material license". Black Range Minerals and Ablation Technologies plan to move approximately 100 tons of uranium ore from Colorado to Casper, Wyoming to run it through the ablation process.
On Apr. 26, 2012, Black Range Minerals announced a positive Scoping study for underground borehole mining (UBHM) with ablation for the Hansen Uranium Deposit.
In ablation, the slurry from UBHM is ejected from two opposing injection nozzles to create a high energy impact zone. This high energy impact separates the mineralized patina (coating) of uranium from the underlying grain. The uranium bearing particles are found in the fine fractions separated in a subsequent screening process. Test work confirms recovery of approx. 95% U3O8 in approx. 10% of the mined material. A Preliminary Economic Assessment is expected to be completed in the third quarter 2012.
> Calculate Hansen mine feasibility
On Feb. 13, 2012, Black Range Minerals announced a positive preliminary evaluation of the use of Hydraulic Borehole Mining (HBHM) at the Hansen Uranium Deposit. This technology uses remote mining from a borehole by cutting the target ore with water and slurrying it to the surface. The technology is already in use at Cigar Lake (Saskatchewan).
TAC concerned by collaboration: Black Range Minerals' intent to form a joint venture with Uranium One was met with concern by Tallahassee Area Community Inc., the organization formed exclusively to oppose uranium exploration and mining in the area. TAC President Jim Hawklee said on Jan. 13, 2009, the group relies on the county's land use decisions to protect residents but is uncertain that protection is infallible. Water rights remain front and center in TAC's opposition to the project. "A full-scale mining operation will de-water the entire region," Hawklee said. "The loss of water to the Tallahassee Creek system is unacceptable, and would harm the State of Colorado's in-stream flow rights along with numerous other water-rights holders." TAC's water law attorney, James S. Witwer of Denver, believes at least 150 million gallons [570,000 cubic metres] and up to 600 million gallons [2.3 million cubic metres] of water will be lost from the Tallahassee Creek system every year if the project moves forward. (The Cañon City Daily Record Jan. 14, 2009)
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