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(last updated 21 Nov 2014)


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Ambrosia Lake · Cebolleta · Churchrock (Strathmore) · Churchrock (HRI) · Crownpoint · Grants (Rio Grande) · Grants Ridge (UEC) · Hosta Butte · Juan Tafoya · La Jara Mesa · Peña Ranch · Roca Honda


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> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

New Mexico

> View New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division: News, Announcements and Public Notices external link · Pending Permit Applications external link

 

General

New Mexico Supreme Court upholds designation of Traditional Cultural Property status to Mount Taylor

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Thursday (Feb. 6) upheld a tribal cultural designation that protects hundreds of thousands of acres on Mount Taylor, which is known for its rich uranium reserves. The justices said the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee acted lawfully in 2009 when it granted the special designation for some 400,000 acres of public land on the western New Mexico mountain.
The court did, however, reverse the panel's inclusion of 19,000 acres of land grant property, saying it was not state land as defined in the Cultural Properties Act. (AP Feb. 6, 2014)
> Download New Mexico Supreme Court opinion Feb. 6, 2014 external link (PDF)

Forest Service issues Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental impact statement for exploratory uranium drilling on the Cibola National Forest, Mount Taylor Ranger District

The proposed action is to approve two Plans of Operations for exploratory uranium drilling on the Cibola National Forest, Mount Taylor Ranger District.
Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by 45 days after the publication of the NOI.
> Federal Register Volume 76, Number 236 (Thursday, December 8, 2011) p. 76689-76690 (download full text external link)
> View project details external link (Forest Service)

Court overturns designation of Traditional Cultural Property status to Mount Taylor

The designation of Mount Taylor as a "traditional cultural property" has been overturned by Fifth Judicial District Court Judge William Shoobridge. "The final order entered is reversed and remanded to the Cultural Properties Review Committee to designate Mount Taylor a Traditional Cultural Property," Judge Shoobridge concluded in his opinion late last week. (Cibola Beacon Feb 7, 2011)

State committee votes for Traditional Cultural Property status of Mount Taylor

The cultural and natural resources of New Mexico's Mount Taylor will now be protected by the state, ending a yearlong battle between American Indians and landowners all concerned about preserving their rights to use the mountain without interference. The state Cultural Properties Review Committee external link voted unanimously Friday (June 5) to list the mountain on the State Register of Cultural Properties, a state spokesman said.
The mountain, which as many as 30 Indian tribes consider sacred, is threatened by exploration and proposals for uranium mining. The mountain was listed among America's 11 most endangered historic places for 2009, which is compiled by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The protected area includes nearly 540 square miles around the 11,301-foot summit of the western New Mexico mountain down to surrounding mesa tops. (Newsday/AP June 5, 2009)

New Mexico House passes bill for creation of task force to look into uranium mining

On Feb. 23, 2009, the New Mexico House barely passed a bill that calls for the creation of a task force to look into uranium mining in the state. The House passed the measure 31-28 and it now goes to the Senate. State Rep. Patty Lundstrom, D-McKinley County, said the bill calls for the task force to prepare a report by October on the feasibility of bringing uranium mining back to the state. The task force would also look into existing state laws, she said, to make sure that they are adequate in handling the problems that could arise out of uranium mining. (Gallup Independent Feb. 24, 2009)
> Download bill information: HJM 6 - Create Uranium Mining Task Force external link

Study questions major economic benefit of renewed uranium mining in New Mexico

The New Mexico Environmental Law Center just released the results of an interesting investigation that examined whether or not renewed uranium mining would deliver an economic boom for New Mexico. Dr. Thomas M. Power, the natural resources economist from the University of Montana who conducted the study, found that New Mexico taxpayers will not see the $30 billion gain projected by the mining industry as a result of the growing demand for low enriched uranium (LEU) to power nuclear power reactors. In fact, Power discovered that taxpayers will potentially lose value due to the environmental impact of mining. (POGO Oct. 31, 2008)

> Download New Mexico Environmental Law Center press release Oct. 28, 2008 external link (PDF)
> Download report An Economic Evaluation of a Renewed Uranium Mining Boom in New Mexico external link, by Thomas Michael Power, Oct. 2008 (302k PDF)

State committee gives temporary protection to Mount Taylor

A state committee has approved a proposal from five American Indian tribes to give central New Mexico's Mount Taylor temporary protection as a cultural property at a contentious meeting attended by hundreds of people.
The state Cultural Properties Review Committee voted 4-2 on June 14, 2008, in Grants for an emergency listing of more than 422,000 acres (660 square miles) surrounding the mountain's summit on the state Register of Cultural Properties. The Navajo Nation, the Acoma, Laguna and Zuni pueblos and the Hopi tribe of Arizona asked the state to approve the listing for a mountain they consider sacred to protect it from an anticipated uranium mining boom, according to the nomination report. The listing lasts for a year, after which the committee would determine whether the mountain that can be seen from many regions of New Mexico should be listed permanently.
The meeting was held in Grants after the state attorney general's office ordered the committee to redo the meeting because staff had failed to adequately notify the public as required by the state's Open Meetings Act about the previous meeting in February. (Las Cruces Sun-News June 14, 2008)

Cibola County opposes Mount Taylor cultural listing

The Cibola County Commission has come out against an emergency listing of Mount Taylor in the State Register of Cultural Properties, a designation requested by five American Indian communities that consider the mountain sacred. Commissioners voted 4-1 on April 29, 2008, to oppose the listing in what was described by attendees as a "very heated" and sometimes racially charged meeting attended by hundreds of people. The Cultural Properties Review Committee had approved the designation for Mount Taylor in February 2008. The designation would make it more difficult for companies hoping to explore for uranium in the area to get necessary state exploration permits. (Las Cruces Sun-News Apr. 30, 2008)

Mount Taylor gets protection from preliminary state cultural register listing

The state Cultural Properties Review Committee external link has agreed to an emergency listing of Mount Taylor in the State Register of Cultural Properties at the request of five American Indian communities. The action would make it more difficult for uranium mining companies to obtain state exploration permits, while protecting a mountain that is considered sacred by tribes and pueblos in the area. The listing - agreed to in a rare special meeting on Feb. 22, 2008 - will protect Mount Taylor for a year while the committee investigates whether the area should be permanently listed in the register, the state Historic Preservation Division external link said in a news release.
The mountain is located near Grants, where uranium companies have been requesting exploration permits since April 2006 in preparation for mining 300 million pounds of known uranium [115,000 t U] in the Grants mineral belt. Acoma Pueblo was the lead sponsor to place the mountain on the State Register. The Zuni and Laguna pueblos, the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe joined Acoma. The tribes and pueblos have one year to persuade the committee to place the mountain on the register permanently.
Listing Mount Taylor in the State Register will require mining interests to obtain a standard permit and a full review by the state Historic Preservation Division before exploratory drilling can begin. Reviews by the state Environment Department, the Water Quality Division, state Game and Fish and other state agencies also will be required and tribal consultation with all interested tribes and pueblos included in the process, the news release said. (AP Feb. 23, 2008)

All Indian Pueblo Council adopts resolution against uranium mining in the Mt. Taylor area

On June 21, 2007, the All Indian Pueblo Council (AIPC) adopted a "Companion Resolution for the protection of Mt. Taylor and all sacred sites and cultural properties related to the Pueblos of Acoma and Laguna and the nineteen Pueblos of New Mexico" (Resolution 2007-12), deploring the
"significant and irreparable cultural and religious damages [that] have resulted from exploratory drilling and the failure of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department to consult with Acoma, the nineteen Pueblos, and other affected tribes prior to issuance of Roca Honda Exploration Project, Permit No. MKO14EM and La Jara Mesa Exploration Project, Permit No. C1008EM"
and supporting
"Acoma's demand for consultation with all regulatory agencies to determine probable impacts to regional groundwater, the La Jara and San Mateo Creek drainage areas, and cultural properties within the Acoma Cultural Province resulting from exploratory drilling"
and urging
"the appropriate federal and state agencies seek Congressional authorization to declare the land around Mt. Taylor, within the Acoma Cultural Province, unsuitable for mining activities due to its widespread cultural significance as a sacred site by all regional Tribes, including the nineteen Pueblos and the unique value of the area's hydrologic resources to northwestern New Mexico"
> Download Resolution 2007-12 external link (ADAMS ML072200045)

 

Cebolleta, Cibola County

> View deposit info

State solicits public comment on plan for collection of baseline data for proposed Cebolleta uranium mine: The Mining and Minerals Division is soliciting public comments on a sampling and analysis plan submitted by Neutron Energy, Inc., for the proposed Cebolleta uranium mine. The plan will guide the collection of baseline data that can be used in a permit application for a new mine.
Comments on the plan should be provided by Friday, June 8, 2012.
> View EMNRD release May 10, 2012 external link (PDF)
> Download Sampling and Analysis Plan external link

 

La Jara Mesa project, Cibola County

> View deposit info
> View Pending Mine Applications, Regular New: La Jara Mesa external link (NM EMNRD)
> View Cibola National Forest project page external link (USDA Forest Service)

 

The USDA Forest Service has released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the La Jara Mesa Mine Project for comment.
The comment period ends July 16, 2012.
> View EPA's Notice of Availability:
Federal Register Volume 77, Number 97 (Friday, May 18, 2012) p. 29636-29637 (download full text external link)
> Download Draft Environmental Impact Statement - La Jara Mesa Mine Project external link, March 2012 (5.7MB PDF)

Laramide Resources (USA) Inc. has submitted a Plan of Operations (the Plan) proposing to develop and conduct underground uranium mining operations on their mining claims on La Jara Mesa on the Mount Taylor Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest. La Jara Mesa is located approximately 10 miles northeast of the town of Grants in Cibola County, New Mexico.
The Cibola National Forest external link will prepare an environmental impact statement to assess the development of a uranium exploration and mining operation on the Mount Taylor Ranger District.
Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by 30 days after the publication of the NOI (May 13, 2009).

Federal Register: May 13, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 91) p. 22511-22512 (download full text external link)
Federal Register: May 14, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 92) p. 22726-22727 (download full text external link)

 

Juan Tafoya uranium mill project in Sandoval County

License application for Juan Tafoya uranium mill project deferred by another year: On Nov. 16, 2010, Neutron Energy Inc. (NEI) notified NRC that it anticipates submittal of a license application in the second quarter of 2012.

License application for Juan Tafoya uranium mill project deferred by more than one year: On Oct. 27, 2009, Neutron Energy Inc. (NEI) notified NRC of a change of its schedule for submittal of a Source Material License application for the proposed conventional uranium mill at Juan Tafoya: NEI currently anticipates submittal of an application in the first or second quarter 2011. NEI also noted that the proposed mill site would be in Sandoval County, New Mexico, not McKinley County as stated previously.

On March 25, 2008, Neutron Energy Inc. (NEI) notified NRC of its intent to submit a source material application for a new uranium mill processing facility to be located in McKinley County, New Mexico. NEI anticipates submitting a new license application as early as the fourth quarter of 2009.

 

Uranium Energy Corporation Grants Ridge project, Cibola County

On April 15, 2013, Uranium Energy Corporation (UEC) notified the NRC that the company withdraws the application for the project due to "the market conditions and lack of funding".

On Feb. 4, 2010, Uranium Energy Corporation (UEC) notified the NRC that the company now anticipates that it will be the 2nd quarter of 2011 before an application is submitted on Grants Ridge.

On Feb. 22, 2008, Uranium Energy Corporation (UEC) notified the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of its intent to submit a license application to construct and operate a conventional uranium recovery facility at UEC's Grants Ridge Project in Cibola County, New Mexico. UEC plans on submitting the license application by mid-summer of 2009.
The proposed uranium recovery project will involve conventional underground and surface mining and heap leach processing to produce uranium yellowcake product (U3O8). The heap leach operation will involve placing sized ore on double synthetically lined heap pads with leak detection systems. The fluids collected from the drains below the heaps will be processed using an ion exchange and precipitation circuit. In addition, filtering, drying and packaging will be performed at the project site, and the heaps will be reclaimed as 11.e(2) byproduct material.

 

Rio Grande Resources Corp uranium mill project in Grants Mineral District

On Nov. 10, 2010, Rio Grande Resources notified NRC of further delays with the license application.

On Dec. 15, 2009, Rio Grande Resources notified NRC that "The downturn in the uranium market following RGRs notice of intent has delayed the license application by at least one year."

On March 21, 2008, Rio Grande Resources notified NRC of its intent to submit a license application for a conventional uranium mill and tailings disposal facility in the vicinity of Mt. Taylor uranium mining properties in New Mexico. Current plans would anticipate an application to be developed and submitted during 2009/2010.

A site tour of the potential sites for Rio Grande Resources Corporation's uranium mill project in the Grants Mineral District will be held by NRC on April 26, 2007.
> Download NRC Meeting Notice April 10, 2007 external link (ADAMS Acc. No. ML071000189)

 

Roca Honda / Peña Ranch mine and mill project, McKinley County, Grants Mineral District

> View deposit info
> View Pending Mine Applications, Regular New: Roca Honda external link (NM EMNRD)

Peña Ranch uranium mill project abandoned: On Dec. 11, 2013, NRC informed Energy Fuels Inc. (now holding 100% of Strathmore) that it has ended all work on the licensing of the Peña Ranch mill project at the request of the company.

Protests in Albuquerque against Roca Honda uranium mine project: In an effort to oppose uranium mining from occurring at the base of Mount Taylor, protesters and environmentalists held poster signs for Albuquerque commuters to see that read "Protect Mt. Taylor," "Stop contaminating indigenous lands" and "Uranium harms communities."
Staked out near the office of the Cibola National Forest and Grasslands, at the intersection of Osuna Road and Chappell Road, the group got the attention of motorists driving this route during the rush hour traffic as they honked their horns in support of the anti-uranium mining message. (Cibola Beacon May 21, 2013)

U.S. Forest Service releases Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Roca Honda uranium mine in Cibola National Forest
Submit comments by June 16, 2013 (comment period extended).
> Federal Register Volume 78, Number 51 (Friday, March 15, 2013) p. 16483-16485 (download full text external link)
> Federal Register Volume 78, Number 91 (Friday, May 10, 2013) p. 27374 (download full text external link)
> Download Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Roca Honda Mine, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Feb. 2013: Forest Service external link · Strathmore external link (8.9MB PDF)

The Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment external link (MASE) filed more than 500 pages of comments with the U. S. Forest Service on June 13. The citizen-based group is an environmental advocacy organization that has focused its efforts on the uranium mining industry. The document urged the federal agency to choose the "No Action" alternative when evaluating the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Roca Honda uranium mine near Grants. (Cibola Beacon July 2, 2013)
> See also: MASE's petition "Do not start uranium mining on Mt. Taylor" external link. The petition urges the Acting Forest Supervisor to choose the "No Action" Alternative in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

 

On Jan. 17, 2013, Strathmore Minerals Corp. notified the NRC that they "now anticipate submittal of the license application to the NRC in the fourth quarter of 2013."

Favourable Preliminary Economic Assessment announced for Roca Honda uranium mine project ... provided that uranium price rises: On Oct. 24, 2012, Strathmore announced a favourable Preliminary Economic Assessment and an updated resource estimate for the Roca Honda project. However, the PEA assumes a uranium sales price of US$ 75 per lb U3O8, while the current spot price is US$ 43.50, and the long-term price is US$ 60.50 per lb U3O8. And, the new resource estimate is lower than the previous one, due to the restriction of mining to higher ore grades.
> Calculate Mine Feasibility

On Feb. 8, 2012, Strathmore confirmed that they still plan on submitting a license application for a conventional mill by end of fiscal year 2012.

On Nov. 19, 2010, Strathmore Minerals Corp. notified the NRC "of its intent to submit a license application for a conventional uranium mill and tailings disposal operation [...] in mid to late 2012".

Comments invited on scope of Environmental Impact Statement for Roca Honda uranium mine in Cibola National Forest: The Cibola National Forest will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to assess the development of a uranium mining operation on the Mount Taylor Ranger District.
Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by 30 days after the publication of the NOI.
Federal Register: November 24, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 226) p. 71668-71669 (download full text external link)
According to the Cibola National Forest's Scoping Letter of Dec. 1, 2010, the scoping period will occur from Nov. 24, 2010, to January 14, 2011, rather than the 30-day period announced in the Federal Register.
> View Cibola National Forest NEPA Projects - Roca Honda LLC Project - Exploration and Mine Development external link

On Mar. 11, 2010, Strathmore Minerals Corp. announced that a Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS) has been commissioned to evaluate the overall project economics of the proposed Roca Honda underground uranium mine in New Mexico.

On Oct. 27, 2009, Strathmore Minerals Corp. announced that it has submitted a mine permit application for the proposed development of its Roca Honda underground uranium project in the Grants Mineral District, New Mexico. This property, which is situated on public lands managed by the US Forest Service and the State of New Mexico, is held by Strathmore and Sumitomo Corporation of Japan, in their jointly owned subsidiary Roca Honda Resources LLC (RHR). The application was submitted to the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (Mines and Minerals Division) and the US Forest Service (Cibola National Forest) on October 23rd, 2009.
> Download mine permit application external link (NM EMNRD)

On July 23, 2009, Strathmore CEO David Miller sent the following inquiry to U.S. Senator John Barrasso (ADAMS Acc. No. ML092230238 external link):

"[...] We are contemplating working with a Chinese company and have a few questions. [...] Are there any restrictions for a Chinese company to own part of an American corporation that operates a uranium mine and/or uranium mill? Additionally, Strathmore is interested in selling US origin uranium to China and wondered if there were any restrictions. [...]"

On April 24, 2009, the New Mexico Energy Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) announced that the Mining and Minerals Division is soliciting public comments on a sampling and analysis plan submitted by Roca Honda Resources, LLC for the proposed Roca Honda uranium mine. The plan will guide the collection of baseline data that can be used in a permit application for a new mine. The proposed Roca Honda Mine would be located on Cibola National Forest land and State trust land in McKinley County approximately 2 to 3 miles northwest of the village of San Mateo, and approximately 16 miles northeast of Grants, New Mexico.
Comments should be provided by May 29, 2009.
> Download EMNRD news release April 24, 2009 external link (PDF)
> Download Sampling and Analysis Plan, April 2009 external link

On March 18, 2009, Strathmore notified the NRC that it anticipates the submittal of the license application in 2011.

On July 26, 2007, Strathmore Minerals Corp announced that it has completed a joint venture agreement to develop its Roca Honda project in New Mexico with Sumitomo Corp of Japan (Sumitomo's subsidiary JCO Co. Ltd. was responsible for the 1999 Tokai criticality accident).

On April 23, 2007, Strathmore Resources, U.S. Ltd issued to NRC a Notice of Intent "to submit a license application for a uranium In-Situ Recovery (ISR) operation and/or a conventional uranium mill and tailings disposal facilities to be located in the vicinity of Strathmore's Roca Honda uranium mining properties in New Mexico".

A site tour of the potential uranium mill sites for Strathmore Minerals Corp.'s Roca Honda uranium mill project will be held by NRC on April 26, 2007.
> Download NRC Meeting Notice April 10, 2007 external link (ADAMS Acc. No. ML071000189)

On Nov. 20, 2006, Strathmore Minerals Corp. announced that it has purchased 620 acres of land in the Ambrosia Lake uranium mining district northwest of Grants, New Mexico, for a potential uranium mill site for its Roca Honda project.

On Sep. 5, 2006, Strathmore Minerals Corp. announced that it has initiated the mining permit application process for its Roca Honda deposit. As part of its data gathering efforts, Strathmore has completed, commissioned or is planning feasibility studies, which includes conventional mining and milling operations, a Cultural Resource Clearance Survey, and baseline environmental reports.

 

Churchrock (Strathmore) project (ISL)

> View deposit info

On April 5, 2011, Strathmore Minerals Corp. announced final receipt of the Church Rock Scoping Study undertaken by Behre Dolbear and Company (USA), Inc. The scoping study evaluated the extraction of uranium by both In-Situ Recovery (ISR) and conventional underground techniques. The study concluded that the exploitation of Strathmore's Church Rock uranium resource is most economic using ISR methods. However, the Resource Estimate and the Scoping Study for the Church Rock Property were subsequently retracted.

Scoping study commissioned for Strathmore's Church Rock uranium deposit: On Jan. 11, 2011, Strathmore Minerals Corp. announced that it has contracted Behre Dolbear and Company (USA), Inc. to complete a scoping study, also known as a preliminary economic assessment, for the Company's Church Rock uranium deposit, located in McKinley County, New Mexico. Behre Dolbear will prepare a phased study that will evaluate the extraction of uranium by both In-Situ Recovery (ISR) and conventional underground techniques.

On Sept. 1, 2005, Strathmore Minerals Corp. announced that its Santa Fe, New Mexico, uranium mine development office has commissioned a Cultural Resource Clearance Survey of Strathmore's Church Rock in-situ uranium property in McKinley County, New Mexico.

 

Churchrock (HRI) / Crownpoint project (ISL), McKinley County

> View deposit info: Churchrock · Crownpoint

Uranium mining in Crownpoint is being opposed by The Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM).

 

Navajo Nation Council rescinds Crownpoint uranium in situ leach mine

The Navajo Nation Council has rescinded a standing committee resolution that granted a uranium mining company permission to operate a demonstration uranium recovery project on tribal land. In December, the Resources and Development Committee passed a resolution that acknowledged Uranium Resources Inc.'s right-of-way and surface and mineral access rights to its site in Church Rock, located east of Gallup.
Although the land is licensed to Uranium Resources Inc. by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the company still needed the tribe's approval to cross 30 feet of tribal land to enter the property, which would have been used for an in situ uranium recovery project. (Farmington Daily Times July 22, 2014)

 

Navajo Nation committee acknowledges right-of-way and surface use for Crownpoint uranium in situ leach mine

The Navajo Nation Council Resources and Development Committee acknowledged the right-of-way and surface use at its Churchrock properties licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A new right-of-way agreement is one more step to help pave the way for a new uranium mine on the Navajo Nation.
On Monday (Dec. 23), the Navajo Nation Council Resources and Development Committee acknowledged the right-of-way and surface use at its Churchrock properties licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The original rights-of-way were granted to the Santa Fe Pacific Railroad in 1929 and the access rights were passed to Uranium Resources Inc. (Albuquerque Business Dec. 24, 2013)

 

License renewal for Crownpoint uranium in situ leach mine project

License renewal for Crownpoint uranium in situ leach mine project on hold: On Nov. 13, 2014, NRC notified Hydro Resources Inc. (HRI) that it will place its review of the license renewal application in abeyance, since HRI has requested additional time to complete its discussions with the Navajo Nation Council and to submit the anticipated revised license renewal application.

NRC releases Environmental Report for license renewal of Crownpoint uranium in situ leach mine project:
> Download: Environmental Report external link, March 2013
> Download: Environmental Report Addenda and Consolidated Operations Plan external link (April 12, 2013)

 

Local Navajo Chapter supports uranium in situ leach demonstration project at Church Rock: Last month, the Church Rock Chapter passed a resolution supporting URI's remediation of the Section 17 site, also located in the chapter's boundaries, and the development of an in-situ recovery demonstration project on the Section 8 site. URI and its subsidiary Hydro Resources Inc. have a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license to develop and operate an in-situ recovery project on the section 8 and 17 properties, land just outside the Navajo reservation's boundary. The chapter passed the resolution on Jan. 20 with 68 community members in favor, 26 opposed, and 16 abstained. (Navajo Times Feb. 14, 2013)

Positive feasibility study announced for Churchrock Section 8 uranium in situ leach mine project: On Dec. 31, 2012, Uranium Resources, Inc. (URI) announced the results of a feasibility study for its Churchrock Section 8 project.
> Calculate Section 8 mine feasibility

URI defers construction of Churchrock Section 8 uranium in situ leach mine project due to "challenging market environment": On Nov. 9, 2012, Uranium Resources, Inc. (URI) announced it is deferring the construction plans for its Churchrock Section 8 project. The company continues to refine the feasibility study performed on Section 8 and expects to release a summary of the study in December 2012.

Study expects no impacts from Churchrock uranium in situ leach mine project on Navajo water supply: On Oct. 31, 2012, Uranium Resources, Inc. (URI) announced the positive findings resulting from the Section 8 / Navajo-Gallup Groundwater Report and Conjunctive Use Evaluation for its Churchrock Section 8 uranium in-situ recovery project.
The study results indicate that existing Gallup, Fort Wingate, Rehoboth and Navajo Nation water wells will not be impacted by Section 8 ISR activities, during mining operations or into the future. Moreover, the evaluation concluded that there is no discernible risk that ISR activities would adversely affect groundwater allocated for the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project.

EPA revisits permit for Church Rock ISL uranium mine project: In a move environmental groups call "unprecedented," the Environmental Protection Agency is reconsidering a decades-old permit for a proposed uranium mine near Church Rock.
Uranium Resources Incorporated's spokesman Matt Lueras says the company hopes to start production at its Church Rock mine by the end of 2013. That is, assuming the EPA doesn't revoke a necessary permit known as an aquifer exemption. Lueras says the mine's 1989 permit was granted based on the fact that the groundwater in question is already undrinkable due to the levels of uranium found naturally in the ground.
But Eric Jantz with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center external link says the permit was based on limited and misleading water quality data. And now the Law Center is helping the group Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining petition for a revocation of the permit. So far, the groups' online petition has gathered close to 10,000 signatures. (KUMN May 9, 2012)

NRC reactivates license for Crownpoint in situ leach mine after 11 years on hold: On Oct. 18, 2011, Uranium Resources, Inc. (URI) announced that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reactivated its Source Materials License to conduct in-situ recovery (ISR) uranium mining in McKinley County, New Mexico. The license, which was originally issued in 1998 to Hydro Resources, Inc., Uranium Resources' wholly-owned subsidiary, has been in timely renewal status since 2003. The reactivation effectively enables the use of the license by the Company for the production of uranium as defined in the license.
URI will now proceed to renew the license for a standard 10-year term. During the renewal process, the active license may be utilized according to its present terms and conditions, which allows for the production of up to 1 million pounds per year from Churchrock Section 8 until a successful commercial demonstration of restoration is made, after which mining on other properties can begin and the quantity of production can be increased to 3 million pounds per year.
> Download NRC letter to Hydro Resources, Inc., Oct. 14, 2011 external link (lifting prohibition on HRI's use of NRC license SUA-1580, imposed by the Commission on May 25, 2000, in CLI-00-08)

Groups file suit to halt uranium mining in Churchrock and Crownpoint: Groups against uranium mining in Church Rock and Crownpoint are suing the state Environment Department external link. They claim the department wrongly gave the go-ahead for mining-related activity while a groundwater discharge permit application is pending. The complaint was filed Friday (July 15) in state District Court in Santa Fe external link and alleges the department sidestepped the normal regulatory process in the case of Hydro Resources Inc. Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining asked the court to block any mining-related activity until the department makes a decision on the application. (Daily Reporter July 18, 2011)

The target date for production at the Churchrock ISL mine is mid-2013, according to Uranium Resources Inc.'s Vice President Mathew Lueras. At the current spot price for uranium of $55 per pound, Lueras said URI can be profitable. (Cibola Beacon June 30, 2011)

Navajo Group to take challenge on Crownpoint uranium mine to Human Rights Commission: In a last attempt to deep-six a controversial project to mine uranium near two Navajo communities in northwestern New Mexico, a Navajo environmental group is taking its fight to the global stage.
Tomorrow, Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining, with the help of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, will submit a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights external link arguing that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's decision to grant Hydro Resources Inc., a license to mine uranium ore near Churchrock and Crown Point, N.M., is a violation of international laws.
The groups contend the mines, first permitted by NRC in 1999, could contaminate drinking water for 15,000 Navajo residents in and around the two communities, which lie just outside the Navajo Nation. In 2005, the Navajo's tribal government passed a law prohibiting uranium mining within its borders. (The New York Times May 12, 2011)

On Nov. 15, 2010, Uranium Resources, Inc. announced that the United States Supreme Court external link has denied the opponents' petition to review the March 2010, 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling that upheld the Company's U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission license to conduct in-situ recovery (ISR) uranium mining at the Churchrock/Crownpoint project.

The New Mexico Environmental Law Center filed an appeal Wednesday (Sep. 15) asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court's decision toallow (ISL) uranium mining in the Four Corners region of New Mexico. That decision threatens the safety of all of the residents in the area with nuclear contamination as the mine endangers the sole source of drinking water for approximately 15,000 people in the Crownpoint and Church Rock communities, the NMELC said in a statement. (New Mexico Independent Sep. 16, 2010)

On July 22, 2010, Uranium Resources, Inc. (URI) announced that it plans to begin uranium production in New Mexico by the first half of 2013. However, the Tenth Circuit decision is still subject to the EPA and the Navajo seeking review at the United States Supreme Court.

On June 15, 2010, the full 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled in a 6-5 decision that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency erred when it determined that a parcel of land near the Navajo community of Church Rock was Indian land. The decision means that Hydro Resources Inc. can seek an underground injection control permit from the state of New Mexico rather than the EPA, which has permitting authority on tribal lands. (AP June 16, 2010)

> Download Court Opinion June 15, 2010, Case No. 07-9506 external link (PDF)

On May 18, 2010, the 10th U.S. Court of Appeals has refused to review a ruling upholding a federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission decision that will allow Hydro Resources Inc. to leach uranium at an aquifer that supplies drinking water for 15,000 Navajos in northwestern New Mexico. (Examiner May 19, 2010)

On Mach 8, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit denied the petition by Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM), Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC), and two local ranchers for review of URI's NRC license to conduct in situ leach uranium mining at four locations in McKinley County, New Mexico and upheld the NRC's licensing decision in a 2-1 ruling.
Circuit Judge Carlos F. Lucero issued a dissenting statement:

"Because the majority's decision in this case will unnecessarily and unjustifiably compromise the health and safety of the people who currently live within and immediately downwind from Section 17, I must respectfully dissent. For thirty years, the United Nuclear Corporation ("UNC") mined Section 17. When it abandoned the mine, it failed to undertake a basic responsibility: cleaning up after itself. UNC left behind mining spoil that continuously emits gamma radiation and radon. Now, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ("NRC") has granted a license to Hydro Resources, Inc. ("HRI") to mine the same property. HRI plans to mine the site, which will result in total radiation levels nine to fifteen times the permitted regulatory limit. [...]"
> Download Court Opinion Mar. 8, 2010, Case No. 07-9505 external link (PDF)

On Aug. 24, 2009, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the request from Hydro Resources Inc. for an en banc review regarding its ruling on April 17, 2009 that determined URI's Section 8 in Churchrock, New Mexico is Indian Country.
> Download Court Opinion Aug. 24, 2009, Case No. 07-9506 external link (PDF)

On June 1, 2009, Uranium Resources, Inc., announced that it plans to file a petition with the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for an en banc review regarding its ruling on April 17, 2009 that determined URI's Section 8 in Churchrock, New Mexico is Indian Country and, therefore, comes under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) for the issuance of an Underground Injection Control Permit (UIC).

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on April 17, 2009, upheld an Environmental Protection Agency ruling that a proposed uranium mine in western New Mexico is on American Indian land. A three-judge panel denied a petition from New Mexico-based Hydro Resources Inc. challenging a 2007 EPA decision that an area where the company hoped to develop in-situ uranium leach mines is in "dependent Indian Country." The ruling means Hydro Resources must get a groundwater injection permit from the EPA, rather than use a state permit the company already has received. (AP April 17, 2009)
> Download Court Opinion April 17, 2009, Case No. 07-9506 external link (PDF)

A proposed in-situ leach uranium mining project near Churchrock is on hold, according to Rick Van Horn, chief operating officer of Uranium Resources Inc. With spot uranium prices down, Uranium Resources Inc., parent company of HRI-Churchrock Inc., is still awaiting a decision from the 10th Circuit Court in Denver regarding an underground injection control permit.
On Dec. 5, 2006, Hydro Resources Inc, or HRI, entered into a joint venture with a wholly owned subsidiary of Itochu, one of Japan's largest trading companies, to develop its Churchrock property in New Mexico. Under terms of the joint venture, both parties had until April 2, 2007, to make a preliminary investment decision and over the past two years, mutually agreed to extend the date for the decision. However, earlier this month URI received notification that Itochu had terminated the joint venture. (Gallup Independent March 27, 2009)

On May 12, 2008, on behalf of the Navajo communities of Crownpoint and Church Rock, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center external link will present oral arguments to a panel of judges of the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals external link in Denver asking that the NRC decision to allow the uranium mining be set aside. The communities' case is being presented with the assistance of the community group Eastern Navajo Diné against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM), and the Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC). ENDAUM is the first community group ever to fight the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on a source materials permit for an in situ leach uranium mine.(ENS Apr. 20, 2008)

At the occasion of an NRC hearing held on Apr. 24, 2007, at HRI's Crownpoint office, approx. 30 protestors showed up demanding an end to uranium mining. (Gallup Independent Apr. 27, 2007)

A petition filed on Feb. 12, 2007, in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court in Denver asks the court to reverse Nuclear Regulatory Commission orders in the past several years over proposals by Hydro Resources Inc. to mine uranium near the two communities. The petitioners also want the court to revoke the NRC's license to Hydro Resources. The petition, which lists NRC rulings dating back to 1999, argues that the NRC violated the Atomic Energy Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and its own regulations.
Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining, the Albuquerque-based Southwest Research and Information Center and Grace Sam and Marilyn Morris of Pinedale, near the proposed Church Rock mine, filed the petition after losing their fight to overturn the NRC's uranium mining license to Hydro Resources. (Santa Fe New Mexican Feb. 12, 2007)
> Download ENDAUM petition Feb. 9, 2007 (Case File No. 07-9505): NRC ADAMS Acc. No. ML071310368 external link · New Mexico Environmental Law Center external link (PDF)

The US Environmental Protection Agency has ruled that a 160-acre parcel near Church Rock is "Indian Country." New Mexico-based Hydro Resources Incorporated owns the surface and mineral rights to the 160 acres and the company wants to mine the area for uranium. The EPA decision means Hydro Resources would have to apply for a federal permit, not a state permit. (AP Feb. 9, 2007)
HRI appealed the decision. (Gallup Independent Feb. 26, 2007)

On Dec. 14, 2006, NRC denied a petition by ENDAUM, SRIC, et al. to review earlier decisions in favour of Hydro Resources Inc.'s Crownpoint Uranium Solution Mining Project.
> Memorandum and Order CLI-06-29: View HTML external link · Download PDF external link (NRC)

On May 16, 2006, NRC affirmed that existing radiation from mining waste left at the site by previous owners amounts to "background radiation" and does not count toward the 0.1 rem [1 mSv] dose limit applicable to new in situ facility licenses.
CLI-06-14 Memorandum and Order, May 16, 2006: View HTML external link · Download PDF external link

On Jan. 6, 2006, an NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board issued a decision (LBP-06-01) denying Intervenors' challenges relating to radiological air emissions at Section 17 of the Crownpoint ISL project.
> Download LBP-06-01 external link (PDF)

U.S. EPA is seeking comment on possible Indian country status of the land to be used for the Churchrock uranium in-situ leach mine:
Federal Register: November 2, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 211) p. 66402-66403 (download full text external link)

SUMMARY: EPA must determine whether any of the approximately 160 acres of land located in the southeast portion of Section 8, Township 16N, Range 16W, in the State of New Mexico, is part of a dependent Indian community under 18 U.S.C. 1151(b) and, thus, considered to be ''Indian country.'' This determination is necessary in order to establish whether EPA or the New Mexico Environment Department is the appropriate agency to issue a particular underground injection control permit under the Safe Drinking Water Act. EPA is seeking comments and information from the public and all interested parties regarding the possible Indian country status of this land and is considering whether to hold a public hearing on the matter.

DATES: Comments and information on this matter, and any request that a public hearing be held, must be received by January 3, 2006. [...]

On July 20, 2005, an NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board issued a decision (LBP-05-17), reducing the secondary groundwater restoration standard for uranium from 0.44 mg/L to 0.03 mg/L (equivalent to EPA's drinking water standard), and demanding changes to the Restoration Action Plan:

"This decision resolves the issues embodied in the first category of challenges. For the reasons set forth below, I find with the concurrence of Dr. Richard Cole and Dr. Robin Brett, who have been appointed Special Assistants that HRI has demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that the intervenors' challenges relating to groundwater protection, groundwater restoration, and surety estimates do not provide a basis for invalidating HRI's license to perform ISL uranium mining at Section 17, Crownpoint, and Unit 1. However, I direct that
(1) HRI's license be revised to reduce the secondary groundwater restoration standard for uranium from 0.44 mg/L to 0.03 mg/L, and
(2) HRI's Restoration Action Plan be revised to include a cost estimate for expenses associated with disposal site unloading, surveying, and decontamination."
The related License Amendment No.3 was issued on March 16, 2006.

On August 22, 2002, HRI requested a license renewal for the Crownpoint project (SUA-1580) for a second term from January 6, 2003 through January 5, 2008.
See also Federal Register: December 16, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 241), p. 77084-77085 (download full text external link)

On November 21, 2001, HRI submitted the Restoration Action Plan for Crownpoint; it was approved by NRC on December 20, 2001.
On September 17, 2001, HRI submitted the Restoration Action Plan for Crownpoint Unit One; it was approved by NRC on October 16, 2001.
On July 24, 2001, HRI submitted the Restoration Action Plan for the Church Rock Section 17 site; it was approved by NRC approved on August 22, 2001.

On Nov. 21, 2000, HRI submitted the requested Restoration Action Plan for the Church Rock Section 8 site of the proposed Crownpoint Uranium Project. On Feb. 27, 2004, an NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board panel found at the request of intervenors Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) and Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC) that the associated financial assurance plan was inadequate. HRI thus still can't conduct any ISL mining.
> Download LBP-04-03, LB MEMORANDUM AND ORDER (Ruling on Restoration Action Plan), Feb. 27, 2004 external link (PDF)

On May 25, 2000, the NRC, at the request of The Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM), the Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC external link), and others, put Hydro Resources' license on hold:

"Based on our review of LBP-99-13, the briefs filed in response to CLI-99-22, and other germane portions of the record, we conclude that HRI has failed thus far to submit an adequate financial assurance plan and that, until it does, it cannot use the license it has received from the NRC. We therefore add an additional condition to HRI's license prohibiting use of the license until an NRC-approved financial assurance plan is in place." (NRC Memorandum and Order CLI-00-08, available through ADAMS external link)

On January 19, 2000 the Navajo Nation lifted its 1983 uranium mining moratorium for in-situ leaching (details).

On October 19, 1999, the State of New Mexico approved the water rights application for HRI's Churchrock In-Situ Leach mining project in northwest New Mexico.

On August 20, 1999, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety Licensing Board (ASLB) upheld the source materials license previously issued to HRI Inc. for its Crownpoint uranium in-situ leach project. In a decision denying the relief sought by intervenor groups seeking to invalidate HRI's license, the ASLB administrative law judge concluded, "the ISL mining project on Church Rock Section 8, with the license conditions imposed on it by the Staff of the Commission, does not pose a credible threat to the environment or to human health and safety." (URI Aug. 24, 1999)

On January 23, 1998, an administrative law judge with the NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) ordered a temporary stay of the HRI license awarded by the NRC staff on January 5. The judge's order was in response to a January 15 motion filed by Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) and Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC) seeking a stay of the license until ASLB holds an evidentiary hearing and NRC completes historic and cultural site reviews pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act.
On April 2, 1998, the Presiding Officer of the ASLB issued a Memorandum and Order denying the petitioners' motion for stay and request for prior Hearing, lifting the temporary stay, and denying motions to strike and for leave to reply in the ongoing Subpart L proceeding (10 CFR 2.1263) regarding the matter of HRI.

On January 5, 1998, Hydro Resources Inc. received a license for its proposed uranium in-situ leaching facilities at Churchrock and Crownpoint, New Mexico. [NRC Press Release No.98-01]

On December 5, 1997, NRC had issued its safety evaluation report for the Crownpoint project (NRC press release 97-179 external link). The safety evaluation report concluded that, if certain specified conditions are met, issuance of a license will not be inimical to public health and safety or to the common and defense and security, and will meet the requirements of NRC regulations and the Atomic Energy Act.
> View Safety Evaluation Report (125k) external link, or Download (175k, PDF) external link

In March 1997, NRC, BLM, and BIA had issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the Crownpoint project as NUREG-1508. In this FEIS, NRC staff concluded that potential impacts of the project can be mitigated and the license should be issued.
> View NRC Press Release No.97-047, March 21, 1997 external link
> Federal Register, March 21, 1997 (Vol.62, No.55), p.13725-13726 external link
> Download FEIS NUREG-1508 external link (ADAMS Acc. No. ML082170248)
For an Errata to this FEIS, see Federal Register: Nov.18, 1997 (Vol.62, No.222), p.61556-61557 external link

In its comments on the Crownpoint Final EIS, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated "EPA continuous to express concern regarding pressure control of groundwater in old mine workings, hydrogeologic monitoring and aquifer testing and analysis, baseline water quality, injection well design, aquifer restoration, wildlife and mitigation, waste management and emergency response, and indemnification to the federal government by the project proponent." [Federal Register, October 31, 1997 (Vol. 62, No. 211), p. 58969-58970 external link]

> View details on the Crownpoint uranium ISL project and its impacts.

 

Hosta Butte project (ISL)

NZU Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of New Mexico and Arizona Land Co., announces the development of its Hosta Butte, New Mexico, uranium deposit for in-situ leach mining. [Fresh Fuel, March 4, 1996]

 

Ambrosia Lake

On March 21, 2008, Rio Algom Mining, LLC notified the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of its intent to submit a license amendment application to NRC License No. SUA-1473 to permit the construction and operation of a conventional uranium mill, including ion-exchange (IX) resin stripping and elution facilities, at the Ambrosia Lake site in Grants, New Mexico.

On Oct. 12, 2007, Uranium Resources, Inc. announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with BHP Billiton to acquire 100% of the ownership of Rio Algom Mining LLC. The purchase includes the NRC-licensed Ambrosia Lake mill site. The Company will also acquire the licensed Lisbon mill site south of Moab, Utah. The planned Ambrosia Lake mill will have the capacity to process up to 8,000 tons of uranium ore per day.

 

> View decommissioning issues

 

Rio Algom is also reported to be planning to increase production at Ambrosia Lake, New Mexico, with production expected to increase over the next four years to 300,000 pounds U3O8 (115 tU) per year from the 1995 output of over 130,000 pounds U3O8 (50 tU). [UI News Briefing 96/35]


 

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