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(last updated 28 Apr 2015)
> Download New Mexico Environmental Law Center press release Oct. 28, 2008 (PDF)
> Download report An Economic Evaluation of a Renewed Uranium Mining Boom in New Mexico , by Thomas Michael Power, Oct. 2008 (302k PDF)
"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 (ADAMS ML072200045)
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 (PDF)
> Download Sampling and Analysis Plan
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 )
> Download Draft Environmental Impact Statement - La Jara Mesa Mine Project , 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 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 )
Federal Register: May 14, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 92) p. 22726-22727 (download full text )
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.
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.
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 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML071000189)
Energy Fuels issues updated Preliminary Economic Assessment for Roca Honda uranium mine, assuming 66% higher than current uranium price:
On March 19, 2015, Energy Fuels issued a Technical Report containing an updated Preliminary Economic Assessment for the Roca Honda underground uranium mine with processing at the White Mesa Mill rather than at the formerly planned Peña Ranch mill. The PEA assumes a uranium price of US$ 65 per U3O8.
> Calculate Mine Feasibility
Public scoping comments invited on proposal for bringing treated Roca Honda uranium mine water to Rio San Jose via 26-mile pipeline:
The goal of a March 11 Open House was to share information about adding a new Alternative to the 2013 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Operating the mine would require Energy Fuels LLC, Roca Honda Resources LLC owner, to continuously remove significant volumes of water, which originate in the Westwater Canyon sandstone formation, from 2,000 feet below the surface where the uranium is located. Once brought to the surface the water would be treated using an ion exchange system and would meet the State of New Mexico drinking water standards, and then be further tested for contaminates before being piped approximately 26 miles from the mine site and released into the Rio San Jose, according to EF officials.
The deadline for submitting public scoping comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is April 25, 2015. (Cibola Beacon Mar. 13, 2015)
> View Cibola National Forest release Feb. 20, 2015
> Download Scoping Letter and Maps for Alternative 4, Feb. 20, 2015 (933k PDF)
> Download FAQs for Alternative 4, Mar. 16, 2015 (73k PDF)
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 )
> Federal Register Volume 78, Number 91 (Friday, May 10, 2013) p. 27374 (download full text )
> Download Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Roca Honda Mine, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Feb. 2013: Forest Service · Strathmore (8.9MB PDF)
The Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (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" . 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.
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 )
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
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 (NM EMNRD)
On July 23, 2009, Strathmore CEO David Miller sent the following inquiry to U.S. Senator John Barrasso (ADAMS Acc. No. ML092230238 ):
"[...] 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 (PDF)
> Download Sampling and Analysis Plan, April 2009
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 (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.
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.
> View deposit info: Churchrock · Crownpoint
Uranium mining in Crownpoint is being opposed by The Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM).
NRC releases Environmental Report for license renewal of Crownpoint uranium in situ leach mine project:
> Download: Environmental Report , March 2013
> Download: Environmental Report Addenda and Consolidated Operations Plan (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 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 (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 . 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 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 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 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 to allow (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 (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 (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 (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 (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 will present oral arguments to a panel of judges of the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals 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 · New Mexico Environmental Law Center (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
> Memorandum and Order CLI-06-29: Download PDF (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: Download PDF
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 (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 )
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 thatThe related License Amendment No.3 was issued on March 16, 2006.
(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."
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 )
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 (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 ), 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 )
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 ). 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
> View Safety Evaluation Report (125k) , or Download (175k, PDF)
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
> Federal Register, March 21, 1997 (Vol.62, No.55), p.13725-13726
> Download FEIS NUREG-1508 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML082170248)
For an Errata to this FEIS, see Federal Register: Nov.18, 1997 (Vol.62, No.222), p.61556-61557
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 ]
> View details on the Crownpoint uranium ISL project and its impacts.
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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