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Possible uranium production by 2013

January 27, 2012

January 27, 2012

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News & Events

The Cibola Beacon released this article. Click here for original story.

CIBOLA COUNTY – Sometimes good, sometimes bad. That is what best describes the possibility of the area’s resumption of uranium production.

Today, things are looking good. The price per pound is up. In the most recent Pay Dirt, a magazine that serves the mining industry in the western United States, the spot price for uranium ore rose to about $73 per pound. However, following the tsunami disaster in Japan, which affected the nuclear industry world wide, the price dropped to less than $55 per pound. As of last week, uranium ore was approximately $55 per pound, according to Uranium Resources Industries Vice President Mathew Lueras.

Things are looking positive, said Lueras. The target date for production is mid-2013.

We currently have a favorable state regulatory environment, he emphasized in regard to the state’s new administration. “We are moving forward within the boundaries set by the state. We have every reason to believe that we will be successful,” he added.

At $55 per pound, Lueras said URI can be profitable.

It appears URI will be the first in decades to extract uranium. Section Eight at Church Rock will also be the first site for in-situ uranium mining in the state. The uranium industry had undergone some court processes because the Church Rock site was identified as Indian Country. However, an appeal by URI was ruled in favor of the company, meaning URI did not have to follow federal Environmental Protection Agency process but just has to follow the state’s standards. Now that all the court stuff is out of the way things are moving along very well, said Lueras.

The Church Rock mine means 100 to 150 jobs. We are currently looking for financial support and scheduling workshops – updating and preparing workers for construction and production, Lueras said.

Following Section Eight’s opening, the company is looking at opening another in-situ mine at Section 17.

The company will be allowed to extract one million pounds the first three years, giving it time to prove standards will be met. When that happens the company will have the opportunity to bump production up to three million pounds per year.

The Church Rock mine Section 8 is approximately 80 miles from Grants.

Currently, URI is undergoing its feasibility study.

Lastly, Lueras said, Our interest is sustainable long term production . . . 101 million pounds of ore will take a long time to extract.

URI has the right to 101 million pounds of uranium in this area and one-half million pounds in Texas. However, the uranium ore in Texas can be extracted fast and is less quality than the ore in this area, according to a company spokesman.

The company’s Texas plant shut down in 2009 due to the uranium market price but is currently undergoing restoration for production.

Nonetheless, mining companies in the area today are optimistic because the price per pound is steadily rising and the state’s regulatory process is favorable.