Energy Fuels Inc. has been granted approval by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (“CDPHE”) of a Radioactive Materials License for the 500 ton per day Piñon Ridge Mill facility near Naturita, Colorado.
The company said that the license approval is the most significant hurdle to be completed before Energy Fuels is allowed to build and operate the first conventional uranium mill to be constructed in the US in 30 years.
Steve Antony, President and CEO of Energy Fuels commented, “With this major accomplishment, the Company now has a clear pathway to new conventional uranium production in the US and we will be shifting our focus to project financing, product sales and long-term strategic relationships with potential uranium buyers.”
Energy Fuels has two fully permitted nearby uranium mines, the Energy Queen and the Whirlwind which are currently on a care and maintenance program. The targeted production rate from these mines is approximately 450 tons per day and these mines will be the source of most of the uranium/vanadium ore for the new mill. Energy Fuels estimates that there is more than 40 years of mill feed, at a production rate of 500 tons per day, within economic trucking distance of the mill. In anticipation of a positive decision, the Company has already begun to consolidate certain known mines and deposits in the area and is in advanced discussions with other parties to acquire additional properties or arrange toll-milling agreements for their ore.
The Piñon Ridge Mill, when constructed, will create 85 direct jobs at the site. It will produce about 850,000 lbs. per year of yellowcake or U3O8. Additionally, the mill will produce about 3.7 million lbs. per year of vanadium pentoxide (V2O5), a material used primarily as an alloying agent in steelmaking and finding new application as an electrolyte in high capacity batteries for use in storing power generated by wind farms and solar generators in the renewable energy industry.
The Piñon Ridge Mill project was approved by the Energy Fuels Board of Directors in May of 2007. Land was acquired in July of 2007, and work started immediately to gather the necessary environmental baseline and site characterization data to support the license application. Basic engineering design of the mill was initiated soon afterward in the fall of 2007.
In July of 2008, the Company applied to Montrose County, Colorado, for its Special Use Permit, requesting that the land use designation for the 880 acre mill site be changed from “General Agricultural” to “Mineral Resource Operation Facility”. This county permitting process required Energy Fuels to work through three levels of County regulation including the West End Planning Advisory Committee, the Montrose County Planning Commission, and the Board of County Commissioners. There were a total of 6 public meetings with three separate project presentations and more than 30 hours of testimony from over 300 interested parties, including residents of Montrose County, and many from outside the County. On September 30, 2009, the Special Use Permit was unanimously approved by the County Commissioners of Montrose County.
The application for the license was submitted to CDPHE on November 18, 2009 and CDPHE found it to be complete on December 18, 2009. Technical review of the license application started immediately, and on April 21, 2010, CDPHE issued a news release establishing a deadline of January 17, 2011, for them to issue a decision on the license application.
In addition to the public hearings held as part of the Montrose County Special Use Permit approval, the CDPHE held seven meetings in western Colorado during its review process to obtain public input on Energy Fuels’ license application. As part of their technical review, CDPHE issued four separate comprehensive requests for additional information that were addressed by Energy Fuels in detailed response documents..
Energy Fuels has a wholly-owned Colorado subsidiary, Energy Fuels Resources Corporation, and a British Columbia subsidiary, Magnum Uranium Corp.