US nuclear medicine manufacturer International Isotopes Inc continues to make progress to build a commercial depleted uranium de-conversion and fluorine extraction processing facility in Hobbs, New Mexico.
The INIS de-conversion process will convert the DUF6 byproduct from uranium enrichment operations into depleted uranium tetrafluoride (DUF4). INIS will then use its fluorine extraction process to manufacture specialty, high-value fluoride gases. High purity fluoride gases are used in ion-implantation or chemical vapor deposition processes for microelectronics manufacture, high purity silicon for solar cells, and production of organic complexes for the petroleum industry.
The de-conversion and FEP facility constructed by INIS would be used to process depleted uranium hexafluoride produced from uranium enrichment facilities.
In terms of licencing, it plans to return all formal NRC requests for information by the end of February. The NRC estimates the licence review process will be finished by the end of 2011.
Following a formal tender, it has selected a preferred contractor, but not yet signed a contract. It estimates the project, from contract signing, will take a year to design and a year to construct and commission.
In parallel with these other activities the company has also been working to convert its Idaho FEP pilot facility from production of germanium tetrafluoride gas to boron trifluoride. Boron trifluoride (BTF) will be the main fluoride product from the new uranium facility. The Company reports it has not only converted the pilot plant to produce BTF, it has also developed the necessary laboratory analytical processes and conducted about a dozen small scale production runs.
Land transfer from New Mexico's Lea County Economic Development Corp, which gave the land, should be complete by the end of March.
While progress in all areas of the project has been significant, the Company acknowledges that the project total cost is expected to approach $120 million and the Company will need to raise additional funds to complete it. The Company envisions that a significant portion of the capital required for the project could be obtained through debt financing once those agreements are in place. On 29 December 2010 it filed for a US Department of Energy renewable energy loan.
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