Uranium One Inc (U1), part of Russia's state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, stopped production at the Willow Creek mine in Wyoming, USA, on 9 July as part of the facility's transition to conservation, U1 reported in August.
The current design capacity of the mine is 1.3 million pounds of uranium dioxide (an intermediate product of processing natural uranium) or 500 tons of uranium a year. The mine was commissioned in May 2012. However, the low price of uranium meant that work to drill new wells and equip geotechnical landfills in 2017-2018 was not carried out.
The report notes that in July the US Secretary of Commerce accepted a petition filed in January 2018 by two uranium mining companies, UR-Energy and Energy Fuels which asked for a determination as to whether a significant amount of uranium imports is a threat to US national security.
The US Department of Commerce in July also launched an investigation into this appeal. The investigation covers all stages of uranium production - from ore mining to enrichment to use in defence and industrial purposes. "If, as a result of the investigation, the US Department of Commerce comes to the conclusion that the security risk exists and imposes restrictions on imports, this could affect the sale of uranium supplied from the Uranium
One joint venture in Kazakhstan to the US market," the report said.
Uranium One, one of the world's largest uranium mining companies, is registered in Canada. In Kazakhstan, it owns 70% of Betpak Dala JV (Akdala and South Inkai projects), 50% in Karatau JV and 30% in JV Kyzylkum (Kharasan), 50% of Akbastau JV and 49.67% of JV "Zarechnoye" (actually Zarechnoye and developed by South Zarechnoye). In the USA, Uranium One owns 100% of the current Willow Creek project. The company also operates Mantra Resources. The main shareholder of Uranium One Inc is Uranium One Holding NV and Uranium One Group, part of the Uranium One division of Rosatom.
In 2017, U1 increased uranium production in the USA by 69.57% compared with 2016 to 39 tons. The overall growth of the company's production abroad was 3.7%, with total production at 5102 tons, according to Rosatom’s annual report. Uranium One produced 5063 tons of uranium in Kazakhstan, which is 3.4% or 167 tons more than in 2016. In the USA, production increased from 23 tons in 2016 to 39 tons in 2017. Uranium One's mineral resource base, according to the international reporting standards, amounted to 216,200 tons of uranium at the end of 2017.