Energy Fuels Inc announced that it has received approval from the state of Wyoming for approval for a major revision to the existing mining permit for its 100 percent-owned Sheep Mountain Project, including expansion of surface and underground mining.
The Sheep Mountain Project is a conventional uranium project located in the Crooks Gap Mining District of central Wyoming, and one of the largest uranium development projects currently in the United States. The project was formerly operated by Western Nuclear from the 1950s to the 1980s. It closed in the 1980s because of low uranium prices.
In order to place the Sheep Mountain Project into production, the Company also requires a final environmental impact statement (EIS) from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and a facility to process the ore from this property.
In January 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a draft EIS, and Energy Fuels expects the BLM to issue a final environmental impact statement (EIS) and approve the plan of operations by mid-2016. Energy Fuels is continuing to evaluate processing options for the Sheep Mountain Project, including the permitting and construction of a new onsite heap leach facility or the use of an existing third party milling facility in the region.
According to an April 2012 preliminary feasibility study (PFS), the Sheep Mountain Project contains 13.7 kt (30.3 million lbs) of uranium contained in 11.7 Mt (12.9 million st) of indicated mineral resources with an average grade of 0.117 percent eU3O8. In addition, the Sheep Mountain project is one of the only uranium projects in the U.S. with reserves. Included in the indicated mineral resources, the project contains 8.3 kt (18.4 million lbs) of uranium contained in 6.8 Mt (7.5 million st) of probable mineral reserves with an average grade of 0.123 percent eU3O8. The PFS also estimates that the project can produce up to 680 t (1.5 million lbs) of U3O8 per year over a 15-year mine life.
Stephen P. Antony, president and CEO of Energy Fuels stated: “With more than 30 million pounds of uranium resources, the Sheep Mountain project is one of the largest and most important uranium projects in the United States. Receipt of the mining permit is a key achievement for Energy Fuels, as we work to ready this project for mining.”
“In 2014, Energy Fuels was the second largest producer of uranium in the U.S. with nearly 1 million pounds of production. Our goal is to become the leading uranium producer in the U.S., which could be achieved through our project pipeline that we believe is unmatched in the industry today. We recently added existing ISR production to our portfolio, through the acquisition of Uranerz and its Nichols Ranch ISR Mine and Plant in Wyoming. In addition, large-scale conventional uranium projects, such as our Sheep Mountain, Roca Honda, and Henry Mountains Projects, are critical components of Energy Fuels’ production growth strategy, as we seek to significantly scale-up our production capability to capture expected uranium market improvements.”