Australian firm plans uranium mining, processing plant in Wyoming

2012-04-09T07:00:00Z 2012-04-16T13:20:13Z Australian firm plans uranium mining, processing plant in WyomingBy JEREMY FUGLEBERG Star-Tribune energy reporter Casper Star-Tribune Online

An Australian firm says it plans to start construction this year on a central processing plant and in-situ uranium mining and production facilities in northeast Wyoming.

The plant, located about 20 miles north of Moorcroft, will annually process up to 3 million pounds of U308, a uranium oxide also known as yellowcake, said Peninsula Energy.

The construction plans hinge on several key permits Peninsula doesn’t yet have. Peninsula subsidiary Strate Energy has obtained approval for the underground injection wells used to gather uranium, as well as a license for a deep disposal well from state environmental regulators.

But the company is still awaiting a source material license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a mine permit from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.

The in-situ method of mining uranium involves a series of wells used to flush a sodium bicarbonate solution through a formation to dissolve the uranium, which is then pumped to the surface and processed from the solution into a powder known as yellowcake.

“With financing advancing well and permitting progressing on schedule, we are confident that Peninsula will be a uranium producer in the near term,” Gus Simpson, Peninsula executive chairman, said in a news release.

If construction begins this year, the Lance site, as it is known, will begin operation sometime next year.

Peninsula says it decided to announce its firm plan to move forward with construction after additional exploration boosted by 24 percent the total uranium resource at the project, to 51.5 million pounds of U308.

Peninsula’s plans to start mining and build a processing plant are the latest for the Wyoming uranium industry, which has been on the rebound in recent years.

A number of firms have uranium projects in advanced stages of exploration and development, and Casper-based Uranerz Energy Corp. inked a deal in December with Cameco Resources to ship uranium from Uranerz’s recently licensed Nichols Ranch site in southern Campbell County to Cameco’s Smith Ranch-Highland processing plant north of Douglas in Converse County.

While last year’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster in Japan sapped uranium prices, the spot price has recovered somewhat and uranium producers in the state have said they’re confident global demand for uranium as a nuclear plant fuel will remain strong and grow.

Reach Jeremy Fugleberg at 307-266-0623 or jeremy.fugleberg@trib.com. Read his blog at http://trib.com/news/opinion/blogs/boom/ and follow him on Twitter: @jerenergy.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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