A company that wants to mine uranium in the Great Divide Basin has won approval from state regulators, the final Wyoming hurdle for Ur-Energy’s Lost Creek project.
The Littleton, Colo.-based company on Monday said it received a Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality mining permit for the project, which is located about 40 miles northwest of Rawlins.
The permit is the last the company needed from state regulators and the most recent step in Ur-Energy’s attempt to get both the federal and state permits required for the project.
“Receiving the state permit to mine is a major step in Ur-Energy’s progression to full mining operations at its Lost Creek deposit,” company President and Chief Executive Wayne Heili said in a media release.
Ur-Energy now only awaits an OK from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which must approve the company’s operations plan before it can begin developing the site.
The BLM is currently working on a draft of the environmental impact statement for the project, said Terese Engles, BLM project manager for Lost Creek. The statement is a core part of the BLM’s approval process.
“It’s really just going through a whole series of reviews right now to make sure we’re meeting our requirements,” Engles said.
The impact statement should be available for public comment in March and a final BLM decision on the project is expected in June, according to the BLM.
When construction on the project is complete, the site will host a facility that can annually process 2 million pounds of uranium oxide, as well as in-situ recovery mine sites.
In in-situ recovery mining, a solution of water and sodium bicarbonate is pumped underground through wells to pull underground uranium into the solution. The solution is brought to the surface, and the uranium is extracted and processed into a milled uranium oxide commonly known as yellowcake. The yellowcake is then shipped out of state to plants that further process the yellowcake into the form needed to fuel nuclear power plants.
When it receives the final federal approval, the Ur-Energy project at Lost Creek will join a number of recently permitted mining and processing uranium sites in Wyoming. Uranerz Corp. is constructing its Nichols Ranch well sites and processing plant in Campbell County after it received a final go-ahead from federal nuclear regulators earlier this year.
Uranium One restarted the Irigaray processing plant at its Willow Creek site in southern Johnson and Campbell counties earlier this year. The plant is processing uranium extracted from the company’s Christensen Ranch wells.