3. Uranium mine development projects
− according to our records, no license applications for new uranium mines were filed in 2013.
Uranium mining/milling licenses were issued for:
− for the operation of Cameco's Cigar Lake uranium mine in Saskatchewan, Canada,
− for the processing of ore from the new Cigar Lake mine at Areva's existing McClean Lake mill in Saskatchewan, Canada,
− for the operation of Cameco's North Butte in situ leach uranium mine in Wyoming, USA; production began in May,
− for the commencement of operation of Uranerz Energy's Nichols Ranch uranium in situ leach mine in Wyoming, USA,
− for underground mining at INB's Caetité uranium mine in Brazil,
− for Atomredmetzoloto's Mkuju River uranium mine project in Tanzania; however, ARMZ disputes a $206 million tax claim, and the start of development of the project is still open due to "some pending issues".
− for the operation of Anatolia Energy's Temrezli in situ leach uranium project in Turkey − even before the submission of an Environmental Impact Assessment (!).
Several uranium mine development projects were temporarily suspended and/or abandoned, due to the unfavourable market situation (and other issues):
− Ucore Rare Metals' Bokan Mountain − Dotson Ridge deposit in Alaska, USA, is now to be mined solely for rare earths.
− Energy Fuels' Piñon Ridge uranium mill project in Colorado, USA: a few months after the state approved the construction license, project owner Energy Fuels announced that the mill will not be built, unless there is an unexpected turnaround in the price of uranium.
− Strathmore's Peña Ranch uranium mill project in New Mexico, USA, was abandoned, after the company was taken over by Energy Fuels Inc.
− Uranium Energy's Grants Ridge uranium mine project in New Mexico, USA: the license application was withdrawn due to "market conditions and lack of funding".
− Strathmore's Lower Gas Hills open pit / heap leach uranium mine project in Wyoming, USA: the license application was indefinitely delayed "until such time that uranium prices justify licensing and construction of the facility".
− Energy Fuels' Canyon mine in Arizona, USA: the shaft-sinking was placed on standby "due to market conditions, and to simplify and lessen the expense of current litigation at the mine" (the Havasupai tribe and three conservation groups sued the U.S. Forest Service over its decision to allow operation of the mine).
− Areva's huge Imouraren uranium project in Niger was delayed further to the end of 2015; Areva pays an EUR 35 million compensation for the delay.
− Forsys Metals' Valencia uranium mine project in Namibia: most workers were dismissed due to the weak uranium market.
− Rio Tinto's Rössing mine in Namibia: the preparation of the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposed mining of the Z20 deposit was halted.
Projects currently under development, or being prepared for development:
− The environmental review process for the Kiggavik uranium mine project in Nunavut continued with Areva supplying responses to information requests and technical comments. The Saskatchewan Dene worried about flying uranium from the proposed Kiggavik mine over their traditional territory.
− The English River First Nation in Saskatchewan signed a deal with Cameco and Areva providing an estimated CDN$600 million in economic benefit over the next 10 years through industry employment, sustainable business development and community investment; some band members opposed the deal.
− Legal action was started challenging a similar Cameco/Areva deal with the northern community of Pinehouse in Saskatchewan.
− The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations chief demanded a revenue sharing deal with First Nations for new mining projects.
− Further delays were announced for the start of mining operations at Cigar Lake and for the processing of Cigar Lake ore at the McClean Lake mill in Saskatchewan; mining at Cigar Lake actually began on December 16.
− Cameco's Millennium underground uranium mine project in Saskatchewan obtained environmental approval.
In the USA:
− Powertech's Centennial uranium in situ leach mine project in Colorado: the company quit the legal fight against the Colorado mining regulations; a Hong Kong company acquired a majority interest in the mothballed project.
− Powertech's Dewey-Burdock uranium in situ leach mine project in South Dakota: while the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources recommended that a mining permit be granted for the project, two state panels postponed further action until the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have made their rulings on the project; an U.S. NRC board admitted several contentions of intervenors against the project. Post-restoration uranium concentrations in down-gradient groundwater at the site may be much higher than previously thought, modeling suggests.
− Strathmore's Roca Honda uranium mine project in the Cibola National Forest, New Mexico: the U.S. Forest Service released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project; opponents held protests in Albuquerque against it.
− Hydro Resources' Church Rock/Crownpoint uranium in situ leach mine project in New Mexico: the U.S. NRC released an Environmental Report for the license renewal of the project.
− Rio Grande Resources' idle Mount Taylor uranium mine near Grants, New Mexico: a court ordered a new hearing over the proposed reactivation of the mine after 23 years of inactivity.
− Virginia Uranium's Coles Hill uranium mine project in Virginia: opponents released a report raising questions on the ability of Virginia Uranium Inc. and its regulator to follow best practices in the development of the project.
− Bayswater Uranium's Reno Creek in situ leach uranium mine project in Wyoming: the licensing process continued with NRC issuing the opportunity to request a hearing and to petition for leave to intervene and a notice of intent to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS).
− Peninsula Energy's Ross uranium in situ leach project in Wyoming: the licensing process continued with the U.S. NRC issuing a Draft Supplemental EIS for comment and the U.S. EPA approving an aquifer exemption; construction work commenced in October.
− Ur-Energy's Lost Creek uranium in situ leach mine project in Wyoming: the mine started operation in August; in December, however, the state ordered the halt of operation for failure to maintain the mandatory bleed (a fundamental requirement for in situ leach mining: the pumped volume must be slightly higher than the injected volume to prevent solution excursions beyond the mining zone).
− Cameco's Gas Hills uranium in situ leach project in Wyoming: the licensing process continued with the U.S. BLM announcing the availability of the final EIS and the state inviting comment on the draft permit for the deep disposal wells.
− Denison's EZ uranium mine in Arizona: the proposed listing of endangered cacti may have impacts on the mine.
− Wate Mining's Wate uranium mine project in Arizona: the Navajo Nation plans to block access for uranium transport off site.
− Uranium Energy's Goliad in situ leach uranium mine project in Texas: in March, the U.S. EPA issued an aquifer exemption after intervention of a powerful lobbyist; residents appealed the aquifer exemption; and, Goliad County Commissioners appealed the TCEQ ruling allowing mining at the site.
In Central/South America:
− Santa Quitéria Consortium's Itataia uranium/phosphate mine project in Ceará, Brazil: the Environmental Impact Assessment report was filed in September.
− Zhonghe's uranium mine project in Namibia: public involvement did not take place according to the EIA regulation, The Earth Organization Namibia complained. Subsequently, the Environmental Impact Assessment for the project was finally made available − two years after completion and four months after the license was issued. Worse still, the document does not contain any assessment at all, it could just pass as a scoping document, if anything. Miraculously, though, it must somehow have passed the Namibian licensing process.
− China Guangdong's Husab uranium mine project in the Namib Naukluft National Park in Namibia: a last-minute change brought a switch from dry to wet tailings disposal, increasing the mine footprint by 400 hectares; construction began, while the comment period for the EIS amendment was still open.
− Deep Yellow's Ongolo and Tumas uranium mine projects in Namibia: draft Environmental Scoping Reports were lodged.
− Areva's mothballed Trekkopje uranium mine project in Namibia: a second shipment of uranium left the site in July.
− A-Cap Resources' Letlhakane uranium project in Botswana: "favourable economics" were announced from the scoping study, provided the uranium price rises significantly...
− Kanyemba uranium project in Zimbabwe: the government was criticised for many 'secretive' mining deals.
− Rockgate Capital's Faléa uranium mine project in Mali: Rockgate Capital Corp. was acquired by Denison Mines Corp.
− Greenland Minerals and Energy's Kvanefjeld rare earth − uranium project in Greenland: as the parliament decision on the lifting of the zero-tolerance uranium policy approached, the company − in an attempt to appease critics on the environmental impact of the project − proposed to locate the project's refinery overseas, for example in Denmark. But, as soon as parliament had lifted the ban, the company switched back to a refinery in Greenland. Environmental concerns were also raised on the planned dumping of millions of tonnes of tailings in a nearby Lake.
− Aura Energy's Häggån uranium mine project in Sweden: in February, Areva was selected as a preferred strategic partner for the project, but, in July already, Areva refrained from the partnership.
− European Uranium Resources' Kurisková uranium mine project in Slovakia: in February and March, protests were held against the project; in April, the Kosice city council confirmed its opposition to the proposed mine, and the Kosice Region incorporated a uranium mining ban in the zoning plan for the project site; in August, the Minister of Environment cancelled the renewal of the exploration licence, but the company filed an appeal. Interestingly, European Uranium Resources Ltd. is one of the companies that have announced to delete the term "uranium" from their name; after the merger with a base metal explorer holding properties in Portugal and Spain, the new name will be European Minerals Inc.
− CNU's Tulghes-Grinties uranium mine project in Romania: according to the Ministry of Economy, "the chances are very high to find financing for the development of the Tulghes-Grinties deposit".
− CNU's Uzina TG uranium mill project in Romania: in September, public comment was invited on the project that is to replace the existing Uzina R plant at Feldioara.
− Berkeley's Retortillo uranium mine project in Salamanca, Spain: in October, the environmental licence was granted for mining of the deposit; in November, environmentalists slammed the Environmental Impact Assessment for failure to assess the radiological impacts; in December, the Ministry of Industry postponed the decision on the mining project and demanded an assessment of its radiological impacts(!); on Dec. 28, protests were held in Retortillo against the mine project.
− UCIL's Gogi uranium mine project in Karnataka, India: the state resumed land acquisition for the mine in spite of a Union government order to scrap the project.
− Saghand uranium mines and Ardakan uranium mill in Iran: operation started in April.
− Navoi's Alendy, Aulbek and North Kanimekh uranium in situ leach mines in the Central Kyzylkum Desert, Uzbekistan: construction of the three mines was to be completed by year end.
− Areva's Dulaan Uul and Zoovch Ovoo uranium in situ leach mine projects in the Dornogobi province of Mongolia: Areva formed a joint venture to develop uranium mines in Mongolia.
− Areva's Koongarra uranium deposit in Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia: on March 14, the Australian Senate passed a bill reversing the exclusion of the Koongarra uranium deposit from Kakadu National Park, thus protecting it from mining.
− Cameco's Kintyre uranium mine project in Western Australia: in November, Cameco released the Environmental Review and Management Programme for comment; conservationists say, the project threatens the Karlamilyi National Park.
− Toro Energy's Wiluna uranium mine project in Western Australia: in April, the project obtained approval of the federal environment minister; in May, the viability of the project was questioned by an economist; in July, the native title covering the project was officially acknowledged.
− The World Heritage Committee considers placing the Great Barrier Reef on its "in danger" list over proposals to export Queensland's uranium across it.
− Marmota Energy's Junction Dam uranium in situ leach mine project in South Australia: positive test results pave the way for uranium field leach trials
− Alliance Resources' and Quasar Resources' Beverley Four Mile uranium in situ leach mine project in South Australia: after obtaining final state and federal environmental approvals, construction commenced in December.
− Marathon Resources withdraws from the uranium exploration business: "Both the political and regulatory regimes have deterred us permanently from the uranium industry," chairman Peter Williams told the company's annual meeting. The company had been exploring the Mt Gee site in South Australia's Flinders Ranges. However, it fell foul of the South Australian government over the illegal disposal of waste, while the government eventually banned all mining in the environmentally-sensitive area anyway.