Fuel cycle roundup #25

08 May 2014

Powertech clarifies Dewey-Burdock position

Powertech Uranium remains confident the licence granted by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the Dewey-Burdock in-situ leach (ISL) uranium project on 8 April will be allowed to stand despite a temporary stay issued by the NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board.

In a statement to clarify the situation, Powertech described the stay, issued on 30 April, as "simply a product of the licensing regime and process" to ensure that public concerns filed earlier in the procedure are fully addressed by the regulators. Powertech anticipates that the NRC's general counsel as well as its own attorneys will "vigorously defend" the licence as it currently stands, and anticipates receiving all remaining permits for the South Dakota project by the end of 2014.

Permit for Lance

The NRC has issued a combined Source and Byproduct Materials Licence (SML) to Strata Energy for the Lance central uranium processing plant and Ross permit area in Wyoming. Strata is a wholly owned subsidiary of Australian uranium company Peninsula Energy. The issuance of an SML marks the conclusion of the licensing process for the ISL project, and Peninsula says it can now work towards finalising construction of the Lance plant and begin the installation of production well-fields at Ross.

No Q2 restart for McClean

Areva does not expect to restart the McClean Lake mill, currently undergoing modifications, before the end of the second quarter of 2014. Toll-milling of uranium from Cameco's Cigar Lake mine had been anticipated to start at the Saskatchewan mill before the end of June. In its Q1 results, Cameco noted that Areva had made good progress on modifications to the mill but would not meet the Q2 target. No other target was mentioned. Work is also under way to double the mill's current capacity of 1 million pounds per month to meet Cigar Lake's anticipated full production of 18 million pounds per year by 2018.

ERA and Rössing join forces

Uranium production from Australia's Ranger mine and Namibia's Rössing is to be combined in a new multi-sourced marketing pool. Under a newly signed sales and marketing agreement, Rio Tinto Uranium (RTU) will purchase uranium produced by Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) and Rössing and sell it on to third-party customers in a move which ERA chairman Peter McMahon said would strengthen the company's marketing position. RTU had previously provided marketing services to ERA through an agency-based arrangement. The new arrangement, which has been under negotiation since January 2013, is scheduled to come into force on 1 July.

Pinenut producing to 2015

Favourable mining conditions and lower-than-expected costs mean that uranium mining will continue at the Pinenut mine in Arizona into 2015, Energy Fuels has announced. The company had planned to place the mine on standby by mid-2014. It expects the economic uranium resource at Pinenut to be depleted during the first quarter of 2015, when production will cease.

The company has no plans to mill the extra output during 2014, instead planning to stockpile it at the surface pending improvements in the uranium market. The uranium would then be transported to Energy Fuels' White Mesa mill for processing. White Mesa, currently the USA's only conventional uranium mill, is expected to carry out ore processing operations for two to three months from mid-May to enable the company to meet delivery obligations through 2015 and beyond.

Talvivaara permit

Finnish base metals producer Talvivaara has received an environmental permit for its proposed uranium recovery operations from the Northern Finland Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI). The company has also received a decision relating to the renewal of its environmental permit for the whole of its operations at the Sotkamo site, where nickel and zinc are already being produced, against which it says it intends to appeal. The company did not give details of the issues in the decision against which it is appealing. The environmental permit renewal and uranium recovery permit applications were filed separately in 2011 but were subsequently combined by AVI.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News