VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – US-focused uranium producer Energy Fuels is mulling over its options for the Sheep Mountain uranium project, in Wyoming, after receiving a positive federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) final environmental impact statement (EIS) and record of decision (ROD) for the project.
The news sent the company's TSX-listed stock up 12.7% to C$2.83 apiece.
With the mine permit already in hand, the EIS and the ROD represent the last significant government approvals required to start mining at Sheep Mountain.
“We intend to continue to evaluate the licensing of an on-site processing facility for the Sheep Mountain project, seek an agreement with a nearby processing facility, or potentially sell the asset at a price that recognises the value of the existing resources and permits,” president and CEO Stephen Antony advised on Tuesday.
Energy Fuels is evaluating options to process the ores from Sheep Mountain, including toll processing at other facilities in the region and the licensing and construction of its own on-site mill.
Fully integrated Energy Fuels, which operates the White Mesa mill, in Utah, the Nichols Ranch processing facility, in Wyoming, and the Alta Mesa project, in Texas, says the Sheep Mountain project, which is a large-scale, formerly producing, conventional uranium mine, has the potential to become a long-term uranium production centre for the company; however, it requires a higher price environment.
An April 2012 prefeasibility study (PFS) has estimated the $1.22-million Sheep Mountain project to hold about 12.9-million tons of indicated resources with an average grade of 0.117% uranium equivalent (eU3O8) containing about 30.3-million pounds of uranium.
The PFS also calculated about 7.5-million tons of probable reserves, with an average grade of 0.123% eU3O8 for about 18.4-million pounds of uranium. The cost per pound recovered was pegged at a low $7.01/lb. The PFS outlined a 1.5-million-pound-a-year mining scenario with a potential mine life of more than 15 years.
Energy Fuels added that it was happy to hold on to the project for the time being in anticipation of market improvement, at which stage Sheep Mountain would be a relatively quick start-up allowing it to take advantage of improved prices.