Friday, February 04, 2011

Colorado approves uranium mill that could serve Arizona

Energy Fuels Inc. announced last month that it has been granted approval by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a Radioactive Materials License for the 500 ton per day Piñon Ridge Mill facility to be constructed twelve miles west of Naturita, Colorado in western Montrose County. The company says "the license approval is the most significant hurdle to be completed before Energy Fuels is allowed to build and operate the first conventional uranium mill to be constructed in the US in 30 years, and contribute to the rapidly growing global demand for nuclear fuel to generate emission-free electrical power."

The mill will handle mostly ore from its two mines in Utah and on the Utah-Colorado border, but the company website says it is looking at other properties or milling arrangements. Energy Fuels shows 18 uranium exploration properties in northern Arizona [right, credit Energy Fuels] that conceivably could send their ore to the new plant if they are developed.

A company news release states, "It will produce about 850,000 lbs. per year of yellowcake or U3O8, enough to provide the annual fuel requirement for 2000 megawatts of power which would supply a city 1 ½ times the size of Denver, Colorado. Additionally, the mill will produce about 3.7 million lbs. per year of vanadium pentoxide (V2O5), a material used primarily as an alloying agent in steelmaking and finding new application as an electrolyte in high capacity batteries for use in storing power generated by wind farms and solar generators in the renewable energy industry."

The CDPHE news release quoted
Steve Tarlton, Radiation Program manager, “Energy Fuels has demonstrated it can build and operate the mill in a manner that is protective of both human health and the environment.” Our comprehensive review considered short- and long-term impacts of the proposed mill, including radiological and nonradiological impacts to water, air and wildlife, as well as economic, social and transportation-related impacts.”

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