In October 2015, downstream the Dolores River into Montrose County, construction is expected to begin on the country’s first new uranium mill in 30 years.
The Pinon Ridge Mill has cleared several major permit hurdles and survived court challenges from environmental groups. Its proposed location is in Paradox Valley between Naturita and Bedrock off Colorado Highway 90.
It would be built on 880 acres near the confluence of the Dolores and San Miguel rivers.
Energy Fuels Resources Corp., a Canadian-based company with a main office in Littleton, Colo., has been working towards building the $150 million plant for the last six years. EF also owns the White Mesa Mill, south of Blanding, Utah, which is currently the only operating uranium mill in the country.
The new Pinon Ridge mill would process uranium ore using an acid leach process to produce yellowcake, a concentrated uranium product that is fabricated into fuel rods for nuclear reactors.
The mill is expected to process 500 tons a day of uranium ore from re-opened mines on the Colorado Plateau, Uravan Mineral Belt, and Arizona Strip.
The Environmental Protection Agency has granted EF a permit for the construction of tailings impoundment and evaporation ponds. A radioactive materials license was approved by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in April for the project.
“This is significant for the domestic uranium industry,” said Energy Fuels CEO Stephen Antony, in a press release. “It brings us one big step closer to the production of American uranium and vanadium.”
The plant is expected to create 85 well-paying jobs.
“Out of mining school, engineers can start out at $100,000 per year,” Antony said during a recent mining conference.
The company still needs a construction permit from CDPHE before the project can break ground.
Pending approval of permits, construction of the mill could be completed by early 2017.
Public comments on the construction permit will be accepted. For more information go to http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/CDPHE-Main/CBON/1251583470000