MOHAVE COUNTY, Ariz. – Energy Fuels Incorporated, the owner-operator of the Pinenut Mine in Mohave County, Ariz., expects to resume production at the mine in late May or early June and continue for two to three years under its approved plan of operation.
The Pinenut Mine is a fully developed uranium mine located in northern Arizona approximately 35 miles south of Fredonia, Ariz. The mine was partially developed in the late 1980’s and a shaft was sunk to a depth of 1,350 feet. As of Sept. 30, 2012, there are approximately 1,037,000 pounds of U3O8 remaining at Pinenut contained in 95,000 tons of inferred resource at an average grade of 0.54 percent U3O8.
The Pinenut Mine is located on federal lands near Grand Canyon National Park that was withdrawn in January 2012 from location and entry of new mining claims for 20 years, subject to valid existing rights. The withdrawal did not affect mining operations that were approved at the time of the withdrawal decision or new operations that will occur on valid existing mining claims. The withdrawal also did not affect other natural resource development in the area, including mineral leasing, geothermal leasing and mineral material sales.
The Pinenut Mine is one of three mines on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management that pre-date the withdrawal, all of which are operated by Energy Fuels. The Arizona 1 Mine, located in Mohave County, has been in production since December 2009; Energy Fuels expects to begin reclamation toward the end of 2013.
Energy Fuels expects to commence reclamation at the Kanab North Mine, also located in Mohave County, concurrent with production beginning at the Pinenut Mine. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has accepted Energy Fuels’ clean closure plan for the Kanab North Mine. A final closure report will contain all of the information for ADEQ to make a determination for approval of clean closure for this facility. Energy Fuels has hired a radiation safety officer to ensure the mine compound and surrounding area will be reclaimed to safe levels of metal concentrations and radioactivity. In addition, an independent verification will be performed to confirm the post-reclamation conditions are safe for the general public and environment.
The Secretary of the Interior made the January 2012 withdrawal decision after engaging numerous cooperating agencies, tribes, counties and stakeholders, and considering more than 350,000 public comments on the draft environmental impact statement, including input from more than 90 countries. The environmental analysis projected that 11 uranium mines would be developed during the 20-year withdrawal period, including the previously-approved Pinenut, Arizona 1, and Kanab North mines.
The withdrawal decision maintains the pace of hard rock mining in northern Arizona, while giving the Department of the Interior a chance to monitor the impacts of uranium mining in the region. The U.S. Geological Survey has been working with the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a comprehensive 15-year study plan to collect the information that will be needed to support a future decision on whether to continue the withdrawal beyond the current 20-year period.
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Submitted by: Bureau of Land Management