Uranerz Energy has delivered the first drums of U3O8 produced from its wholly-owned Nichols Ranch in-situ recovery uranium project in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. The shipment of approximately 36,000 lb was received in early September at ConverDyn’s Metropolis Works in Metropolis, Illinois, for subsequent transfer to one of the company’s utility customers. The delivery was made under one of Uranerz’s long-term sales contracts. The company expected to make a second shipment before the end of September.
Nichols Ranch is the newest uranium mine in North America. Commissioning began on April 15, with the start of chemical addition to the circulating groundwater. The in-situ recovery process distributes oxidized groundwater, fortified with baking soda, through the underground uranium deposit by means of injection wells. The uranium-bearing water is recovered using production wells.
Uranium is loaded onto an ion exchange resin at Nichols Ranch, and the resin is transported to Cameco Resources’ Smith Ranch uranium production facilities, also in Wyoming, for final processing into dried and drummed uranium concentrates.
As operations at Nichols Ranch transition from commissioning to commercial production, Uranerz anticipates improvements in uranium recovery parameters.
The Nichols Ranch processing facility is licensed to produce a maximum of 2 million lb/y of U3O8. Uranerz is currently targeting production of 200,000 to 300,000 lb during 2014. Production costs are estimated at $35/lb of U3O8, including taxes and royalties.