Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE MKT:UUUU) (NYSE:EFR) said the State of Wyoming has issued the mine permit for its 100%-owned Sheep Mountain Project. The Company applied for, and received, a major revision to the current mining permit that allows for the expansion of surface and underground mining. This is an important step, contributing to Energy Fuels' plans to become the United States' leading producer of uranium thanks to an unparalleled project pipeline.
Energy Fuels considers this a major milestone in the permitting process for Sheep Mountain, which is a conventional uranium project located in the Crooks Gap Mining District of central Wyoming, and one of the largest uranium development projects in the U.S. today.
Before Energy Fuels can resume production at Sheep Mountain, it must obtain a final environmental impact statement (NYSEARCA:EIS) from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The company achieved another significant permitting milestone earlier this year, when BLM issued a draft EIS in January. Energy Fuels said they expect the BLM could issue the final EIS, approving the Plan of Operations by mid-2016. Meanwhile, the Company is evaluating processing options for the Sheep Mountain Project, including the permitting and construction of a new onsite heap leach facility or the use of an existing third party milling facility in the region.
A preliminary feasibility study from April 2012 suggests that Sheep Mountain contains 30.3 million pounds of uranium contained in 12.9 million tons of Indicated Mineral Resources with an average grade of 0.117% eU3O8. The PFS estimates that the project can produce up to 1.5 million pounds of U3O8 per year over a 15-year mine life.
In addition, Sheep Mountain is one of few uranium projects in the U.S. with mineral reserves. Its Indicated Mineral Resource total includes 18.4 million pounds of uranium contained in 7.5 million tons of Probable Mineral Reserves with an average grade of 0.123% eU3O8.
"With over 30 million pounds of uranium resources, the Sheep Mountain Project is one of the largest and most important uranium projects in the U.S. Receipt of the mining permit is a key achievement for Energy Fuels, as we work to ready this project for mining," said Energy Fuels' president and CEO, Stephen P. Antony.
In 2014, Energy Fuels was the second largest producer of uranium in the U.S., producing about a million pounds. Following the Company's acquisition of Uranerz Energy Corporation last month, including its Nichols Ranch ISR Mine and Plant in Wyoming,Energy Fuels now has two uranium production centers, including ISR uranium production in Wyoming and conventional uranium production in Utah. It is the only company with both ISR and conventional uranium production in the U.S., and one of only three publicly-traded companies in the World with current ISR and conventional uranium production, the others being Cameco and Areva.
"In addition, large-scale conventional uranium projects, such as our Sheep Mountain, Roca Honda, and Henry Mountains Projects, are critical components of Energy Fuels' production growth strategy, as we seek to significantly scale-up our production capability to capture expected uranium market improvements," Antony said.