Feds OK Uranium Project


"Nichols Ranch site will be the third uranium project in operation in the state, as Wyoming producers expect continued demand."

Casper Star-Tribune, Jeremy Fugleberg

Uranerz Energy Corp. (TSX:URZ; NYSE.A:URZ) has federal approval for its Nichols Ranch uranium project in the southern Powder River Basin, the company announced Wednesday.

The material license issued by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows Uranerz to construct a facility that will process 2 million pounds a year of uranium oxide at the Nichols Ranch site, as well as a satellite facility at the company's Hank property nearby.

The project, which includes both in-situ recovery well sites and a processing facility for the extracted uranium, is a "very significant milestone" capping more than four years of work, said Glenn Catchpole, Uranerz chief executive and president. It's a key part of Uranerz's plans to produce uranium from the Nichols Ranch and surrounding sites.

"That will allow us to not only develop the immediate property around us, the Nichols Ranch unit, but allow us to develop the other properties around us with satellite facilities," he said.

The license is the final permit Uranerz needed to move forward with the project, which straddles the border of Johnson and Campbell counties. The company obtained state permission for the project earlier this year.

When it goes on line, the Nichols Ranch site will be the third uranium project in operation in the state, joining Uranium One's Christensen Ranch site and Irigaray processing facility, and Cameco's Smith Ranch/Highland sites.

While uranium prices took a tumble after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster in Japan earlier this year, producers in Wyoming still expect strong demand for uranium from domestic nuclear plants.

"There's a demand for 50-55 million pounds of uraniuim per year for U.S. nuclear power plants. That's not going away," said Marion Loomis, executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association, which represents the state's mining industry.

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