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Strathmore u-mine moves ahead; public comment, meetings

Jul 21, 2013 - By Eric Blom Staff Writer

A Gas Hills uranium mine has reached the next step in its permitting process with the opening of a public comment period.

Interested parties will have until Sept. 9 to give input on Strathmore Minerals' proposal for an open pit mine, and public meetings are coming up as well.

45 miles east

The company with offices in Riverton proposes building a mine 45 miles east of Riverton and cover about 12,400 acres, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

The federal government manages the surface for 11,040 of those acres.

Other mines

Cameco Resources also is planning to mine uranium in the same area. The permitting process for Cameco's development is further along in the draft environmental impact study stage. That mine would use the in-situ recovery method.

The Bureau of Land Manage-ment is preparing an environmental impact statement on the Strathmore project.

Meetings set

The agency holds public meetings Tuesday, Aug. 6, at the Fremont County Library in Lander from 4-6 p.m. and at the Fremont County Library Riverton Branch on Thursday, Aug. 8, also from 4-6 p.m., to gather public comments.

Such projects on BLM land typically undergo a scoping period, a draft environmental impact statement, a final environmental imp-act statement, and a record of decision through the federal agency.

The whole process can take several years and involves several public comment periods along the way.

Some uranium developments also require permits from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commis-sion.

Titan Uranium USA is planning a third uranium mine in Fremont County in the Crooks Gap Mining District eight miles south of Jeffrey City. The BLM is working on an environmental impact statement for that mine, called Sheep Mountain.

Strathmore's mining plan in-volves using a heap leach process to produce yellow cake from mined uranium ore.

The method runs water through piles of uranium-bearing material, and then pumping the water into a facility to extract the mineral.

Heap leach leaves piles of tailings on the surface, which typically are sealed with a cover during reclamation.

After the mine's life, the BLM likely will restrict public access to the heap leach areas.

Uranium mining once was Fremont County's largest employer, with more than 2,000 full-time workers. The new mines would represent the county's first full-time uranium mining employment since the industry collapsed in the mid-1980s.

Interested parties can send comments to the BLM about Strathmore's project via email at BLM_WY_Lower_Gas_Hills_Conventional_Mine@blm.gov or in writing to Bureau of Land Management, Lander Field Office, Attn: Kristin Yannone, Project Manager, 1335 Main Street, Lander, WY 82520.

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