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Strathmore predicts proposed mine would create 153 jobs

Strathmore predicts proposed Gas Hills mine would create 153 jobs

Aug 15, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The company conducted two meetings last week to answer questions and receive comments from the public.

Strathmore Minerals held two public meetings on its proposed uranium mine in the Gas Hills last week. The public submitted comments during the meetings for the Bureau of Land Management to consider before it develops an environmental impact statement.

Before Strathmore can begin mining, the BLM has to produce a draft EIS, a final EIS and a record of decision. The process often takes several years, and the public will have two more chances to weigh in before the project begins.

The Fremont County Library System hosted a forum Aug. 6 in Lander and Aug. 8 in Riverton.

Roughly eight residents attended the Lander meeting and had questions for the Strathmore and BLM staff who were on hand.

"What's it going to create in terms of additional income to the county?" was a typical question posed to Strathmore land manager Tom Powell.

Strathmore staff answered by producing a large poster laying out the company's projections for the conventional, open pit mine, which would create 153 jobs and a total annual payroll of $9.2 million.

Strathmore also predicts the development will generate $23 million every year in taxes for county schools and government.

The estimates are based on the mine producing 1 million pounds of uranium annually, at a price of $60 per pound and a 10-year mine life. The current price is about $36 a pound.

Powell said he had not heard many concerns with the project so far. One factor in the mine's favor is it would not be in the BLM's core sage grouse management area, he said.

Tom Michael, a consultant on the project, said the four proposed mine units would, for the most part, disturb areas that were developed already.

"All four mining areas are in or adjacent to historic mining areas," he said.

After Strathmore closes the mines, it will reclaim the areas similar to how the older mines were reclaimed.

The BLM will accept public comments received by Sept. 9.

Anyone can send comments by writing to BLM_WY_Lower_Gas_Hills_Conventional_Mine@blm.gov, or Bureau of Land Management, Lander Field Office, Attn: Kristin Yannone, Project Manager, 1335 Main St., Lander, WY 82520.

Other mines

Two more uranium mines are in the works for Fremont County and are farther along in the permitting process than Strathmore's mine. The BLM is working on a draft EIS for the Sheep Mountain uranium mine eight miles south of Jeffrey City.

Energy Fuels Inc. acquired the open pit and underground mining project when it bought Titan Uranium in February 2012. Now, Energy Fuels is planning to merge with Strathmore as well.

Cameco Resource's proposed Gas Hills uranium mine is in the final EIS stage. It plans to use the in-situ technique, which pumps water into uranium ore underground to dissolve the mineral and draws the solution to the surface where the product is removed.

Strathmore's proposed mine in the Gas Hills would be on about 12,400 acres 45 miles east of Riverton in a historic uranium-mining district. Surface disturbance would be about 2,000 acres, the BLM estimates.

The first uranium mine in the area to start production is Ur-Energy's Lost Creek mine in Sweetwater County, which opened this month.

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