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After merger, Energy Fuels lays off Riverton employees

Sep 12, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Energy Fuels and Strathmore Minerals completed their merger Aug. 30. The consolidation resulted in eliminating about half of Strathmore's former staff in Riverton.

"That's normal in these types of things. As sad as it is, that's just the reality of it," Energy Fuels president Stephen Antony said, referring to the layoffs. "It's a matter of consolidating assets in order to be a stronger company for longer."

Under the terms of the deal, Denver-based Energy Fuels bought all the common shares of Strathmore, a Canadian company. For each share of Strathmore, stockholders received 1.47 shares in Energy Fuels.

Before the acquisition, the Strathmore office in Riverton employed about 12 people, including engineers, geologists and permit support staff, Anthony said. Between employees and consultants, five to six workers will be retained.

Strathmore had been developing a uranium mine in the Gas Hills about 45 miles east of Riverton. Energy Fuels was in the permit stage for a uranium mine at a location eight miles south of Jeffrey City called Sheep Mountain.

The consolidated company plans to continue developing both mines.

"We will see how (the Gas Hills project) can be combined with the Sheep Mountain project to try to realize some economies of scale," Anthony said.

He believed the two mines could share an administrative personnel and an ore processing facility, yielding savings.

Energy Fuels could increase its Fremont County workforce, but much depends on the uranium market.

Anthony said if the price of uranium rises, Energy Fuels' would expand its two local projects.

"As that happens, we hope to return to the levels Strathmore employed in the area or even surpass it."

The merger passed the final two regulatory hurdles in August, paving the way for the final consolidtion.

On Aug. 27, the Committee on Foreign Investment in Canada, a Canadian regulatory agency, gave Energy Fuels a clearance letter allowing the merger. The Supreme Court of British Columbia issued a final order Aug. 21 finding the transaction to be fair to Strathmore shareholders and approving the merger.

Besides undergoing regulatory scrutiny, the merger also had to satisfy the companies' owners.

On Aug. 20, 99.3 percent of Strathmore shareholders approved the merger. Owners of stock in Energy Fuels voted to support the plan Aug. 13, with 99.31 percent approving it.

Talks for the merger began confidentially in December, and the companies announced their intention to join forces in February.

The Bureau of Land Management is preparing an environmental impact statement for both the Sheep Mountain and Gas Hills developments. After each has a draft EIS, the BLM will take public comment, write a final EIS and make a record of decision.

The entire process can take several years. The Lander Field Office of the BLM was accepting public comment for the Gas Hills EIS through Sept. 9.

A previous version of this story and headline misconstrued the nature of the layoffs. The correction was made Sept. 13.

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