A uranium mill in southern Utah has been sold to a Canadian company, fueling hopes that it will operate for the first time since the early 1980s.
U.S. Energy Corp. said it sold the Shootaring Canyon uranium mill, north of Lake Powell, along with 38,000 acres (15,400 hectares) of mineral claims and leases, to sxr Uranium One Inc.
The mining parcels include the Sage Mine in San Juan County, near the Utah-Colorado border, and other properties in the Lisbon Valley, southeast of Moab, and the Henry Mountains, northwest of Ticaboo.
U.S. Energy, based in Riverton, Wyoming, said it will receive $6.6 million (euro4.9 million) in cash and 6 million shares of Uranium One common stock. Uranium One also has pledged to pay $20 million (euro15 million) if the Shootaring Canyon mill returns to commercial production and other incentives.
"We're delighted to become a shareholder in Uranium One," said Mark Larsen, U.S. Energy's president and chief operating officer. "It's a top-notch company. They'll do a great job for the state of Utah."
Shootaring Canyon, the last uranium mill built in the United States, barely started operations in 1982 when the price of uranium collapsed, forcing a shutdown. Today, the price is approaching $115 per pound.
The mill, however, does not have a power supply and has relied on diesel-powered generators. Garfield County has studied how to extend electricity to Ticaboo.
Environmental advocates are watching. Steve Bloch, an attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said uranium mining is a speculative venture.
"We'll see what pans out at the end of the day," he said.