22 Dec 2010 15:38

NRC allows Uranium One to restart Wyoming project

MOSCOW. Dec 22 (Interfax) - The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has authorized Uranium One, which Russia's Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ) is poised to take over, to restart its Irigary and Christensen Ranch in situ uranium recovery facility in Wyoming, the NRC said in a statement.

The NRC said the restart had been allowed now that it had determined the company is prepared to protect the health and safety of workers and the public, and the environment, during operations.

The Irigary and Christensen Ranch facility, located in Johnson and Campbell counties in eastern Wyoming, is regulated under a single NRC license. Recovery operations ceased in 2000. Site operator Cogema applied in 2007 for permission to restart operations. The NRC authorized restart in September 2008 subject to two conditions: that the company update its financial surety for decommissioning, and that the facility pass a preoperational inspection. NRC completed the onsite portion of the preoperational inspection on Dec. 9, and Uranium One, which purchased Cogema this past January, updated the surety on Dec. 16.

The NRC notified Uranium One by letter dated Dec. 17 that it had fulfilled the conditions for restarting operations. The facility is authorized to produce up to 2.5 million pounds of uranium oxide, or yellowcake, annually.

ARMZ currently owns 23% of U1. U1 will receive ARMZ's stakes of 50% and 49.67% of the Kazakhstan-based uranium joint ventures Akbastau and Zarechnoye, respectively, in exchange for new shares, by the end of they year, which will give ARMZ 51% of U1.