On August 2, 2013, the Company began production activities at its Lost Creek Project. As of September 30, 2013, plant production activities were limited to the capture of uranium in ion exchange columns and elution systems. Approximately 49,000 pounds of product was estimated to be in process at quarter end. As at October 24, 2013, all production circuits of the plant were commissioned and uranium yellowcake had been processed, dried and packaged. Production rates during the period, from three header houses in Mine Unit 1, were exceeding projected levels. Additional header houses will be brought online when needed to sustain the targeted production rate.
Construction of the processing plant and maintenance facility has been completed along with development drilling in Mine Unit 1. Innovative design and development have focused on employee and environmental safety, recycling of water, chemicals and production materials, and advanced instrumentation monitoring and data capture. The Company has incurred $58.1 million to date in construction, equipment purchases and wellfield development costs through September 30, 2013.
The Lost Creek Project is part of the larger Lost Creek Property located in the Great Divide Basin, Wyoming and comprises six projects covering a total of approximately 42,000 acres (17,000 hectares): Lost Creek permit area (“Lost Creek Project”), EN, LC South, LC North, LC East and LC West. The uranium deposit at the Lost Creek Project is referred to as the Main Mineral Trend (“MMT”). The Company’s East Mineral Trend (the “EMT”) is a second mineral trend of significance. It was identified by historic drilling on the lands forming LC East. Although geologically similar, it appears to be a separate and independent trend from the MMT.
Lost Creek currently employs approximately 60 full time employees. During production an additional 40 contract workers will be employed on site. The Company holds long-term sales contracts with several U.S. based nuclear utility companies, into which Lost Creek will make deliveries beginning in the fourth quarter, 2013. The uranium produced at the Lost Creek Project will ultimately become the fuel that provides clean energy for the nation’s power grid.
Regulatory and Legal Proceedings:
After receiving notice of final operational clearance from the NRC, the Company commenced production activities at Lost Creek on August 2, 2013. NRC approvals to operate the dryer circuit followed in early October. Lost Creek dried and packaged its first drum of yellowcake on October 15, 2013.
In November 2012, a Wyoming-based group filed a petition in the U.S. District Court for Wyoming for the review of the Bureau of Land Management’s Record of Decision. During the period, the Court heard oral arguments of the parties, and subsequently issued the Court’s Order Upholding Agency Action. The Order denied all relief sought by the petitioner, and confirmed the BLM’s decision to authorize the Lost Creek Project.