Published on Sunday December 08 2013 (AEST)
Ur-Energy's Lost Creek uranium facility made its first shipment this week, sending 35,000 pounds of yellowcake uranium to an Illinois conversion plant.
The shipment came seven years after the in-situ uranium recovery site north of Rawlins was first proposed.
The mine soon expects to be shipping two to four truckloads a month, said Wayne Heili, president of Casper-based Ur-Energy, the company that owns and operates the sites. Each truckload weighs 35,000 pounds.
"There was a certain amount of enthusiasm about seeing that first shipment leave the site," Heili said. "It is not every day you see a company succeed in its long-term goals."
Uranium prices have slumped in recent years. The $130 per pound prices of 2007 are gone, replaced by today's average of $36 per pound on the spot market. Long-term contracts for yellowcake are slightly better, averaging $50 per pound.
Lost Creek's mines and production plant began producing uranium in August. Production rates in September put the mine on track to make 800,000 pounds of uranium for the year. The facility is designed to produce up to 1 million pounds annually.
In-situ uranium recovery sees a mixture of water, oxygen and baking soda injected into the ground, where it dissolves the uranium. The radioactive substance is then pumped to the surface for processing.
The site began drying recovered uranium in October and has been stockpiling inventory since, Heili said.
Yellowcake uranium is the fuel source for nuclear power generation. Almost 40 ounces of uranium produces the same amount of power as three tons of coal.