Uranium Resources’ NRC license provides for ISR mining at its Churchrock and Crownpoint projects that together hold nearly 34 million pounds of in-place mineralized uranium material.

The license allows for the production of up to 1 million pounds per year from Churchrock until a successful commercial demonstration of restoration is made, after which mining on other properties can begin and the quantity of production can be increased to 3 million pounds per year.

An effective underground injection control (UIC) permit from the appropriate governmental agency is the final permit needed before development can begin at the Churchrock project.

Don Ewigleben, president and CEO of URI, said: “This ruling is a major breakthrough for URI and upholds the NRC license that took us 10 years to obtain and as many to address in supplemental reviews and litigation. We are unique in New Mexico, because we have been awarded this license which puts us ahead of other mining companies in this uranium rich area. The ruling also demonstrates that ISR technology, including the restoration process that follows mining activity, is safe and effective.”

In 1997, the NRC, in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, issued a final environmental impact statement (FEIS), recommending that the NRC grant the license application to Hydro Resources (HRI), Uranium Resources’ wholly-owned subsidiary. In January 1998, the NRC issued a license for HRI to mine uranium using the ISR process.

This license imposes a number of requirements on HRI. Chief among those is the requirement that, when HRI is finished mining each site, it must reclaim the site and restore the quality of the groundwater. In order to insure this restoration occurs, the license requires HRI to provide a surety to cover the estimated cost of those reclamation efforts.

In 1989, the state of New Mexico issued HRI a UIC permit for HRI’s Section 8 land and the US Environmental Protection Agency approved New Mexico’s request for an aquifer exemption for the underlying aquifer. The jurisdiction of the permit was subsequently challenged by the Navajo Nation and the dispute was taken to the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

On January 12, 2010, oral arguments were presented to that court en banc to review the April 17, 2009 ruling by a three-judge panel of the Court that jurisdiction to issue the UIC permit rested with the EPA because HRI’s Section 8 land is Indian country. The company is awaiting a decision by the en banc court.