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Uranium mill in San Juan County is getting a boost from DOE

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UPR
San Juan County

The DOE will purchase up to one million pounds of domestically-produced uranium as part of a program to ensure a supply of the material in case of market disruptions.

Curtis Moore is Vice President of Marketing at Energy Fuels. His company produces uranium and operates the last conventional mill in the United States. That’s in San Juan County. He said so far the reserve program is very limited… not enough to bring another uranium boom to our region.

"It's not likely to result in any new mining or processing of uranium or anything like that. But it's a very small step. But we we think it's a very important first step to try to restore these critical capabilities," said Moore.

The purchased uranium will come from America's only conversion facility that’s in Illinois.

Funding for the stockpile comes from the 2020 federal budget.

But it’s not the only effort by the Biden administration to strengthen domestic uranium supplies. The Infrastructure Bill included six billion dollars to support nuclear power plants at risk of closing.

Moore said he’s been encouraged by the administration.

They clearly understand just how important uranium and nuclear fuel is on a number of fronts, particularly in the in the fight against climate change, but also for national security and energy security purposes.

The U.S. imports most of the uranium used to power reactors. Last year fourteen percent of the reactor fuel came from Russia. Forty-three percent came from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, that’s according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Stiff opposition remains towards new mining and milling of uranium in the country. The Ute Mountain Ute tribe in White Mesa claims Energy Fuels’ mill near their land has polluted the air and water. It’s a claim Energy Fuels disputes.

Meanwhile in May the DOE announced they are working on a "broad uranium strategy" to support nuclear reactors. They have yet to release those plans.

This report is from KZMU News in Moab.