The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management approved the expansion of the Lost Creek uranium in-situ recovery project, an existing uranium mine operated by Lost Creek ISR in Sweetwater County.
The record of decision, signed by Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Joseph Balash, will strengthen energy security, expand infrastructure and bolster the local economy, according to a press release.
Specifically, the decision authorizes LCI to expand uranium recovery into the next deeper layer of minerals and onto 5,751 additional surface acres for a total project area of 10,005 acres. Resources within the expansion area will enable LCI to continue operations and sustain employment for an additional six to eight years, until around 2032.
“The department continues to champion investment in American industry and infrastructure by encouraging innovation and responsible development on our public lands,” Balash said in a press release. “Projects like Lost Creek – which will expand production of uranium, a mineral critical to the economic and national security of the United States – underpin our nation’s strong and diverse energy portfolio, and we see their benefits multiplying as this administration empowers communities to maximize the potential of our natural resources.”
The Lost Creek mine develops uranium through in-situ recovery, a process that injects a chemical solution into mineralized sandstone to dissolve uranium. The uranium is then recovered and processed to produce yellowcake, a uranium concentrate used to develop nuclear energy. In-situ recovery is a low-impact recovery process that presents significantly fewer environmental impacts than open pit mining.
The National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Critical and Strategic Mineral Supply Chains has identified uranium as a critical mineral. Executive Order 13817, issued by President Donald Trump on Dec. 20, 2017, identifies a critical mineral as a mineral essential to the economic and national security of the U.S. whose supply chain is vulnerable to disruption and that serves an essential function in a product’s manufacturing, the absence of which would have significant consequences for the U.S. economy or national security.
The existing Lost Creek mine was approved in 2012. The BLM evaluated LCI’s expansion proposal through a public planning and participation process, which ultimately informed the decision to authorize the modifications. To review the record of decision and other analysis documents for the Lost Creek project modifications, visit go.usa.gov/xQwbS.