Despite scaling back, local uranium mining operations quietly moving forward

By Sarah Pridgeon

Powertech Uranium Corp.’s plans to mine the historically uranium-rich area stretching through Wyoming from South Dakota to Colorado have been temporarily scaled back and are currently focused on one project, located in South Dakota. The Oshoto uranium district, in development by Strata Energy Inc., is meanwhile in a period of reduced activity while the safety and environmental review process is completed.

“It’s simply a matter of cash flow,” said Mark Hollenbeck, Project Manager for Powertech’s Dewey Burdock site, of the company’s decision to focus, for now, on a single site. “All our projects are in the permitting and exploration stage.”

Powertech originally planned to mine four separate sites, two within Wyoming borders. Testing at the 17,554-acre project near Aladdin, on the northern flank of the Black Hills Uplift in an area that was mined during the 1950s, revealed mineralized trends extending up to three miles west of the historical drilling.

Dewey Terrace, the second Wyoming site, is located along extensions of the Dewey Burdock Roll Fronts, by the South Dakota border. Powertech’s claims here total 13,738 acres along historic mineralized trends defined by past drilling.

There are no current plans to drill at the two Wyoming sites, although both are considered to be “very promising properties,” said Hollenbeck. A Colorado project, based at Centennial and covering 7,098 acres, has also been “drastically scaled back” to allow all Powertech’s financial resources to be focused on the fourth site at Dewey Burdock, South Dakota.

The Dewey Burdock project covers 18,304 acres on the southwest flank of the Black Hills uplift, part of the northern extension of the Edgemont uranium district. Total production of 8.4 million pounds of uranium and a mine life of nine years is expected at the site.

Powertech’s present focus is on obtaining final permits and licensing for this project; these were expected at the end of the third quarter of 2011 and mine construction is anticipated to begin in 2013. “We’re focusing on Dewey Burdock because it was initially farther along and had the most data, because it had been permitted before,” said Hollenbeck.

Powertech will continue to maintain the Aladdin and Dewey Terrace projects in Wyoming in expectation of future development. “We’re not sure yet of the timescale, it’s dependent on regulation and permitting,” said Hollenbeck.

Strata Energy has also entered a “period of reduced activity,” says Melissa Butcher of PB Communications & Strategic Solutions, speaking on behalf of the company. “Our project is still moving forward, but you won’t see much activity right now.”

As well as winding down for the season and focusing on more targeted drilling, the site is quiet because it is undergoing a safety and environmental review, says Butcher. The application was accepted in June and the review is now in progress and expected to reach the next stage – requests for additional information – in February of next year.

Strata’s parent company, Peninsula Energy, also recently announced that the Oshoto project has received an Air Quality Permit from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, after completion of a review.

“This is a very in-depth procedure, because of the materials we’re dealing with,” says Butcher. “We pride ourselves on adherence to process, because we believe it’s there for a very good reason.”

To find out more about current and future plans at Powertech and Strata Energy, visit http://www.powertechuranium.com and http://www.pel.net.au (Strata Energy parent company).

Note: Corrected website for Strata Energy.