Durango Telegraph - The price of permitting â?? Energy Fuels runs short on cash
The price of permitting â?? Energy Fuels runs short on cash

Whether the Piñon Ridge uranium mill gains approval is one question. Whether the mill and its parent company will be financially viable is an entirely different one. Energy Fuels is “down to its last few dollars” and the short-term outlook for uranium is not exactly rosy.

Energy Fuels, the Toronto-based company pitching the Paradox Valley mill, has admitted that it is teetering on the brink of financial insolvency. The company has written in recent financial statements that it “can support current operations only through early calendar year 2011.”

Frank Filas, environmental manager for the company, confirmed this fact, saying that the company has only enough funding to complete the Piñon Ridge permitting

process. “We’ve got enough cash in the bank to handle the permitting process and the legal appeals that are certainly coming our way,” he said.

Whether the company can swing the $140 to $150 million cost of building the facility remains an unknown. “We’ll be in a much better position to go after that funding once we have a permit in hand,” Filas said.

The future of the uranium business also appears to be on shaky ground. Though uranium prices soared as high as $150 a pound during the Bush era, the price is currently hovering around a humble $50. But Energy Fuels predicts a swing in coming years.

However, conservation group Sheep Mountain Alliance

believes that the entire Piñon Ridge process has been a ruse. Executive Director Hilary White argued that Energy Fuels is banking of the sale of the uranium mill permit.

“It’s purely speculative,” she said. “They have no intention of building this thing. They want an asset and one of the biggest assets in the uranium industry is to have an approved mill.”

Energy Fuels’ shaky finances are yet another argument against approval of the mill, she added. “The fact is that we don’t know who will be operating this facility if it’s approved,” White said. “We know that it’s not going to be Energy Fuels, they are basically bankrupt.”

– Will Sands

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