DENVER – A proposed Paradox Valley uranium mill cleared another hurdle Thursday, winning government approval to build 40 acres of wastewater ponds.
The Environmental Protection Agency granted the approval to Energy Fuels Resources Corp., which has plans to build the country’s first uranium mill in decades near Naturita.
Energy Fuels already has gotten a permit to build the mill from the state health department, but opponents have sued to overturn that license.
Thursday’s approval from the EPA gives Energy Fuels permission to build a 30.5-acre tailings cell and up to 40 acres of evaporation ponds.
The mill will extract uranium from ore by grinding the rock and mixing it with water. Acid extracts the uranium and vanadium, and the waste rock and water is pumped into a tailings cell.
Water that can’t be recycled from the tailings cell is pumped into the evaporation pond, according to the EPA.