Gold Eagle Mining, Inc., a Colorado company, is revising its reclamation plans for mines on lease tracts managed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Legacy Management (LM) Uranium Leasing Program (ULP).

ULP administers 31 lease tracts, all located within the Uravan Mineral Belt in southwestern Colorado. LM administrative duties include ongoing monitoring and oversight of leaseholder activities, as well as annual inspections to identify and correct safety hazards or environmental compliance issues.

Gold Eagle Mining signed three 10-year uranium mining leases with ULP in January 2020. The company has held leases with ULP since 1998. Three of its mines are on a ULP lease tract near the Dolores River at Slick Rock. A fourth overlooks the Paradox Valley in Montrose County. The mines have been out of operation since the early 1980s.

A 2008 Colorado state law requires that a mining company meet rigorous environmental regulations, including development of a reclamation plan, to retain its uranium mining permits in good standing. LM provided Gold Eagle Mining the requirements for the leases, and the company has agreed to perform the proposed reclamation activities to keep its current leases.

According to the Code of Colorado Regulations, reclamation is defined as, “the employment, during and after a mining operation, of procedures reasonably designed to minimize as much as practicable the disruption from the mining operation and to provide for the establishment of plant cover, stabilization of soil, the protection of water resources, or other measures appropriate to the subsequent beneficial use of such affected lands.”

To meet the state’s requirements, and the requirements of the Stipulated Agreement with the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, Gold Eagle Mining submitted reclamation plans to DOE for review in June 2014. Review of these plans stalled until the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado lifted the injunction. In 2020, DOE began review of those plans and is working with Gold Eagle Mining to revise the plans to better reflect current site conditions. Once the plans are approved by DOE, the company will resubmit its revised plan to the state of Colorado for approval of activity on its permit.

“LM is committed to ensuring proper reclamation and mitigation of these mines and to protecting human health and the environment, while partnering with companies like Gold Eagle Mining,” said Ed Cotter, the ULP Lead with LM Strategic Partner.

Gold Eagle Mining does not have current plans to begin mining. However, the company does want to retain the right to begin mining operations should it become financially feasible. A consistent price above $450 per ton of ore is considered financially feasible for a company to begin mining operations for uranium. Uranium has not consistently traded at that amount in several years.

“Should Gold Eagle decide to resume mining again, they will need to prepare exploration and mining plans and site-specific environmental impact evaluations that DOE must approve before any mining can be initiated. In addition, specific mitigation plans will also need to be developed before mining can resume.” said Cotter.

C-JD-5 Headframe near Naturita, Colorado.
C-JD-5 Headframe near Naturita, Colorado.