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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Legacy Management is currently executing new 10-year leases with existing lessees under the Uranium Leasing Program. The existing lessees are Cotter Corporation, EFR Colorado Plateau Partners LLC (a wholly owned subsidiary of Energy Fuels Inc.), Gold Eagle Mining Inc., and Golden Eagle Uranium LLC. After an eight-year hiatus, DOE is restarting the Uranium Leasing Program, allowing uranium mining on public lands to resume. The new leases have formally incorporated the stringent environmental standards from the previous leases and have added new environmental stipulations identified in the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement and subsequent Record of Decision.

Once the new leases are executed, the lessees may begin preparing exploration and mining plans and site-specific environmental evaluations that DOE must approve before any activities, especially mining, can be initiated. In addition, the lessees must provide reclamation performance bonds and develop site-specific mitigation plans for each mining activity.

DOE met with the existing lessees on October 8-9, 2019, to review the new lease template and describe the similarities and differences between prior and new leases. A DOE environmental compliance officer emphasized that the lessees must adhere to the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other environmental regulations. Renewed leases require a detailed environmental assessment of the impacts of future mining to ensure protection of air, water, wildlife, and cultural resources.

Under the Uranium Leasing Program, DOE manages 31 lease tracts covering approximately 25,000 acres in the Uravan Mineral Belt in southwestern Colorado. Twenty-nine of these lease tracts are actively held under lease and two tracts have been placed in inactive status indefinitely. Administrative duties by DOE include ongoing monitoring and oversight of lessee activities and annual inspections of lessee operations to identify and correct safety hazards or environmental compliance issues.

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Overview of the open pit mine site on Lease Tract C-JD-7
Overview of the open pit mine site on Lease Tract C-JD-7.