Layoffs at Beaver and Daneros will be effective the end of this month. Employees at Pandora will likely continue working until January or February, Energy Fuels spokesman Curtis Moore said.
“That’s up in the air because the resource is depleted in that mine,” he said of Pandora. “We think it will be depleted in our second fiscal quarter of 2013.”
The Pandora and Beaver mines are near La Sal. Daneros is 40 miles west of Blanding, about four or five miles south of Fry Canyon.
The layoffs result from low uranium prices, Moore said.
The affected mines will be shut down and placed on “standby” status. A few maintenance workers and mangers will stay on site to make sure the mines can re-open quickly if prices improve, Moore said.
Uranium ore prices have fallen steadily in the last 18 months, from $68 per pound before the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan to about $47 per pound in September. That’s the lowest uranium ore price in two years, according to a Forbes report.
Moore said Energy Fuels’ Sage Plain project 15 miles northeast of Monticello is not affected because it is not producing yet.
“We’re just in the middle of the permitting process for Sage,” he said. “We will continue that. The whole strategy is that once prices do improve we can restart quickly, so you want your permits.”
The Energy Queen mine about two miles west of La Sal also is unaffected by Thursday’s announcement. It has been on standby, Moore said, but could begin producing if needed.
Likewise, no change is planned at the White Mesa Mill in Blanding, which will continue to process non-mined uranium. Moore said that includes uranium bearing materials derived from metal processing and some uranium conversion.
"It is not enriched uranium," Moore said.
“Energy Fuels is well-equipped to adjust our operations to address market conditions,” company president and CEO Stephen Anthony said in a news release. “Although our Colorado Plateau properties will be placed on standby for the time being, we will maintain these assets with the ability to resume production in a timely fashion upon commodity prices improving.”