Wyoming Uranium Producers Bullish About Future

May 21, 2014

L-R: Mark Wilcox, Wyoming Business Report; Paul Gorenson, Uranerz; Donna Wichers, Uranium One; Wayne Heili, Ur-Energy; Ken Vaughn, Cameco.
Credit Stephanie Joyce

Uranium producers in Wyoming are optimistic about the future, despite a recent slump in prices. The uranium market tanked after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, with the indefinite shutdown of Japan’s reactors, but speaking during a panel discussion at the Wyoming Energy Summit this week, uranium mining executives like Donna Wichers of Uranium One said while it’s been a setback, it’s just that.

“I think, you know, we’re going to see a few years of pain and then the fundamentals are there," Wichers said. "It’s going to be a very bright future for Wyoming because we have the uranium and we have the capacity to mine it."

In particular, Wichers and others emphasized that Wyoming has some of the cheapest uranium production costs in the world, and that 90 new nuclear plants are expected to come online in the next decade, mostly in India and China. Uranerz COO Paul Goranson also said nuclear power might look more attractive if limits are placed on carbon emissions from power plants.

“If one is a true believer in man-made climate change, or global warming, then how can one not be one hundred percent for nuclear power?” Goranson asked.

The executives said their business would be further improved by state takeover of permitting. The state commissioned a report last year that said it would cost $4.5 million for it to take over regulatory duties from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The legislature is reviewing the report.