Only US oil sands mine hit by protests

US Oil Sands (CVE:USO), building what will be the first and only bitumen extraction operation in the US, was hit with protests on Tuesday.

Aggregates Manager reports 21 protesters were arrested at the PR Spring site in Utah after they chained themselves to fences and equipment.

The 21 protesters were part of a group of around 80 calling themselves the Utah Tar Sands Resistance group and "the arrests were not easy for police and did become physical," according to the report.

According to the group "multiple technical and non-technical blockades were deployed to keep the peace and prevent further destruction by construction crews" that resulted in a day-long stoppage of construction.

US Oil Sand's PR Spring mine and processing facility is targeting an initial 2,000 barrel per day at a construction cost of $60 million.

Operating costs per barrel is estimated at as little as $26 a barrel and the modular building process means easier expansion.

The Calgary-based company has a 100% interest in bitumen leases covering 32,000 acres of land in the Uintah basin, the largest on state land in the US.

In April US Oil Sands received approval of a US Patent application for its bitumen extraction process.

US Oil Sands say their approach eliminates need for tailings ponds, requires 50% less energy input than traditional oil sands projects, recycles 95% of the water used and has small above ground footprint.

Only US oil sands player's low cost extraction patent approved

US Oil Sands say their approach eliminates need for tailings ponds, requires 50% less energy input than traditional oil sands projects and recycles 95% of the water used.

The company's pioneering process uses a citrus extract called d-Limonene as a solvent to separate bitumen from sand. d-Limonene oil from orange rind is used industrial cleansers.

The company raised $81 million in October last year and holds the only commercial bitumen extraction project permitted in the US.

Shares in the $107 million company are showing losses for 2014 – it is down nearly 16% year to date, but the tightly-held counter is up nearly 20% on the Toronto venture market compared to this time last year.

Image from US Oil Sands Inc and YouTube