EnCore Energy (TSXV: EU) has won a court challenge to its $32 million Dewey-Burdock uranium project in South Dakota.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe and watchdog group Aligning for Responsible Mining wanted a United States appeals court to review its decision in August approving the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) licence for enCore to mine uranium at the project about 150 km southwest of Rapid City, SD.
The court denied the request on Thursday, but the project’s opponents can appeal to the US Supreme Court.
Jeffrey C. Parsons, a lawyer based in Lyons, CO with the Western Mining Action Project who argued for the Indigenous group, didn’t immediately reply to a phone call Friday morning seeking comment.
An enCore spokesperson said by phone the company may provide comment on the court’s decision.
The Dewey-Burdock in-situ recovery project is among several others enCore is pursuing in Texas, Wyoming and New Mexico as the company plugs in to a renewed interest in nuclear power by governments for producing energy without harmful gas emissions. Several countries have rolled back attempts to retire nuclear plants in the face of a European energy crisis and calls to fight climate change.
A 2020 report shows Dewey-Burdock has 5.4 million tonnes grading 0.132% uranium oxide for contained metal of 14.4 million lb. over a 16-year mine life. EnCore estimated construction costs at $31.7 million, a post-income tax net present value of $147.5 million at a discount rate of 8% and an internal rate of return of 50%. The calculations used a uranium price of $55 per lb., an operating cost of $10.46 per lb. and royalties and local taxes of $5.15 per lb. of production.
According to court documents, the project’s opponents objected to how the NRC conducted environmental impact studies from 2009-2019 on the property and the proposed in-situ recovery process. In-situ recovery involves pumping a solution into underground ore beds to dissolve uranium, then pumping it to the surface where the uranium is recovered for processing into fuel.