The Juan Tafoya Project is located at the northeast end of the Grants Mineral Belt, which has been the largest source of uranium production in the United States and holds one of the largest concentrations of sandstone-hosted uranium deposits in the world.
The Juan Tafoya Project is the site of two uranium deposits, Marquez and Southeast, at a depth of approximately 2,000 feet below the surface. The deposits were subject to historical construction including advancement of a concrete lined production shaft to over 1,800 feet at the Marquez deposit before construction was halted before any production in the early 1980s.
Uranium Resources commissioned the preparation of a Canadian National Instrument 43-101 Technical Report on Mineral Resources for the Juan Tafoya project. The report defines non-reserve mineralized material for the two deposits at the project, which have been estimated to contain approximately 4.2 million short tons averaging 0.145% eU3O8, containing approximately 12.24 million pounds of uranium at a cut-off grade of 0.08% eU3O8. This non-reserve mineralized material is classified as “Inferred” under the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) Definition Standards.
Based on the quantity and quality of the in-place mineralized material, the technical report recommends that the Company advance the Juan Tafoya Project to a Preliminary Economic Assessment. The Company is evaluating the Technical Report recommendations and expects to make a decision on further development and assessment work in conjunction with the completion of evaluation of the Company’s other key assets in New Mexico.
Uranium Resources holds a mining lease with the Juan Tafoya Land Corporation (also referred to as “JTLC”) for an area encompassing approximately 4,096 acres of privately-owned (deeded) surface and mineral rights. In addition to the JTLC lease, Uranium Resources holds twenty-five leases on small tracts of private in-holdings, covering approximately 115 acres, all of which are situated within the overall boundaries of the JTLC property. The combined land holdings for the Juan Tafoya portion of the Cibola project are approximately 4,211 acres of surface and mineral rights. All of the leases, each of which has an initial term of ten years, may be extended at the Company’s option by undertaking mineral exploration, mine development, and mining and/or mineral processing operations on the properties.
As the Juan Tafoya project is located some distance to the east-southeast of the Ambrosia Lake mining district, the project area did not attract meaningful uranium exploration interest until 1969, when Devilliers Nuclear initiated an exploration drilling program in the vicinity of the village of Marquez. The Devilliers holdings were ultimately purchased by Bokum Resources Corporation in 1975. Bokum undertook a comprehensive exploration drilling program, which resulted in the identification of the two uranium deposits hosted in the Westwater Canyon Member of the Morrison Formation.
Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO), a New York-based utility, entered into a series of uranium supply transactions with Bokum Resources beginning in 1976, and LILCO provided long-term financing to Bokum for the advancement of the Juan Tafoya project exploration and development drilling and facilities construction activities. As a consequence of bankruptcy proceedings involving Bokum Resources, LILCO initiated a foreclosure action against Bokum’s interests in the Juan Tafoya properties, and the US Bankruptcy Court issued a final decree of foreclosure to LILCO in 1991.
Prior to its bankruptcy, Bokum carried out a comprehensive exploration program on a portion of the Juan Tafoya property and completed more than 500 rotary and core holes, resulting in the discovery of the Marquez and Southeast uranium deposits. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Bokum commenced development of the Marquez deposit, by sinking a 14-foot diameter shaft to a depth of 1,842 feet, completed a 5-foot diameter ventilation shaft to a depth of approximately 2,100 feet and began construction of a 2,200 short ton per day mill approximately 1.5 miles east of the shaft site that was never completed. The mine surface facilities (hoist, head frame, etc.) and the mill were subsequently dismantled and removed from the property. No ore was ever mined or processed at these facilities.
Bokum and LILCO collectively invested approximately $65 million in the project, including costs for drilling, shaft sinking, and partial construction of the mill.
Since acquisition of the lease for the Juan Tafoya Project in 2006 the Company has acquired a very extensive set of technical data pertaining to the exploration and drilling, design and engineering drawings of the former mill and various metallurgical test reports. URRE staff have completed a comprehensive geological study of both the Marquez and Southeast deposits, prepared an updated mineral resource model of both deposits, and carried out extensive biological and cultural resource studies of much of the project area.
The two principal sandstone-hosted uranium deposits at Juan Tafoya are the Marquez deposit on the northwestern end of the property and the smaller Southeast deposit, approximately three-quarters of a mile southeast from Marquez. Both of these trend-type uranium deposits are hosted in the Westwater Canyon Member of the Jurassic-aged Morrison Formation, the principal host for sandstone-hosted uranium deposits in the Grants Mineral Belt.
The Marquez uranium deposit is comprised of three distinct pods, or lenses, of tabular mineralization, while the Southeast deposit is a long, narrow zone of mineralization. The deposits are all lenticular and tabular in form, and plunge gently to the west. The geometry of the individual mineralized zones seems to have been strongly influenced by the size, shape and orientation of the host channel systems. The majority of the mineralization was localized in a braided fluvial system, although two areas show the characteristics of a meandering fluvial system.
Both the Marquez and Southeast deposits are situated beneath the water table, at depths ranging from 1,950 to 2,100 feet beneath the surface.
Project Environmental and Permitting Status
There has been no uranium production on the Juan Tafoya property. As such, there are no known reclamation obligations relating to the historical activities, and no liabilities that accrue to Uranium Resources.
The Company holds an Exploration Permit issued by the State of New Mexico to conduct exploration drilling of up to 44 holes to a depth of 2,500 feet each at the Juan Tafoya Project. The Company has not yet commenced any drilling under this permit.