South Texas Projects
All five projects are within 75 miles of the Company’s currently licensed and idled Rosita and Kingsville Dome processing facilities and within the South Texas uranium province.
At the Alta Mesa Este and Sejita Dome Projects, uranium mineralization occurs in sandstones of the Goliad Formation, similar to the Company’s Kingsville Dome deposit and the nearby Alta Mesa Mine, owned by Mesteña Uranium, LLC. The Butler Ranch and Jack Pump Projects are located in the Karnes County mining district, which was historically one of the largest uranium-producing areas in Texas. The Nell Project is situated on the northeastern extension of the Ray Point mining area, which was the site of several important uranium deposits that were mined in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Mineralization at the Butler Ranch and Jack Pump Projects is hosted in the Jackson Group, and mineralization at the Nell Project is hosted in rocks of the Catahoula Formation. In all cases mineralization below the water table at these projects is believed to be amenable to in-situ recovery (ISR) based upon historic results from nearby ISR mines in the same geologic units.
The Company holds leases covering more than 8,000 acres of privately-owned surface and mineral leases for the five exploration projects in the South Texas Uranium Province, which generally parallels the Gulf of Mexico from Karnes County in the north to Brooks County in the south.
Access to the exploration projects is good and is via a combination of federal, state and county paved roads. All of the projects are within a few miles of historic uranium mines previously served by electrical power lines, and are in proximity of moderately-sized towns.
Essentially all of the historical uranium production from Texas has come from sandstone-hosted deposits in the South Texas uranium province. The first meaningful uranium production in the state in1959 came from a shallow deposit in Karnes County, which is in close proximity to the Company's Butler Ranch project.
Extensive exploration by numerous companies, including Anaconda, Chevron, Conoco, Union Carbide, US Steel, and others defined numerous uranium deposits in what was to become the South Texas uranium province, over the period from the late 1950s through the mid-to-late 1970s. These discoveries resulted in the outlining of concentrations of deposits in the Karnes County, Ray Point and George West (Clay West) mining districts, and the South Duval County uranium belt.
Uranium Resources acquired the five projects in late 2014, as part of a non-cash asset exchange with Rio Grande Resources.
The South Texas Uranium Province is an arcuate belt of sandstone-hosted uranium deposits that are hosted in clastic rocks ranging in age from Eocene to Miocene/Pliocene. The belt, which is 30 miles or more in width and more than 160 miles in length, parallels the present-day coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
Uranium mineralization is hosted in fluvial sandstones of the Eocene-age Jackson Group, the Oligocene/Miocene-age Catahoula Formation, Miocene-age Oakville Formation and Miocene/Pliocene-age Goliad Formation. Major channel systems through the region as well as high-angle fault zones and salt domes along the Gulf of Mexico coastal plain combined to localize uranium mineralization into distinct deposits and concentrations of deposits that constitute mining districts.
Uranium deposits occur as “roll-fronts” in the more porous and permeable sandstones, and they have been localized by concentrations of organic plant debris in the sandstones, or where hydrocarbon gasses have migrated upward into the host rocks along high-angle faults. The host rocks have shallow easterly to southeasterly dips. On the up-dip (westerly to north-westerly) portions of the South Texas uranium province, certain deposits were oxidized, particularly at or near outcrops, but were generally not oxidized for those deposits positioned below the water table. Most of the targets on the Company’s exploration projects are situated below the water table.
An important aspect of many of the uranium deposits in the region, especially those below the water table, is that many have actual grades of mineralization that are higher than the radiometric-derived grades.
Environmental and Permitting Status
The Company has submitted applications for drilling permits to the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) for drilling programs at the Alta Mesa Este and Butler Ranch Projects, and work is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2015.
Any future in-situ recovery project will require permits and licenses from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
Below is a brief description of each of the major projects, Alta Mesa Este, Butler Ranch and Sejita Dome.
Alta Mesa Este
The Alta Mesa Este Project is located about 56 miles southwest of the Company’s Kingsville Dome processing facility, and northeast of Mesteña Uranium’s Alta Mesa processing plant and well fields. An exploration drilling program at the Alta Mesa Este project is planned for 2015 and will include drilling (up to 27,000 feet) and geophysical logging to further evaluate the magnitude and intensity of mineralization in the target area.
Historic drill data from the early 1980s, when the property was controlled by Chevron Resources, outlined wide-spread uranium mineralization in the Goliad Formation in the project area and on nearby lands. The Company has been analyzing historical information from drilling in the 1980s and has identified a target area approximately 1.5 miles along the east-west strike of mineralization hosted in the Goliad Formation.
The area of the Alta Mesa Este Project hosts several important “roll-front” uranium deposits, and the Company considers its leases to have good potential for the discovery of additional mineralization.
The Butler Ranch Project is located in the prolific Karnes County mining district, which has some of the largest uranium deposits in the South Texas uranium province. The project is situated about 75 miles north-northeast of the Company’s Rosita processing plant and about 45 miles southeast of San Antonio.
Uranium mineralization at Butler Ranch is hosted in multiple parallel southwest-northeast trending zones of roll-fronts in sandstone units of the Jackson Group. This area saw the development of numerous open-pit mines in the 1950s through the 1970s, each of which was designed to extract uranium from deposits that were situated above the water table. The Company's targets are deposits that are situated below the water table and would be amenable to in-situ recovery methods.
An initial exploration drilling program is planned for early in 2015 and is designed to test the mineral potential in parallel trending roll-front systems in sandstones, and the continuation of the Turner-Garcia mineral system onto one of the Company's leases.
The Sejita Dome Project is located about 35 miles west of the Kingsville Dome facility and east of the town of Hebbronville. The exploration target at Sejita Dome is a series of roll-fronts hosted in the Goliad Formation, where mineralization was previously identified along the eastern flank of a salt dome. The Sejita Dome Project has several geological similarities to the Company’s Kingsville Dome uranium deposit. Historical data in the Company’s files show the presence of uranium mineralization at numerous locations on the Company’s leases. Many of these targets do not appear to have been assessed in a detailed manner as yet.