Canadian drills for uranium

Canadian drills for uranium

An exploration company is drilling for uranium on a largely unexplored side of Lisbon Valley, near Moab, where a penniless geologist discovered one of the richest ore bodies in the United States a half-century ago.

“I’m betting everything I have on Lisbon Valley,” said Clive Massey, president of Universal Uranium Ltd. of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Universal Uranium started a second round of drilling Tuesday on 7,300 acres of mining claims bought from the family of Charlie Steen, who made the 1952 discovery that produced more than 80 million pounds of high-grade uranium ore over 40 years, and Vancouver prospector R. Terry Heard.

The fault that created Lisbon Valley may hide a continuation of that ore body. Another British Columbia exploration company, Mesa Uranium, says it’s closing in on the same uranium-speckled sandstone deposits.

Steen found uranium ore in abundance on the west side of Lisbon Valley, about 320 miles south of Salt Lake City, and Massey believes an even richer ore deposit will be found on the valley’s east side, deeper underground, in the same displaced sandstone layer.

Universal Uranium, a publicly traded company organized in 2005 that has yet to make any money, says it’s budgeting $3.4 million for the drilling.

Massey said Lisbon Valley is the company’s most promising out of a handful of exploration projects.

Universal Uranium’s first dozen test drills earlier this year intersected zones of promising uranium mineralization, and it plans to drill another 18 holes in an effort to pinpoint the zone of richest ore, he said.

Uranium yellowcake was selling for $56 a pound Tuesday, up from a historic low of $7 in 2001. The nuclear fuel is in demand as stockpiles dwindle and nuclear power enjoys a renaissance in a world running short of oil and natural gas.

U.S. utilities are looking at building as many as 27 reactors, the same number of plants under construction in other countries, according to government and industry figures.

Energy companies are making plans to reopen uranium mills in Utah and Wyoming, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission just licensed a $1.5 billion uranium enrichment plant near Eunice, N.M., where ground was broken in August.

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