August 25, 2008

Uranium Coring Results ‘Excellent’


An Australian company coring for uranium in southwestern North Dakota says preliminary results are excellent.

PacMag Metals, which formed Formation Resources in North Dakota to do business here, posted its findings on its company Web site Thursday.

Its initial report based on samples from 12 holes found a high percentage of U3O8 uranium at depths of less than 70 feet.

Project manager Joe Guilinger said the uranium results "look very good," but finding good percentages of molybdenum and germanium in the same samples makes the project even more enticing.

Germanium is a very rare elemental metal that has applications in solar cells and electrical conductivity. Guilinger said the company wouldn't have known to look for germanium except for a fleeting reference to it in an old geological survey document.

The company will continue to test more of the 330 core samplings it has taken, plus metallurgical samplings from six trenches, all on private land in Billings County southwest of Belfield. Then it can estimate the size of the uranium resource, as well as germanium and molybdenum - used to strengthen steel - and move toward environmental assessments later this year.

PacMag's Formation Resources is the only company with a uranium exploration permit in North Dakota. There has been other interest because of a surge in the price and renewed interest in nuclear energy.

It has 25,000 private acres under lease and is continuing to negotiate for more, the report says.

Guilinger said the company has also received "preliminary word" that it can prospect for uranium on the Little Missouri National Grasslands in Slope County, possibly as soon as September. The U.S. Forest Service reviewed the request and will authorize it, with conditions, he said.

PacMag-Formation Resources plans to open-pit mine for uranium, digging down to the uraniferous coal seams.

It would process the uranium into yellowcake at some rail loading location in western North Dakota, Guilinger said.

The mining and extraction would likely involve the Public Service Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the State Health Department, said PSC's mine director Jim Deutsch.

Ed Murphy, state geologist, said PacMag's public notice of its results is required by the Australian government.

Here, the same information - like a wildcat oil well - would remain in confidential status for at least a year, he said.

"It's kind of surprising to have this information," Murphy said.

(Reach reporter Lauren Donovan at 888-303-5511 or [email protected])

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