New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting
April 7, 2017

Abstract
[view as PDF]

Uranium Resource Potential in New Mexico

Virginia T. McLemore1 and John Asafo-Akowuah2

1New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM, 87801, virginia.mclemore@nmt.edu
2Mineral Engineering Department, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM, 87801

Mineral resources are the naturally occurring concentrations of materials (solids, gas, or liquid) in or on the earth’s crust that can be extracted economically under current or future economic conditions. The mineral-resource potential of an area is the probability or likelihood that a mineral will occur in sufficient quantities so that it can be extracted economically under current or future conditions, including the occurrence of undiscovered concentrations of metals, nonmetals, industrial materials, and energy resources. The mineral-resource potential is not a measure of the quantities of the mineral resources, but is a measure of the potential of occurrence. Factors that could preclude development of the resource, such as the feasibility of extraction, land ownership, accessibility of the minerals, or the cost of exploration, development, production, processing, or marketing, are not considered in assessing the mineral-resource potential. Mineral-resource potential is a qualitative judgement of the probability of the existence of a commodity and is classified as very high, high, moderate, low, or no potential according to the availability of geologic data and relative probability of occurrence. Although no producing operations exist in New Mexico today, numerous companies have acquired uranium properties within the Grants, Hook Ranch-Riley, and Red Basin-Pietown districts and plan to explore and develop deposits in the future. The mineral-resource potential for uranium is very high (VH) with a high level of certainty (D) in portions of the Morrison and Dakota Formations in the Grants uranium district and high (H) with a high level of certainty (D) in portions of the Morrison Formation elsewhere in the San Juan Basin and in the Todilto Formation in the Grants district. The mineral-resource potential for uranium is moderate (M) with a moderate level of certainty (C) in the Morrison Formation elsewhere in the San Juan Basin and in 19 districts in New Mexico and moderate (M) with a moderate to low level of certainty (B-C) in the Ogallala Formation in southeastern New Mexico. The mineral-resource potential for uranium is low (L) with a low level of certainty (B) in 20 districts throughout New Mexico and in the Morrison Formation in northeastern New Mexico. Exploration has occurred during the last decade in the Hook Ranch-Riley and Red Basin-Pietown districts, and at least one deposit has reported potential resources. Other basins in New Mexico, such as the Las Vegas, Sabinoso, Nacimiento, Chama, and Hagan-La Bajada basins and at Mesa Portales should be evaluated for sandstone uranium deposits. Although worldwide, other types of uranium deposits are higher in grade and larger in tonnage, the Grants district has been a significant source of uranium and has the potential to become an important future source, as low-cost technologies, such as in situ recovery techniques improve, and as demand for uranium increases, thereby increasing the price of uranium.

Keywords:

mineral-resource potential, uranium, Grants district, molybdenum, selenium, vanadium

pp. 55

2017 New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting
April 7, 2017, Macey Center, New Mexico Tech campus, Socorro, NM