Uranium resources in the San Juan Basin, New Mexico
Virginia T. McLemore and William L. Chenoweth
New Mexico ranks second in uranium reserves in the United States, with a total of 15 million tons of ore at 0.279% U3O8 at $30/lb or less. The most important uranium deposits in the state are in sandstone within the Morrison Formation (Jurassic) in the Grants and Shiprock uranium districts, San Juan Basin. More than 340 million lbs of U3O8 were produced from these uranium deposits from 1948 through 2001, accounting for 97% of the total uranium production in New Mexico and more than 37% of the total uranium production in the United States. Conventional mining ceased in 1988. From 1989 to 2002, only one company in New Mexico, Quivira Mining Co., owned by BHP-Billiton (successor to Kerr-McGee Corp.), produced uranium from waters recovered from inactive underground operations at Ambrosia Lake, Grants district (mine-water recovery). The Quivira mines and mill are closed and scheduled for reclamation by 2006. Rio Grande Resources Co. is maintaining the closed facilities at the fl ooded Mt. Taylor underground mine in Cibola County. In late 1997, Anaconda Uranium acquired the La Jara Mesa uranium deposit in Cibola County from Homestake Mining Co. Hydro Resources, Inc. has put its plans to mine uranium at Church Rock and Crownpoint by in-situ leaching on hold until the price of uranium increases. Future development of these reserves and resources will depend upon an increase in the price of uranium and in the lowering of production costs, perhaps by the use of in-situ leaching techniques.
- McLemore, Virginia T.; Chenoweth, William L., 2003, Uranium resources in the San Juan Basin, New Mexico, in: Geology of the Zuni Plateau, Lucas, Spencer G.; Semken, Steven C.; Berglof, William R.; Ulmer-Scholle, Dana S., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 54th Field Conference, pp. 165-177.