Uranium deposits are considered "locatable minerals" under The General Mining Law of 1872, as amended. That law opened the public lands of the United States to mineral acquisition by the location and maintenance of mining claims. The exploration and mining of these types of mineral deposits are administered under the General Mining Law Regulations at 43 CFR 3800. For more information visit the OR/WA BLM's Locatable mineral website: http://www.blm.gov/or/programs/minerals/locatable-minerals.php.
Other information on Mining Claims and Sites on Federal Lands can be found under related links on BLM's National Minerals and Mining website at: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/more/non-energy_minerals.html.
Uranium on BLM-Administered Lands in OR/WA
In September 2011, a representative from Oregon Energy, L.L.C. met with local citizens, and county and state officials, to discuss the possibility of opening a uranium oxide ("yellowcake") mine in southern Malheur County in southeastern Oregon. Oregon Energy is interested in developing a 17-Claim parcel of land known as the Aurora Project through an open pit mining method. Besides the mine, there would be a mill for processing. The claim area occupies about 450 acres and is also referred to as the "New U" uranium claims.
On May 7, 2012, Oregon Energy L.L.C. made a presentation to the BLM outlining its plans for development for the mine.
The Vale District has agreed to work with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on mitigation for the "New U" uranium claims, which are located in core sage grouse habitat. Although the lands encompassing the claims have been designated core, the area is frequented by rockhounds and hunters, and has a crisscrossing of off-highway vehicle (OHV) roads and other significant land disturbance from the defunct Bretz Mercury Mine, abandoned in the 1960s.
However, by the fall of 2012 the company said that it was putting its plans for the mine on hold until the uncertainty surrounding sage grouse issues was resolved.
Location information for the Aurora Project can be found on the "Non-Renewable Energy Projects of Oregon" map at this website: http://www.blm.gov/or/energy.