Try as we might there are some things that are just out of our control. Often we must face the facts, do what needs to be done but at the same time identify a viable solution to our problem. Such is the case for Energy Fuels, the operator of the White Mesa Uranium Mill. Energy Fuels announced the layoff of 24 employees in San Juan County. 12 workers at the mill south of Blanding are affected and 12 employees working at their La Sal Complex uranium mines have been laid off.
Curtis Moore, Vice President of Marketing for the energy company cites the advantages foreign competitors have.
“U.S uranium mining is basically being put out of business from imports, which are increasingly coming from adversarial nations like Russia, China and their allies. Uranium mining companies in those countries are state owned, and they receive significant support and subsidies from their governments. We don’t get that level of support here in the U.S. On a level playing field, we can compete with anyone. But the playing field is not level” Writes Moore in a request for comment from the San Juan County Economic Development and Visitors Services office.
Another Curtis, Utah 3rd district Congressman John Curtis, said as much on the floor of the US House of Representatives on Tuesday January 14th. Congressman Curtis stated in his address to congress:
“I rise today in support of hard-working Utahns in the uranium industry in San Juan County, and especially those who have recently lost their jobs at the White Mesa uranium mill and the La Sal uranium mine complex.
Unfortunately, foreign subsidization of uranium production has had a devastating impact on North American production and has affected the mill’s operations, and as a result, roughly 30% of the employees had to be let go at our nation’s last operating uranium mill.” The Congressman could be seen in news clips the rest of the day breaking the news of the companies layoffs.
Moore of Energy Fuels continues…“We still think the administration will do something . However, we just don’t know when - or what - it will be. Of all the issues the President has to deal with, this is an extremely easy one to fix! So we’re being forced to make some difficult decisions, including these recent layoffs. We’ve been trying to keep as many people employed as possible-for as long as possible. But these delays from the administration are making it very tough.”
Meanwhile the SJC EDVS wants to point out how much this impacts the economy of a county like San Juan, with such low population density. Comparatively, losing 1 job in San Juan County is like losing 205 jobs on the Wasatch Front. According to the Utah Department of Workforce Services this would equate to the layoff of just over 4900 people in the higher population counties of the Wasatch Front.