Introduction and History
Commercial uranium mining operations in the United States, beginning in the post World War II era, were primarily open pit mining. Open pit mining was the primary extraction method until in-situ recovery (ISR) began in the State of Wyoming in 1961. ISR is also known as in situ leaching (ISL), or solution mining. It is a mining process utilized to recover minerals, such as uranium, through boreholes drilled into an ore bearing deposit, in-situ.
The USA uranium mining industry has experienced boom and bust cycles. The post World War II era activity in the uranium mining industry was fueled by the US Atomic Energy Commission’s (AEC) desire to develop its nuclear program. Uranium mining projects in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s were very active because they were driven by the growth of the U.S. nuclear defense program and the commercialization of nuclear power reactors for electrical production.