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The Associated Press December 1, 2010, 9:47AM ET

NRC approves uranium license transfer in Wyoming

Two uranium mines in Wyoming are on their way to control by a Russian company now that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved transferring the mines' licenses.

The commission last week approved the license transfer involving a Russian company, JSC Atomoredzoloto, or ARMZ, which expects to obtain a controlling interest in Canadian-owned Uranium One by year's end. Uranium One holds the licenses for a proposed in-situ uranium mine and an existing in-situ uranium mine in northeast Wyoming.

The commission continues to prohibit exporting the uranium. The proposed deal nonetheless had raised concern among Wyoming's congressional delegation that said the uranium could in theory go overseas and serve against U.S. interests.

"The administration must maintain rigorous oversight of this project and ensure this transaction does not undercut America's national or energy security," Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said through a spokeswoman Tuesday.

Sen. Mike Enzi and Rep. Cynthia Lummis, both R-Wyo., also promised they would keep an eye on the deal.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission responded to informal inquiries from Barrasso's office regarding whether the uranium could be easily exported, said NRC spokesman David McIntyre.

Uranium One remains the licensee, he said, and would need to apply to the commission for an export license to send the uranium outside the country.

Most existing Uranium One customers are in the U.S., said Chris Sattler, executive vice president of investor relations for Uranium One.

"For us in terms of selling that uranium production form the United States, it would make sense for us to deliver on those contracts," he said.

Uranium One on Friday announced closing the initial $610 million phase of the transaction with ARMZ. The companies expect a final deal giving ARMZ a 51 percent holding in Uranium One shares to close by the end of December.

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