Time Period: 1955-1957
Facility Type: Department of Energy
Facility Description: The ore buying station at Riverton purchased uranium ore for the AEC. The American Smelting and Refining Company (ASRC) managed and operated the Riverton station from March 1955 to January 1956. Lucius Pitkin replaced ASRC as the M&O contractor in February 1956. The AEC leased the land on which the ore buying station was located from a railroad.
Contractors: American Smelting and Refining Company (1955-1956); and Lucius Pitkin, Inc. (1956-1957)
*The history of domestic uranium procurement under U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) contracts identifies a number of ore buying stations (sampling and storage sites) that were operated during the period late-1949 through the mid-1960s. During this period the AEC established ore-buying stations in new uranium producing areas where it appeared that ore production would be sufficient to support a uranium milling operation. The ideal scenario was to accumulate a sufficient stockpile of ore and construct a mill on the site. Under this scenario the AEC would then withdraw and sell the stockpile of ore to the mill operator for processing. Clean up of the area occupied by the ore-buying station was accomplished along with the cleanup of the mill site. For ore-buying stations that were not included as a part of a mill, the property was cleared, tract leases were terminated and the property was returned to its owners. Cleanup of ore-buying stations on or in the vicinity of mill tailings sites subject to the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 was accomplished, as necessary, under the DOE Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Program.
Ore Buying Station at Riverton is listed as a Department of Energy (DOE) site under the EEOICPA.
Ore Buying Station at Riverton Workers:
If you or your parent worked at this or any other DOE or AWE facility and became ill, you may be entitled to compensation of up to $400K plus medical benefits from the US Department of Labor. Call EEOICPA Counsel Hugh Stephens at 1-855-EEOICPA (336-4272) or fill out the form to the right, even if your claim has been accepted or denied.
We can help with all OWCP (Federal Workers Compensation) claims, impairments, wage loss and health care. 2495 Main Street, Suite 442, Buffalo, NY 14214.
**URANIUM-VANADIUM DEPOSITS OF THE PRYOR MOUNTAINS
Four prospectors George Guay and Leo Eres of Billings, Mont., and Corwin Rule and Ben Helgeland of Pryor, Mont. discovered deposits of uranium minerals near the crest of Big Pryor Mountain on Labor Day, 1955 (Hauptman, 1956, p. 14). Their discovery remained secret during the early winter of that year while they staked claims on much of the mountain crest and initiated minor exploration work (Jarrard, 1957, p. 35). These original prospectors incorporated their properties into the Pryor Mining Co., which included the Old Glory claim (fig. 1) (Hauptman, 1956) within the National Forest. In the winter of early 1956, news of the discoveries was announced and a rush of claim staking ensued. Other corporations claimed the remainder of Big Pryor Mountain and parts of East Pryor Mountain (Jarrard, 1957). “By early 1956 some 450 location notices had been filed with the Carbon County recorder at Red Lodge” (Baber and others, 1958). More discoveries were made in the area and in 1958 approximately 500 uranium occurrences were known on Big Pryor Mountain (Hart, 1958).
During the first year of production, 1956, the Old Glory mine (fig. 5) of Pryor Mining Co. was the largest producer in the district (Hauptman, 1956). “Small tonnages of ore” were shipped from the Pryor Mountains deposits by three companies to the AEC (Atomic Energy Commission) ore-buying station in Riverton, Wyoming (Baber and others, 1958). High-grade (hand-picked) uranium ores were hauled by truck to Bridger, Montana, and transferred to railroad cars. Hand-picked ores from the Swamp Frog mine (figs. 1 and 6) were the typical ore extracted in 1956 from these deposits; they were described as follows: “The 5-gallon can of highgrade contains 31.8% uranium, 9.88% vanadium; they have 1500 pounds of this, worth $5,000 per ton” (Hauptman, 1956, p. 18). Uranium ores at the Old Glory and Swamp Frog mines, as well as later discoveries in the area, were mainly excavated from shallow underground adits and stopes that extended up to a couple hundred feet into the hillsides. Prospect pits and occasional open-pit excavations accounted for the remainder of the ore production. The larger open-pit mines, such as those still visible near the Swamp Frog mine, extended no more than 200 ft in length, 100 ft in width, and 20 ft in depth.
During 1957, “small tonnages of uranium ore were shipped from [seven] mines in the Pryor Mountains to AEC ore-buying stations at Riverton, Wyo., and Grand Junction, Colo.” (Baber and others, 1959). In 1958, companies actively mining the Pryor Mountains deposits were: Lisbon Uranium Corp., Midland Mining Co., Planet Exploration Co., Pryor Mining Co., and Balboa Mining and Development Co. (also referred to as Prytana Mining Co.) (Fulkerson and others, 1959; Stout and Ackerman, 1959). In 1958, seven properties produced a total of 690 tons of ore with an average grade of 0.34 percent uranium oxide and a total value of nearly $20,000 (in 1959 dollars) (Fulkerson and others, 1959). In 1959, mining operations were continued at six properties by only three companies Lisbon Uranium Corp. (leading producer), Midland Mining Co., and Planet Exploration Corp. (Crowley, 1960; Fulkerson and others, 1960). With a total output of 2,890 tons of ore containing 9,912 pounds of uranium oxide this was the record year for uranium ore production from the Pryor Mountains deposits (Fulkerson and others, 1960).
During the early 1960’s modest uranium ore production continued in the Pryor Mountains. Six properties were mined in 1960. The Hidden Splendor Mining Co., the largest producer, mined claims in the Dandy, Marie, and Perc groups (fig. 1) and the Bob claim (location unknown) (Fulkerson and others, 1961). Joseph (Joe) A. Highsmith also mined properties in the Dandy and Perc claim groups, while Pryor Mining Co. continued production from the Old Glory mine, and James J. Stoick worked the Swamp Frog mine. Total production from these properties in 1960 was 1,726 tons of ore, which was shipped to the AEC plant at Riverton, Wyo. (Fulkerson and others, 1961). The average grade of the ore (uranium oxide content) increased in 1960 compared to 1959, while total output and value declined (Fulkerson and others, 1961). During 1961 all uranium ore production from the district (at the time known as the Butte district) came from the mines of Joe Highsmith, including the Dandy, Perc (fig. 1) and Leo properties (location unknown) (Fulkerson and others, 1962). Uranium production totals declined $18,984 from 1960 to 1961; only 729 tons of ore containing slightly lower average ore grades were produced in 1961 (Fulkerson and others, 1962). In 1962 only the Swamp Frog property, worked by John Kummerfeld, produced uranium ore resulting in the lowest yearly production from the district (Fulkerson and others, 1963; Geach and Chelini, 1963). Ore output dropped significantly in 1963, with all production coming from the Old Glory mine operated by the Pryor Mining Co. (Knostman and Kauffman, 1964). The last year of reported uranium ore production from the Pryor Mountains was 1964 when production came from underground mines at the Dandy and Marie properties (fig. 1) worked by St. Clair, Inc. Hale and Knostman (1965) indicate that the uranium output of 1964 was above that of 1963, but was still below the nominal output of 1962 (no productivity values were reported for 1964).