Oil sands mine inching closer to reality in Uintah Basin

Published: Monday, Jan. 21 2013 11:48 p.m. MST

Todd said d-limonene has been falsely characterized as "toxic" by opponents, when it is actually EPA-certified as nontoxic, is biodegradable and commonly used in household products that include cosmetics.

The actual open-pit mine site will be the size of a typical Wal-Mart parking lot and be reclaimed, or re-covered, as the mining continues.

"This is not typical of any oil sands operation in that we will be returning the sand as we go," Todd said. "We will be covering the area with topsoil and revegetating. Many of these operations are very, very big and stay open for decades. Ours is quite modest, and you will only see a tiny fraction developed at one time."

Foes, he added, also like to compare the PR Spring project to what has been done in Canada.

"Most people think this is an extension of what has been done in Canada, but this is something that has never been done anywhere," Todd said.

"The technology of what is based in Canada is over 80 to 90 years old, originally developed when people were driving Model Ts," he said. "None of us should make a judgment on cars today based on Model Ts. No one should make a judgment on what will be done in Utah on what has historically been done many over many decades in Canada."

U.S. Oil Sands holds leases to 32,000 acres of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration property.

The PR Spring mining permit involves the 213-acre site on a plateau in the Book Cliffs region, which Todd said is targeted for starting production in mid-2014.

John Andrews, associate director and chief legal counsel for the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, said the initial production phase will generate between $1 million and $3 million in revenue for the trust lands administration via royalties.

Todd said any expansion of the project beyond the PR Spring site, which was first initiated in 2005, would require additional rounds of regulatory permits from state agencies.

Email: amyjoi@desnews.com Twitter: amyjoi16

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