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Sarah Kanouse, An abandoned mine overlooks the Dolores river in Western Colorado, 2014,


Slick Rock Mining District

The area of the Slick Rock district saw the first production of uranium on the Colorado Plateau. The Slick Rock mining district, whose principal producing area was known originally as the McIntyre district, was one of the first in the Colorado Plateau region to attract attention for its deposits of uranium, vanadium, and radium. Mining began again in 1949 for the major production of uranium, with vanadium as a byproduct. This period lasted until 1983 and ended when the price of uranium went into serious decline. Renewed interest in demand for uranium is reviving mining in the district.

The Slick Rock processing sites consist of two former uranium and vanadium ore processing facilities located in a remote area of southwest Colorado about 22 miles north of the town of Dove Creek in San Miguel County. In 1945, the federal government acquired control of the facility through the Union Mines Development Corporation to supply uranium for the Manhattan Project. The Slick Rock West mill closed in 1961, leaving radioactive tailings from mill operations. In 1995, about 671,000 cubic yards of these contaminated materials were relocated to the Slick Rock disposal site.


Shawe, Daniel R. "Uranium-Vanadium Deposits of the Slick Rock District, Colorado." USGS Professional Paper 576-F. U.S. Department of Interior, Geological Survey. 2011. Accessed July 31, 2020.

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Legacy Management. "Slick Rock, Colorado, Disposal and Processing Sites" Fact Sheet. May 2020. Accessed June 10, 2021.
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