Calgary company delays Utah oilsands project, lays off most staff

Calgary-based US Oil Sands says it has laid off employees at a controversial mining project in Utah until a new financing deal is struck with its largest shareholder.

US Oil Sands waiting to close $7.5M financing deal

US Oil Sands says its PR Spring project requires additional capital to cover commissioning and startup costs. (US Oil Sands)

A Canadian company is delaying the startup of its oilsands mining operation in eastern Utah, about a four-and-a-half-hour drive southeast of Salt Lake City.

The Calgary-based US Oil Sands announced it has laid off both Canadian and U.S.-based employees until a new financing deal is struck with its largest shareholder.

Company CEO Cameron Todd says the layoffs and project delay at the PR Spring mine are a cost-cutting move until it closes a $7.5 million arrangement with ACMO.

The Deseret News reports the junior oilsands firm did not specify how many employees are impacted.

Todd characterized the layoffs on Tuesday as temporary and the delay as "slight" until the funding package is in place to complete 35 deferred steps out of a 996-step commissioning plan at the mine.

The $100-million project would be the nation's first commercial-scale oilsands mining operation.

Last year, dozens of protesters disrupted work on the project, citing concerns about the impact on Colorado River.

The US Oil Sands project is tiny compared with those operating in northern Alberta.

With a capital cost of $60 million, US Oil Sands is aiming to produce 2,000 barrels in its first phase. 

US Oil Sands is planning to extract oil from its mine with a biodegradable solvent made from citrus fruit.

The technology means there's no need for tailings ponds, the large wastewater pools that have been a major focal point of environmental campaigns against Alberta's oilsands.