RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) â¿¿ U.S. Energy Corp, which explores for metals and owns stakes in oil and gas properties, said Monday that Thompson Creek Metals Co. has decided not to buy a stake in the company's Mount Emmons molybdenum deposit in Colorado.

Molybdenum is used in strengthening steel.

Thompson Creek said it has more immediate development priorities to focus on. U.S. Energy said that it is disappointed with Thompson Creek's decision, but is committed to moving the project forward and will reach out to other potential partners.

""Looking forward, we will be reaching out to the Chinese, who have expressed an interest in the project in the past," said U.S. Energy CEO Keith Larsen. "They tend to have a longer term view regarding resource inventory."

The plan to search for molybdenum at an old mining site in Gunnison County, near the ski resort town of Crested Butte, was opposed for years by a local conservation group. The site had been mined for silver, lead and zinc, and a series of owners have been looking for molybdenum there since the 1970s. U.S. Energy said in January that it was years away from doing any mining.

Shares of U.S. Energy fell 29 cents, or 4.7 percent, to $5.83 in afternoon trading.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.