Thursday, April 30, 2009

Subcomittee set to hear final recommendation for uranium study

By John Crane

Published: April 30, 2009

The Virginia Coal and Energy Commission’s Uranium Mining Subcommittee will hear a final recommendation later this month on the scope of a study to determine whether uranium can be mined and milled safely in the commonwealth.

The meeting will include public comment and will be held at 2:30 p.m. May 21 in House Room D in the General Assembly Building in Richmond.

Virginia Uranium Inc. seeks to mine and mill a 119-million-pound uranium ore deposit at Coles Hill about six miles northeast of Chatham.

Virginia has a moratorium on uranium mining and milling. If the study finds it can be done safely in the state, the General Assembly would have to vote whether to lift the moratorium.

Michael Karmis, director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Coal and Energy Research, will present his final recommendation on the study’s scope May 21, said David Bovenizer, spokesman for Del. Lee Ware, chair of the Uranium Mining Subcommittee. Karmis’s recommendation will include input from the National Academy of Science.

In March, the subcommittee unanimously approved a draft of the study’s first phase outlining the technical and scientific aspects of the analysis Karmis said would take about 18 months. The technical half of the study will look at global, national and state supply/demand trends and projections, as well as costs and market aspects.

Study topics also will include uranium mining and milling technologies, local groundwater and surface-water monitoring, mine-site monitoring, and post-mining land use and monitoring.

However, the second portion of the study, which would address the socioeconomic aspects of uranium mining and milling, were not decided at the March meeting.

Bovenizer said the subcommittee hopes to receive Karmis’s recommendation and post it on the VCEC’s Web site between May 4 and May 7.

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