Friday, June 19, 2009

Uranium Mine Could Use Three Billion Gallons of Water Per Year, Part II

This is Anne Cockrell's letter to NC Representative Lucy Allen written following Anne's and Deborah Dix's appearance at the Roanoke River Basin Bi-State Commission. The figures Anne quotes re: the water that mining and milling at Coles Hill could necessitate are nothing short of staggering.

Madam Chairman, N.C. Representative Lucy Allen:

Thank you for allowing Deborah Dix and me to speak Friday at the Roanoke River Basin Bi-State Commission meeting. We, like so many others, had traveled some distance and really wanted to address the bi-state commission members.

I quoted some numbers regarding the amount of water usage in uranium mining and milling that some of the members requested to see for themselves. I am sending two online links for source information. (One is a link with a video that addresses, in general, the amount of water used in both exploratory drilling and the mining and milling of uranium. The second link is the source I cited for the numbers I gave.)

I hope that you and the other bi-state committee members will take a few minutes and watch the video and review the cited sources.

1) Down The Yellowcake Road
Considering the past "water wars" between Va and NC, will there be enough water for both while sharing it with a water-hungry industry that mines and mills uranium? Millions of gallons of water will be needed per day by the industry!

33 million liters = 8,717,677.7 gallons
(See #2 for volume used in calculations.)
If using 33 million liters per day, then 8,717,677.7 gallons of water is used per day. If the mine & mill is operating 365 days a year (8,717,677.7 x 365), then 3,181,952,360.5 gallons of water will be used each year.

Please keep in mind that the proposed time table for mining and milling uranium at Coles Hill, near Chatham, Virginia (Pittsylvania County) will be for 30 to 40 years, by Virginia Uranium Inc.'s own estimation. Water sources close to Coles Hill include the Banister and Roanoke Rivers.*

A question was asked by Mr. Gene Adesso if VUI would be using this much water** and, of course, my response was that the amount was unknown because VUI, to my knowledge, has not given out that information.

Generalizing, should Virginia's moratorium on the mining and milling of uranium be lifted, other uranium-rich areas in Virginia could be mined. Most likely, there will only be one milling facility where all the mined uranium will be trucked/railed in for processing, but with multiple mines will come multiple demands for water usage. Further, speculation has it, the Banister and/or the Roanoke Rivers would not be able to meet the water needs of a uranium milling facility. Perhaps, the Dan River would be a potential water source, too.

Whatever the water source(s), using the numbers above, the needed water volume for multiple mines and one milling facility, over a 30 to 40 year-period, would total to an astronomical number. I respectfully request the issue of water usage in uranium mining and milling be critically addressed now, should Virginia's moratorium be lifted in the future.

2) Uranium in Queensland, Briefing Paper (section 2.1.1)

Per Section 2.1.1 Water: Uranium mining uses huge quantities of water. Water is needed for separating the uranium from the ore, for dust control and for covering the radioactive sludge. Olympic Dam in South Australia pumps 33 million litres a day from the Great Artesian Basin and is licensed to use 42 m litres a day...

Because I was born a Tarheel and have lived most of my adult life in Virginia, I am asking the members of this bi-state commission to be proactive in protecting the quality and quantity of water in the waterways of both states. I truly love North Carolina and Virginia and feel blessed to have called both states "home."

Again, thank you, Madam Chairman Allen, for kindly allowing us the opportunity to briefly address the bi-state commission.

Respectfully yours,
Anne Cockrell
Danville, Virginia

Other Source Information:

*To see waterways/water supplies at risk: Go to Piedmont Environmental Council's website:, click on "Hot Issues" and then "Uranium Mining." Under "Uranium Mining Maps," go to "Water Supplies Potentially Impacted by Uranium Mining." This is an excellent website for understanding how uranium mining and milling could impact waterways in both Virginia and North Carolina.

**Wed Apr 29, 2009, NI 43-101 Technical Report for the Coles Hill Uranium Deposit: or

Section 4.3, page 15, does not illuminate the amount of expected water needs/usage (amount needed in millions of gallons/day) to run a uranium mine and mill, and it mentions nothing about the source of that water. For all its history and data verification, use of plentiful and colorful schematics, Santoy & VUI's technical report does not give specifics on water usage. [If neither of the above links open when clicked upon, google: Santoy Resources Ltd, go to its Homepage, click on "Projects" and, then, "Technical Reports" (Revised Wed. Apr 29, 2009).]

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