Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Uranium's promise of economic prosperity rings hollow

Chatham Star-Tribune
Wednesday, July 1, 2009 9:41 AM EDT

Bringing uranium mining to Pittsylvania County, according to what we are told, will mean economic prosperity for our area beyond the wildest dreams of local economic development personnel.

According to the United States Energy Information Administration, there is one operating uranium mill for conventionally-mined ore in the United States.

Denison Mines Corporation operates the sole active mill, being White Mesa. Early in May, 2009, Denison announced White Mesa was being put on standby and would not process any more conventional uranium ore for the rest of the year 2009.

The president and chief operating officer of Denison Mines Corporation, Ron Hochstein, stated Denison had filled all of its contracts for uranium for 2009 and that the market price of uranium, known as the spot price, was lower than the cost of processing conventional uranium ore. (The spot price went up a whole 50 cents last week!)

The first quarter 2009 financial report for Denison Mines Corporation shows a net loss of $1.3 million and the annual financial statement for 2008 shows a loss of $80.6 million.

Ron Hochstein is also chairman of the board of directors of Santoy Resources Ltd, which, according to announcements, is the Canadian firm in the process of merging with the Coles Hill company, Virginia Uranium, Ltd. (Do look at the financial statements of Santoy, posted on its Internet corporate site.)

The United States and Russia currently have a policy of converting uranium from dismantled uranium bombs, etc., into nuclear fuel rods to keep the uranium out of the hands of terrorists, which reduces the market for mined uranium ore.

The U. S. company handling this project is USEC Inc., and the vice president of marketing and sales is John M. A. Donelson.

Whether or not this is the same person who wrote by that name a recent glowing letter to the Star-Tribune in support for uranium mining at Coles Hill, I do not know.

There are 35 states in the United States which have nuclear generated electricity, producing a total of 806,181,935 megawatt hours in 2008. This was a bit less than the 2007 figure.

There are applications for 20 additional nuclear plants, with the application status being "under review."

One might wonder how many, if any, of those will be built for years, if ever, in the currrent state of financing even with the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Considering all of these factors, one might be justified in wondering just how many jobs over how long a period each year will result in Pittsylvania County from uranium mining and milling.

(The White Mesa Mill has been in operation since about 1980, including the period under another corporate name, and only has contracts sufficient for operation for four months out of 12?)

Hildred C. Shelton


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