By Dave Brown – Exclusive to Uranium Investing News
Virginia mining and environmental officials were questioned by a committee from the National Academy of Sciences regarding the state’s ability to regulate uranium mining if a 1982 state ban is lifted. As early as September of 2009, the state of Virginia was targeted by the current administration as having great potential for producing clean power from wind and nuclear sources.
Opponents have concerns that the statements of the department heads indicate that the state does not have sufficient resources to properly oversee mining of the largest uranium deposit in the United States. Environmentalists and some local residents have opposed tapping the Pittsylvania County deposit because they are fearful the mining and milling will foul the air, rivers, streams and reservoirs with radioactive tailings scattered by torrential rains or hurricanes. Uranium mining in the U.S. has taken place in the more arid western regions like Wyoming, and this would be the first on the East Coast.
The meeting was the second all-day session held in Virginia by the panel of scientists, mining experts and environmental officials. Members are expected to complete their findings in December on the consequences of Virginia ending its ban on uranium mining.
For his part the state Governor issued a press release yesterday, “We must generate more of our electricity from our domestic resources. That means utilizing a diverse portfolio of fuels, including nuclear, coal, oil and natural gas, as well as biomass, offshore and onshore wind, and solar. At the same time we must also maintain reasonable energy costs and a reliable, consistent supply. This Administration is focused on balancing these two important considerations.”
The timing of terminating the ban comes amid a global nuclear power renaissance and a 119-million-pound deposit near the North Carolina border that Virginia Uranium Inc. wants to mine. Virginia Uranium Inc.values the Virginia ore deposit to potentially be worth $8 billion to $10 billion, and maintains the mining can be done safely, and provide hundreds of jobs in an economically depressed area of the state.
Virginia Energy Resources Inc. (TSXV:VAE), is a strategic partner in the asset and is also exploring uranium projects in Saskatchewan, Quebec and Labrador with some exposure to coal properties in Western Canada. Some of the company’s most important and active exploration projects are its uranium properties in the Otish Basin of Quebec, and its Murphy Lake and Hatchet Lake uranium properties in the Athabasca basin, which are held in a 50-50 joint venture with Denison Mines (TSX:DML).
The directors of the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the Department of Conservation and Recreation also spoke before the committee. The committee also accepted a study from Virginia Beach that concluded the water supply of the state’s largest city could be threatened if a historic storm lashed the area where the mining would occur.
The National Academy study is one of at least several looking at uranium mining. A legislative committee has approved $200,000 for a socio-economic study, and local studies are also planned or under way.
Spot market price continues to strengthen
The spot market price for uranium continues to grow higher, and is currently in the range of $73.00 per pound, up $0.75 from the end of last month. Delivery timing continues to be a significant factor in the spot uranium market, as near-term supply remains extremely thin. According to uranium market consultants Trade Tech, some active participants temporarily withdrew from the market to analyze the sharp increase in uranium prices reported in recent weeks relative to their own positions. However, by the end of the week buyers and sellers were returning to the market. Five transactions were concluded over the course of the week with the marginal difference between active buyers and willing sellers narrowing, as both sides exhibit increasing tolerance to close the gap between offers and bids in order to successfully conclude transactions.