Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hold mining foes accountable for misinformation

Comments:  Love our friends comments:

The Editorial Boardnewsadvance.com
#1) Mr. Wales says, "The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy has repeatedly discounted their claims about economically recoverable uranium deposits dotting the entire Virginia landscape."

However, several references to the potential for deposits other than Coles Hill in Virginia exist.

"A few hundred people packed the auditorium to hear William Lassetter of the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy share the agency’s starting point in addressing regulatory gaps... Although Coles Hill is the only known uranium deposit of “commercial interest,” it’s unknown whether uranium could be developed elsewhere in the state and so regulations must be statewide in nature, he said.

As early as 2007 the prospectus for VUL says, regarding VUI (Holdco), "I...
f developed and permitted, the Coles Hill property would be the first uranium mine in the Commonwealth of Virginia. (It) will commence a regional exploration and acquisition program to acquire both now and historic uranium prospects in Pittsylvania County. (information found at by searching www.sedar.com)

In remarks to investors in February in London, Walter Coles Jr. said the company’s lead geologist is “insistent to this day that Coles Hill is the first of more major discoveries in Virginia that might lead to another Athabasca-style resource play.”

http://www.virginiaenergy.org/2010/07/15/va-tech-professor-urges-end-to-virginia-uranium-mining-moratorium/ "Lifting the moratorium on uranium mining will encourage mining companies to explore for uranium in Virginia, and this could lead to Virginia becoming the 'Saudi Arabia of nuclear fuel' and contribute significantly to Virginia’s and the nation’s economy and to national security by eliminating our foreign dependence on uranium", says Robert Bodnar, Ph.D., (University Distinguished Professor and C.C. Garvin Professor of Geochemistry in the Department of Geosciences at Virginia Tech, is an expert on the formation of mineral deposits and has supervised graduate student research at the Coles Hill uranium deposit in Pittsylvania County. He was recently recognized as Virginia’s Outstanding Scientist 2010 by Gov. Bob McDonnell and the Science Museum of Virginia.)
#2) The term "moratorium" was used in the 1985 Coal and Energy report to the General Assembly.   A simple search of "moratorium" in the Code of Virginia yields 7 hits. There are 13 hits in the Virginia Administrative Code. None deal with uranium mining. The truth of the matter is that 45.1-283 states that permit applications for uranium mining shall not be accepted by any agency of the Commonwealth prior to July 1, 1984, and until a program for permitting uranium mining is established by statute. It appears there is neither a ban or a moratorium...there are simply no regulations. Without regulations, there will be no uranium mining which is why VUI and Virginia Energy Resources are hell-bent on having them drafted.  

If Wales prefers the term moratorium, as in "Keep the Moratorium", it works for me. However, a less controversial and more direct mantra is, "No Uranium Mining in Virginia".

Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2013 6:00 am

Hold mining foes accountable for misinformation

The Editorial Boardnewsadvance.com
By Patrick M. Wales

  Over the last several years our company has gone to extraordinary lengths to openly and honestly demonstrate how we will conduct the safest uranium mining and milling operation in the world right here in Virginia.
  In a sincere attempt to hear and address the concerns of our community, we have met with hundreds of environmental groups, farmers, civic leagues, business groups and state and local officials. We have honestly answered every question that’s been raised, and we have taken concrete and meaningful steps to address the concerns expressed and incorporate the thoughtful suggestions we’ve received.

Yet at every turn, hardcore mining opponents have rejected our attempts to address their concerns and have attacked our honesty and sincerity whenever we attempt to provide truthful answers to their questions.

Our company’s positions have never been disputed by independent media sources, scientific experts or government officials. To the contrary, it has been uranium mining opponents’ claims that have been discounted time and again by independent sources, from the left-leaning Washington Post and Brookings Institution to the more conservative Richmond Times-Dispatch and Heritage Foundation.
First and foremost is our opponents’ consistent misrepresentation of the moratorium itself and what lifting the moratorium would accomplish.

Our opponents have embraced the mantra "Keep the Ban," even though they know full well Virginia never banned uranium mining. As legislators from the time have made clear, the moratorium was intended as a temporary measure in the early 1980s to allow thorough study of the issue and only remained in place by default due to unfavorable economic conditions at the time.

During a public forum, I once pressed the leader of a statewide environmental organization to explain why his organization continued to mislead the public about the intent of the moratorium. His candid response: "‘Keep the Ban’ fit nicely on a bumper sticker."

As our opponents know, lifting the moratorium would not allow uranium mining at Coles Hill; it would merely authorize state regulators to draft rigorous rules that would govern the permitting process and perhaps the eventual operation of a uranium mine. If, and only if, our company demonstrates that we can operate within these strict standards will we be allowed to mine at Coles Hill.

But mining opponents’ disregard for the facts doesn’t end there.

The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy has repeatedly discounted their claims about economically recoverable uranium deposits dotting the entire Virginia landscape.

Researchers at George Mason University rejected their claims about so-called "stigma effects" associated with uranium mining.

In a Richmond Times-Dispatch OpEd in September 2012, a member of the National Academy of Sciences study panel, Dr. Corby Anderson, lamented that mining opponents’ mischaracterization of its 2011 study had led to a "less informed public debate than was intended."

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Our company has sought, and will continue to seek, a more productive dialogue.

When residents in Southside and Hampton Roads expressed concerns about the potential for mill tailings to adversely affect their drinking water, we addressed their concerns head-on. In July 2012, we committed to storing all mill tailings in engineered, double-lined, below-ground tailings management facilities that would isolate the tailings from storms and floods, and prevent them from impacting groundwater.

We did so because the National Academy of Sciences concluded that this is the safest method available and eliminates risks to groundwater and downstream rivers and lakes.

But instead of accepting our commitment, mining opponents ignored it and continued to claim that we planned to store tailings in above-ground impoundments.

So we went one step further and supported legislation in January 2013 that would have required us to store all tailings below ground.

And again, instead of celebrating this important environmental protection, mining opponents vigorously opposed the legislation and claimed that the bill didn’t even include such a requirement.

In spite of dramatic improvements in technology, regulations and environmental protections since the 1970s, mining opponents are stuck on primitive technologies, lax regulations and poor environmental standards not used since the 1950s and 1960s.

Our company is held to a high standard for open and honest communication with the public, and we’ve consistently lived up to that standard. Our opponents have not. It’s time they were more responsible with the facts and held accountable for their deliberate and consistent use of misinformation.
Wales, of Danville, is project manager for Virginia Uranium Inc.