Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575
Virginia Uranium: Mining push is on hold
Sunday, December 15, 2013
By BULLETIN AND AP REPORTS -
Virginia Uranium Inc. is suspending efforts to get a statewide ban on mining the radioactive ore lifted, citing Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe’s opposition.
The company wants to mine a 119-million-pound deposit — thought to be one of the world’s largest uranium deposits — at Coles Hill, near Chatham in Pittsylvania County.
Virginia Uranium said it will not support the introduction of uranium mining legislation in the 2014 session of the General Assembly, which starts Jan. 8. That would be the first step toward getting the ban repealed.
But the company is not totally giving up. Patrick Wales, its project manager, said it is “in this for the long haul and are committed to developing the Coles Hill project.”
McAuliffe, a Democrat, said before he was elected on Nov. 5, and has since confirmed, that he does not favor lifting the ban.
Del. Don Merricks, R-Pittsylvania County, did not seek re-election so he will not be in the General Assembly when it reconvenes.
However, Merricks said Saturday, “it’s definitely going to be a better session (for the lawmakers) without having to deal with uranium” because it has become a controversial issue.
Supporters of lifting the ban say mining uranium at Coles Hill could lead to an economic boon in Southside. Opponents say mining would be too risky from a health and safety perspective.
According to Merricks, McAuliffe has said he would veto any legislation calling for lifting the ban.
So pursuing lifting the ban would be “a useless thing (for Virginia Uranium) to do if you know your bill is going to be vetoed,” the delegate said.
The 2013 effort to lift the ban never made it out of a General Assembly committee, according to reports.
Merricks said that prices for uranium have dropped, and he speculated that also may have had something to do with Virginia Uranium’s decision.
Del. Danny Marshall, R-Danville, has opposed lifting the ban. He could not be reached for comment Saturday night.
Chatham lawyer Les Adams, also is a Republican, was elected to succeed Merricks. Adams also has said he opposes lifting the ban.