With the demand for uranium increasing worldwide Virginia is considering the implications of lifting a 1982 ban on uranium mining in the state.
A 12 month study to assess the state wide consequences of lifting the ban will be conducted by a 13 member study team whose conclusions are due in December 2011.
The study will begin this week as the National Academy of Sciences panel convenes for two days in Washington D.C. The proposal of lifting the ban has met with considerable opposition from local residents who are worried that the mining and milling of uranium ore will pollute adjacent local farm fields and streams.
The renewed interest in nuclear power in the U.S. has made Virginia Uranium Inc. propose mining a 119 million pound deposit in Southside Virginia near the North Carolina border. As per company estimates the value of the uranium in the deposit could be between $7 to 10 billion.
The General Assembly deliberations will be influenced by the study results. Members of the study team will hear from officials from the Department of Energy on the national and global uranium market. From the U.S. Geological Survey on Virginia uranium deposits and various aspects of mining and milling and the Environmental Protection Agency, on regulatory matters before it makes its recommendations.