Study indicates uranium milling would have annual $135 million impact

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The mining and milling operations of Virginia Uranium Inc. would provide an annual economic benefit of $135 million and create 1,000 direct and related jobs in Southern Virginia, according to a study released Wednesday.

Richmond-based Chmura Economics & Analytics completed the study for the Virginia Coal and Energy Commission to evaluate the socioeconomic impact of a mining and milling operation in Southern Virginia. Virginia Uranium Inc. is seeking to lift a moratorium on uranium mining that has been in place for 30 years. The company wants to mine the largest known deposit of uranium in the U.S.

“In the opinion of Chmura, the mining and milling operations would bring substantial and much needed economic benefits to Pittsylvania County, the immediately surrounding areas, and the state,”  the report states.

The net benefit is determined by subtracting suggested socioeconomic costs, such as to public health and the environment, which Chmura said it anticipates would be minimal.
Chmura predicts that during a three-year construction period, the operation would create 323 jobs in Virginia. The study predicts that during a 35-year operational phase, the site would support 1,052 jobs, including direct jobs, indirect and induced. The site would produce an estimated $3.1 million in state and local taxes, the study predicts.

Chmura’s evaluation took into consideration four environmental scenarios: a negligible environmental impact, a moderate environmental impact with contamination within federal guidelines (the baseline guideline used for the study), a significant impact on qualities of air, noise and soil, and a severe environmental impact that included contamination of water. In the fourth scenario, the study says the negative consequences would outweigh the positives, but Chmura believes the baseline guideline is the most likely.

“Chmura makes no determination as to the likelihood for each of these scenarios, save noting Chmura believes that based on the extensive federal regulations within which VUI must operate, some advances in technology, and others reasons expressed and other reasons expressed in the report that the baseline scenario is more likely to occur than other scenarios,” the study says.

The study determined there would be minimal consequences to perception of the area and real estate values. It did determine that real estate owners within a five-mile radius of the site would likely see a 5 percent decline in real estate values.

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