Regions Southern Virginia

Report says uranium mining would benefit region

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A new report says a proposed uranium mining and milling operation in Pittsylvania County would not affect the locality’s economic competitiveness.

The report by George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis found that the mine and mill, if fully operational, would have created a net benefit of $1.32 million for the county government, accounting for 2 percent of the county’s total revenue base, in Fiscal Year 2010. It also concluded that the operations would have generated $24 million in economic activity during the year.

Virginia Uranium Inc. is seeking to mine and mill an estimated 119-million pound uranium deposit in the county known as the Cole Hill deposits. The General Assembly is expected in 2013 to consider whether to lift a more than 30-year moratorium on uranium mining.

The fiscal impact study assumed that the mining and milling operations were fully operational. “We analyzed a business build out at full operation,” Stephen Fuller, director of the center and the lead author of the report, said during a news conference Monday at the Capitol in Richmond. “This is what you get if everything worked.”

Virginia Uranium Inc. asked the center at GMU to conduct a study on the local economic impact of mining last year, Fuller said. Instead of entering into a contract with the company, the company said it would donate $147,000 to the George Mason University Foundation. The center chose the specific scope and analyses of the study, Fuller said.

The report included four independent studies: the fiscal impact on Pittsylvania County, a housing analysis, case studies on uranium mining operations in other U.S. communities and the impact on Pittsylvania’s business climate.

The report also concluded that:

-Recent gains in the housing market and recent business developments show that the proposed mine and mill have not created a stigma for the region.

-Economic development officials from four uranium mining communities said mining had a positive impact on their communities,  and that there was no evidence that outdoor recreational activities and tourism had decreased. One negative impact cited among officials was the fluctuation of uranium prices.

-A survey from Realtors in Kingsville, Texas, found that 85 percent believe the mine there had no impact on the housing market.

The report came out the same day as the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors decided not to vote on a resolution that would have supported keeping Virginia’s moratorium on uranium mining in place, according to the Register & Bee.

The full report is available at the center’s website:
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