Virginia Uranium opens office in Chatham
A company that wants to mine uranium in Pittsylvania County officially opened an office on Main Street in Chatham, the county seat.
Virginia Uranium Inc. owns property in the Coles Hill area outside Chatham that contains an estimated uranium ore deposit of 119 million pounds. The company has lobbied the Virginia General Assembly for the past two years to limit a more than 30-year-old moratorium on uranium mining in the commonwealth.
In a statement, Walter Coles Sr., the president and CEO of Virginia Uranium, described the new office at 6 N. Main St. in Chatham as an outreach effort toward the local community.
“We know the people in this community are eager for economic opportunity, but we also know that many still have questions, and they want straight answers from our company,” Coles said in the statement. “We invite every member of the community to come visit us at our office and ask the tough questions. We think it’s important to be open and transparent and reassure the community that our operation will be the safest uranium mine in the world.”
A 2011 study by Richmond-based Chmura Economics & Analytics projected that mining milling operations in Pittsylvania would directly and indirectly create 1,000 jobs and have a net positive economic impact of $135 million a year.
Opponents of lifting the moratorium have raised concerns about how mining could affect property values, drinking water and public health.
Opponents also worry about how uranium mining could change the public image of the area, particularly Chatham. The town is home to two private schools, Chatham Hall and Hargrave Military Academy, whose enrollment largely depend on boarding students from other states and overseas.