A group of state employees studying how the nation’s largest known uranium deposit could be mined will ask for public input Monday night at the first of four meetings.
A multi-agency group — created by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and composed of staff from the state’s Department of Health, Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy — is studying the site of a uranium deposit found three decades ago in Coles Hill, near Chatham, a small town in Pittsylvania County, near the southern corner of the state.
The group is drafting regulations to mine the material, worth an estimated $10 billion, which would require lifting a three-decade ban on uranium mining.
It is the world’s seventh-largest known deposit — enough to supply all U.S. nuclear power plants for about two years or satisfy Virginia’s demands for 75 years.
Virginia Uranium, a company that wants to mine the site, had lobbied aggressively to lift a three-decade-old ban on uranium mining this year, flying legislators to France and Canada to visit mines and donating to their campaigns. But McDonnell recommended in January that the state further study the impact of excavating the site before the General Assembly considers lifting the moratorium.
As part of that process, a state’s working group will accept public comments during four open meetings — in June, August, October and November — and on a Web site.
Monday’s meeting takes place at 6 p.m. at Chatham High School, 100 Chatham Cavalier Circle, Chatham.