As the Virginia political world waits for a key study on uranium to be released in the coming days, the company that wants to mine 119 million pounds of the mineral in Southside lobbies lawmakers.
Already, 38 delegates and senators have visited Coles Hill, near Chatham, a small town in Pittsylvania County. That list includes Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax). A handful of others went to France and Canada to see uranium mines.
Sen. John Watkins (R-Chesterfield) said if the study indicates that uranium can be mined safely he will introduce a bill to lift the moratorium during the 60-day legislative session that starts in January.
The state’s Coal and Energy Commission asked the National Academy of Sciences and the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research at Virginia Tech to review whether the uranium can be safely mined.
Two uranium deposits were found three decades ago in Coles Hill. They begin at the ground’s surface, under land used to raise cattle, hay and timber, and run about 1,500 feet deep.
The company said tests indicate that about 119 million pounds of uranium - worth as much as $10 billion - are below the surface. That would be enough to supply all the country’s nuclear power plants for about two years or all of Virginia’s demands for 75 years.