be taken into account when evaluating any particular site’s suitability for uranium mining and processing operations.
URANIUM OCCURRENCES, RESOURCES, AND MARKETS
• Of the localities in Virginia where existing exploration data indicate that there are significant uranium occurrences, predominantly in the Blue Ridge and Piedmont geological terrains, only the deposits at Coles Hill in Pittsylvania County appear to be potentially economically viable at present.
• Because of their geological characteristics, none of the known uranium occurrences in Virginia would be suitable for the in situ leaching/in situ recovery (ISL/ISR) uranium mining/processing technique.
• In 2008, uranium was produced in 20 countries; however, more than 92 percent of the world’s uranium production came from only eight countries (Kazakhstan, Canada, Australia, Namibia, Niger, Russia, Uzbekistan, and the United States).
• In general, uranium price trends since the early 1980s have closely tracked oil price trends. The Chernobyl (Ukraine) nuclear accident in 1986 did not have a significant impact on uranium prices, and it is too early to know the long-term uranium demand and price effects of the Fukushima (Japan) accident.
• Existing known identified resources of uranium, based on present-day reactor technologies and assuming that the resources are developed, are sufficient to last for more than 50 years at today’s rate of usage.
MINING, PROCESSING, AND RECLAMATION
• The choice of mining methods and processing parameters for uranium recovery depends on multiple factors that are primarily associated with the geological and geotechnical characteristics of a uranium deposit—its mineralogy and rock type, as well as a range of other factors. Additional factors that require consideration are the location and depth of the deposit, whether the location is in a positive or negative water balance situation, as well as a range of environmental and socioeconomic factors. Consequently, a final design would require extensive site-specific analysis, and accordingly it is not possible at this stage to predict what specific type of uranium mining or processing might apply to ore deposits in Virginia.1
• Uranium recovery from ores is primarily a hydrometallurgical process using chemical processes with industrial chemicals, with a lesser dependence on physical processes such as crushing and grinding.
• Mine design—whether open pit or underground—requires detailed engineering planning that would include pit and rock stability considerations, as well
1 The report notes that in situ leaching/in situ recovery (ISL/ISR) mining methods are unlikely to be applicable in Virginia because of the geological characteristics of known uranium occurrences.