FINDINGS AND KEY CONCEPTS

The committee’s analysis of the distribution of uranium deposits in Virginia and worldwide, and uranium markets and reserves, has produced the following findings:

Uranium deposits are formed by a wide variety of geological processes and in a wide range of geological environments. 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. The resources and grades of the Coles Hill deposits appear comparable to deposits that are being mined elsewhere in the world.

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. ISL/ISR mining requires specific hydrological and geological characteristics, with porous mineral-bearing rocks enclosed by relatively impermeable surfaces.

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 worldwide, 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.



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