Hearing on uranium mine in South Dakota delayed

November 7, 2013

The South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment postponed a second Rapid City, SD permit hearing for Powertech Uranium Corp.'s application for a large-scale mine permit at its Dewey-Burdock Mine near Edgemont, SD. The first hearing was held Sept. 23-27. The second was set for Nov. 11-15.

The Associated Press reported that an order issued by Rex Hagg, hearing chairman, said the board will not reschedule the state hearing until the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have ruled on the project and established financial surety. The state Water Management Board also must first allocate water rights, he wrote.

Hagg, a Rapid City attorney, wrote in his order that state law allows the minerals board to grant a permit only if the project complies with "all applicable local, state, and federal laws," so the other agencies must act first.

"Powertech may expect that the BME will act timely upon receipt of such decisions," Hagg wrote in his four-page order.

Powertech project manager Mark Hollenbeck, of Edgemont, said he was disappointed in the delay and believes the board could have proceeded. But it does mean that when the minerals hearing resumes, the only main issue will be how the company will reclaim the land.

He said reclamation would be minimal because the mine will use in-situ recovery, which involves pumping water fortified with oxygen and carbon dioxide into underground ore deposits to dissolve the uranium. The water is then pumped back to the surface, and the uranium is extracted and sold to nuclear power plants.

Besides uranium, Powertech also wants to mine for vanadium, a strong metal resistant to shock and corrosion that's used in car parts, jet engines and cutting tools.

Powertech has a corporate office in Vancouver, British Columbia, and operations Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico, as well as the Dewey Burdock project in South Dakota.

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