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Thread: Mining in Utah

  1. #1
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    No good Mining in Utah

    Is there any info. on uranium mining operations resuming in Moab? Any truth to this story. May well affect Albuquerque as well.
    Last edited by Mtn. Biker123; 01-24-2006 at 09:13 AM.

  2. #2
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    I don't know about new mining, but I did here a while ago that the big pile of radioactive tailings just north of town was finally going to get cleaned up.

    I hope the clean-up happens, not the new mining.

    Slow and steady gets you...7th place.


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    Here is the Info.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkan
    I don't know about new mining, but I did here a while ago that the big pile of radioactive tailings just north of town was finally going to get cleaned up.

    I hope the clean-up happens, not the new mining.
    Beware of Uranium Mining in the Desert SW
    By Patrick O'Driscoll, USA TODAY Fri Jan 20, 7:18 AM ET

    Half a century after the Cold War triggered a rush here to mine uranium for atom bombs, a new generation of prospectors is staking thousands of claims in the desert Southwest. (Related: Copper mining revived)
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    Sparking the surge is a peacetime demand for more fuel for nuclear power plants worldwide.

    The Four Corners region where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet was once the hub of uranium mining in the USA. Now it is a haven for extreme adventure sports.

    For more than a decade, mountain bikers, all-terrain vehicle riders, rock climbers, river rafters and other off-road tourists have staked claims to the red-rock canyons and mesas that surround Moab. Some even use desert roads built decades ago so uranium ore could be hauled from the mines to nearby mills.

    The prospect of new mines and mills to produce and refine the radioactive mineral has stirred fears of more damage to the environment, health risks and disruption of the bustling tourist economy that took over after the mines closed in the 1980s.

    "We are very concerned. Our economy's changed now," says Joette Langianese of Moab, a Grand County Council member. "We need to look at this whole potential for a uranium boom again ... so that we're not just repeating our past mistakes."

    Moab today is a world-renowned mecca for fat-tire bikes and Jeep safaris. Up to 80% of the town's budget comes from sales taxes, paid largely by 1.5 million visitors a year.

    Test holes being drilled

    "Our economy now is based on tourism and people who come here with other jobs because of the quality of life," says Bill Hedden, executive director of the Grand Canyon Trust, a conservation group that fought for removal of uranium waste from Moab's mining boom.

    Mike Shumway of Moab, whose father and grandfather mined uranium, is staking claims and reopening mines. "The area right here in Moab won't be affected," says Shumway, who has built motels and owns a bed-and-breakfast. "So the mountain bikers are going to have to pass the ore truck on the road out here? Well, they're going to have to learn how to get along."

    As many as 30 test holes will be drilled this month 40 miles southeast of here in Lisbon Valley, near the original 1952 strike by "uranium king" Charlie Steen that put Moab on the map. Steen's son, Mark, is guiding the search.

    "When I was growing up, my dad said, 'The rest of the ore body is over there, across the Lisbon Fault, down deep,' " says Mark Steen, 55, of Longmont, Colo., who has staked about 4,000 claims since 2003.

    Steen says mining will take off here when the price for uranium increases enough, which he predicts will happen within five years. Uranium at its peak in 1979 sold for $43 a pound. "It's got to get to about $110 to equal that," he says. If it does, "Brace yourself, Moab," Steen says. "I can't wait for those miners and drillers to start rubbing shoulders with those Lycra-clad bicyclists."

    The price for uranium processed into "yellowcake" has ballooned 500% in the past five years to $36.50 a pound.

    The Utah Geological Survey says more than 6,000 uranium claims were filed last year.

    Prospectors "stake" claims by pounding corner posts around 20-acre tracts that are scattered across thousands of square miles of federal land in the region. They file a map and a $170 fee for each claim.

    Neighboring Colorado has up to 3,000 new claims in the past year. "Not all of those will turn into anything, but there's a lot of activity," says Tracy Plessinger of the U.S. Energy Department, which manages 25,000 acres of federal land set aside during the Cold War for uranium exploration.

    In Arizona, at least 700 more claims were filed on remote federal lands near the Grand Canyon. International Uranium, which owns one of only two working uranium mills in the USA, might reopen four old mines there. The company aims to stockpile enough ore to begin processing this year at its White Mesa mill in Blanding, Utah, about 80 miles south of here, says president Ron Hochstein.

    In New Mexico, another Canadian firm, Energy Metals, has acquired 16 mining leases west of Albuquerque in an area that produced almost 340 million pounds of uranium in the 20th century.

    Whether this renewed interest in uranium leads to production is still in question. Only one company, Denver-based Cotter Corp., has dug any new ore so far - and it suspended operations in November because of high fuel prices to truck the ore 300 miles to its mill in Cañon City, Colo.

    Dealing with uranium waste

    The uranium revival comes as Moab prepares to remove an unwanted leftover of its past: A 130-acre pile of radioactive waste on the north edge of town. The 12 million tons of mill tailings, left by the bankrupt owner of the defunct plant that processed the ore, has leaked uranium and other toxins into groundwater and killed fish in the Colorado River.

    Railcars will begin hauling away Moab's uranium waste in November 2007.

    The 10-year federal cleanup could cost $400 million.

    "It's folly to start pursuing (uranium) development when we still have the tailings to clean up and move," says Bob Lippman, a town councilman in Castle Valley, about 20 miles northeast of Moab. "We still have people dying of lung cancers from the last uranium boom."

    Steve Erickson of the Citizens Education Project, a Utah advocacy group on social and economic issues, decries what uranium boosters are calling a "nuclear renaissance."

    "We have to have it done better this time around," he says. "Don't kill the miners, and don't leave behind the messes after you're done."

    Long gone from Moab are signs that once welcomed visitors to "the Uranium Center of America," but other traces remain. The "Uranium Building," a 1950s office, still stands. The Slick Rock Café offers a half-pound "uranium burger" laced with bits of garlic and blue cheese to resemble ore.

    And the town museum is sprucing up its old uranium exhibit. Dessert for this month's annual dinner features "yellow cake."

    Uranium "is just part of our history," says Rusty Salmon, director of the museum. "It's a part of the personality of the town, whether we want to admit it anymore. And we survived it. Other towns didn't. We've moved on into a tourist industry."

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