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Mining rules get overhaul Print

By Monte Whaley
Denver Post
May 27, 2009

A planned Weld uranium mine is of special interest as the talks start today.

Colorado today begins rewriting rules governing mining activity in the state, a process being watched closely by opponents and supporters of a plan for uranium extraction near the small town of Nunn in Weld County.

Stakeholders called together by the state Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety will meet today to discuss the rulemaking process called for by the 2008 legislature.

Lawmakers were responding to worries that uranium mining would lead to environmental problems, especially at the proposed Centennial "in-situ" leach uranium mine in Weld County.

Before the stakeholders convene this afternoon, 1,500 letters collected by Clean Water Action during a door-to-door campaign in March and April will be delivered to Gov. Bill Ritter.

The letters describe concerns over Powertech Uranium Corp.'s plan for the Centennial operation. The Canadian company has been drilling test holes and will apply for a mining permit this summer.

Several governmental entities in Larimer and Weld County have said they are worried uranium mining will contaminate groundwater and lead to other environmental woes.

But Powertech officials have said the in-situ process — in which treated water is used to flush ore from the ground through boreholes — is safer environmentally than other processes.

The draft rules require more public disclosure of uranium prospecting. They also tighten controls on in-situ mining, requiring companies to do baseline water-quality studies and restoring the aquifer to that level or one set by the state Department of Public Health and Environment.

"Hopefully, the rules will relieve some of the concerns people have had," Powertech's chief executive Richard Clement Jr. told The Denver Post in July.

The Mined Land Reclamation Board will formalize the new rules over the next two months and then offer them up for public comment later this year.

"I hope the governor makes sure the rulemaking process protects the citizens and protects Fort Collins," said Katie Sloan, a community organizer for CWA.

Monte Whaley: 720-929-0907 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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