Uranium requests go before state Friday

The State of Colorado Board of Land Commissioners are scheduled to make a decision Friday on a request for three uranium mining lease applications in Moffat County.

The applications, filed by Energy Metals Corporation USA, are standard procedure, said Jeff Comstock, natural resources manager for the county.

"All energy markets are up," Comstock said. "As commodities go up, the trend across the U.S. is an increased interest by prospecting companies in exploration on state and federal lands."

Comstock said approving an application doesn't mean the land will ever see a mine, or that it will undergo testing for uranium deposits.

In August 2005, Standard Uranium Inc. was granted leases for four sites in Moffat County that have yet to see any activity.

Commissioners Darryl Steele and Tom Gray said the board of county commissioners has not discussed uranium mining because the subject has never come before the commissioners.

Comstock said the county only becomes involved if a company decides to mine the land, at which time it would need to apply to the commissioners for a conditional use permit to change from agricultural to mining-industrial zoning.

"It takes huge amounts of permits and public input before mining operations would be approved," Comstock said. "The quantities and purity of uranium from foreign countries is superior to what we have here. That's why the former Maybell uranium mining operations are not up and running."

He said permits are required from the state and county, as well as the federal Environmental Protection Agency, before any mining operations can begin.

The leases applied for encompass 1.36 acres of land in Moffat County.

Steele said last year the commissioners heard from the public on a proposed uranium dumpsite near the town of Maybell, but that mining for uranium is a "totally different thing."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.