Some things just need to be said...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Uranium mining to have glowing future in BC?

The Campbell Liberal government will have to do something they don't like, say no to a mining company!

Two companies , Sparton Resources and Santoy Resources have an agreement with the owner the Uranium claim "Blizzard deposit" near Beaverdell. They announced on Tuesday they intend to extract 4,500 tonnes of the fuel.

There has been no mining of Uranium in BC for years. In the late 1970's a Uranium mine looked likely, just 50 km south of Kelowna near Beverdell. The project was never allowed to move on due to substantial local objections that led then Premier and local MLA Bill Bennett to impose a seven year moritorium on mining Uranium.

That moritorium has long since expired and with Uranium fetching over $64 US per kilo, a price that is more than double the average price of $29 US per kilo over the last 5 years. Demand is up due to the expansion of the Chinese industrial and manufacturing boom. When the ban in BC was implemented, Uranium had been selling for over $88 US per kilo.

Uranium deposits in the East Okanagan (South east of Kelowna) include Haynes Lake 082ENW051) with indicated reserves of 2 million tonnes of 0.017 per cent uranium, and Hydraulic Lake (082ENW053) with measured reserves of 2.06 million tonnes of 0.031 per cent uranium. On the westside in the Summerland are, the Prairie Flats (082ENW073) deposit has measured reserves of 629,000 tonnes grading 0.033 per cent uranium.

Uranium mining can contaminate the air, water and earth with radioactive chemicals and heavy metals which can never be properly cleaned up. There is also a radiation hazard, mining is also associated with poisonous process chemicals, heavy metals and the use of huge quantities of water. EarthCare, an Okanagan Environmental non-profit group points out...
"In the short term, uranium mine sites wreck the ecology of the local region; in the long term, they pose a risk to a much broader area."

EarthCare is encouraging people to write their MLAs asking that the moritorium on Uranium mining be brought back. Letters should be sent to your local MLA and to the two BC Ministers that have a role to play, the Hon. Barry Penner, Minister of the Environment and the Hon. Richard Neufeld, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.

Peter Chataway, a local representive of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility told the Kelowna Daily Courier...
"From an environmental and health point of view, that deposit should never be taken out of the ground. 130 organizations in B.C. have previously expressed opposition to uranium mining, saying it poses specific health threats to miners and more general threats to the environment. The chamber of commerce, the resort industries, the city of Kelowna, the churches, the unions, the environmental groups, everybody has in the past expressed opposition to uranium mining and exploration in British Columbia." (a copy of the Courier article is posted on the EarthCare website.)

Santoy Resources and Sparton Resources stated they intend to extract 4,500 tonnes of the fuel. That drew this response ...
"...a ban on uranium mining should be reinstated. Mining carries risks for people who do the work and to the environment. It's not speculative, it's a very real danger." ~ Karen Wristen of the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation told the Kelowna Daily Courier.

The newly re-elected Campbell government have a bent to side with mining interests. This issue was way too hot in 1980 for then Premier Bill Bennett, of course being the local MLA likely made it harder. BC's top Boy Scout and Minister of Environment Barry Penner will have to step up to this plate and likely crash head on with the red meat faction of the BC Liberal cabinet that includes Richard Neufeld, the Minister responsible for mining.

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