Durango Telegraph - Digging in the dirt: BLM opens mine expansion to public comment
Digging in the dirt: BLM opens mine expansion to public comment

Digging in the dirt

BLM opens mine expansion to public comment

The Durango public has another opportunity to weigh-in on Southwest Colorado’s ongoing uranium boom. The Bureau of Land Management is currently accepting comments on a plan to expand an existing mine in the Gypsum Valley north of Dove Creek.

The Denison Mines Corp. has proposed an expansion of existing operations at the Topaz Mine, which is located next to four of its other operations – the Sunday, West Sunday, Carnation and St. Jude mines. All five of these uranium producers are tapping the Uravan Belt, which was the country’s leading producer of uranium in the 20th century. Denison recently acquired the entire mining complex and is conducting activities at all mines as a single operation. The company has proposed expanding the waste rock area and adding three new vent holes at the Topaz Mine. Another seven new vent holes have been planned for the entire complex, along with several new roads and 13 acres of surface disturbance.

Formerly the International Uranium Co., Denison Mines also owns the White Mesa Mill in Blanding, Utah. The mill can enrich up to 2,000 tons of ore per day and is currently the only conventional uranium mill operating in the United States.

However, the Sierra Club has charged that the mill is poorly equipped, contaminated and leaking radioactive waste. High loads of radioactive toxins have been found in the groundwater surrounding the mill. Denison counters that the contamination is the result of “natural causes.” Public comments on the Topaz Mine expansion will be accepted through Sept. 8 and can be emailed to CO_San_Juan_Resources@blm.gov.

– Will Sands

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