Opponents of proposed uranium mine near Edgemont said Friday that Powertech needs to publicly release information on a detailed geological survey that they say could show threats to local aquifers if the project is approved.
“The public, the parties and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have a most basic right to know what the company knows," Lilias Jarding of Black Hills Clean Water Alliance said in a written statement. "And the fact that the company is balking at producing this information — and that the information became available directly after the license was issued — is highly suspicious.”
Powertech President Dick Clement said Friday the information was "insignificant" in terms of how the uranium process at the proposed Dewey-Burdock uranium mine would actually work.
The demands by the Clean Water Alliance to see the survey comes as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to hold hearings later this month in South Dakota.
Public comments will be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 18 at a Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearing at Mueller Civic Center in Hot Springs. Another hearing will be held at starting 11 a.m. on Aug. 19 at the Alex Johnson Hotel in Rapid City and continue through Aug. 21.
The first hearing for state permits for the project, which have yet to be issued, was in September 2013.
The project, which would be about 15 miles northwest of Edgemont, would employ in-situ mining, where the company would inject oxygenated water into the ground to absorb uranium. The water would then be pumped back to the surface, where uranium would be extracted and processed.
The mine, which would sit within an 11,000-acre site, is projected to recover 1 million pounds of uranium annually for eight years. If successful, the mine could be kept in service longer and extended across the border into Wyoming, where Powertech also holds uranium claims.
Mining opponents have a host of objections to the mine, saying it could pollute or drain the region's aquifers.
The mine's proponents point to the dozens of jobs it would create, as well as tax revenue for the state.