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DENR Receives Powertech Applications for Uranium In Situ Leach Mining

For Immediate Release: Friday, October 12, 2012

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Kim Smith, 773-3153


DENR Receives Powertech Applications for Uranium In Situ Leach Mining


PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is reviewing state applications from Powertech (USA), Inc. for proposed uranium in situ leach mining in southwestern South Dakota.


Powertech has submitted four applications to DENR. The applications are for a large-scale mine permit, ground water discharge plan, and two water right permits.


DENR’s uranium in situ mine and underground injection control Class III rules were tolled by the South Dakota Legislature in 2011. This means DENR’s recommendation on the large scale mine permit will not address many of the technical issues related to in situ operations and no Class III permit application is required at the state level. These state rules were tolled by the Legislature primarily because they duplicate federal requirements that have not been delegated to DENR. Therefore, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has jurisdiction over the operation under its source material licensing process, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency has jurisdiction over underground injection control Class III wells.


Powertech seeks a proposed uranium in situ leach mine and processing facility about 13 miles northwest of Edgemont. The proposed mining area encompasses about 10,580 acres. Most of the acres are private land in Custer and Fall River counties. About 240 acres of Bureau of Land Management land are included in the permit boundary.


Powertech estimates production will be 1 million pounds of uranium oxide per year for 20 years.


“Given the time it will take to determine that the applications are complete, time to conduct technical reviews of the completed applications, and the public comment periods, it will likely be sometime next spring before the Powertech applications are heard before the state boards,” said DENR Secretary Steve Pirner.


Powertech submitted a large-scale mine permit application Oct. 1. Powertech will use injection wells to pump ground water fortified with oxygen and carbon dioxide into the ore deposits to dissolve uranium. Production wells will be used to pump the uranium-laden fluids to the surface for recovery. The fluids from the production wells will be processed at the mine site to extract and concentrate the uranium. After uranium has been removed, the ground water will be restored to meet water quality standards. Wastewater generated by the operation will be treated and disposed by either injection wells permitted through an Environmental Protection Agency underground injection control permit or by land application through a DENR Ground Water Discharge Plan. For more information about the large-scale mine permit application, visit http://denr.sd.gov/des/mm/powertechminepermitapp.aspx.


Powertech submitted a Ground Water Discharge Plan application on March 9 for the land application of treated wastewater. The plan is to ensure ground water resources are protected by closely monitoring and evaluating surface discharges to ground water from land applying treated wastewater. The plan also establishes remediation requirements should an exceedance occur. For more information about the Ground Water Discharge Plan application, visit http://denr.sd.gov/des/gw/Powertech/Powertech_GW_Discharge_Permit.aspx.


Powertech submitted two applications on June 12 for Water Right permits. One application is for water from the Inyan Kara aquifer and the other is for water from the Madison aquifer. Water from the Inyan Kara aquifer will be used to extract uranium ore using an in situ recovery process. Water from the Madison aquifer will be used for aquifer restoration and may also be used for facility operations and to supply domestic and livestock water to local ranchers. For more information about the two water right permit applications, visit http://denr.sd.gov/des/wr/ptech.aspx.



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