Vanadium metal a part of Black Hills uranium mine proposal
RAPID CITY (AP) — A company that wants to mine for uranium in southwestern South Dakota also plans to harvest a metal used in car parts, jet engines and cutting tools.
Powertech Uranium Corp. wants to mine for vanadium, which is used in steel alloys to form a strong metal that is resistant to shock and corrosion. Powertech Project Manager Mark Hollenbeck revealed the plan Tuesday during the second day of a weeklong public hearing in Rapid City, the Rapid City Journal reported.
The state Board of Minerals and Environment is conducting the hearing to determine whether it should issue a permit for the proposed mine about 15 miles northwest of Edgemont. Supporters say it would bring jobs to the Edgemont area and tax revenue to the region and state, while opponents worry about possible harm to the environment.
The proposed mine would use a method known as in-situ recovery, which involves pumping water fortified with oxygen and carbon dioxide into underground ore deposits to dissolve the uranium. The water is then pumped back to the surface, and the uranium is extracted and sold to nuclear power plants.
Powertech plans to inject wastewater underground, rather than spraying it across surface land, Powertech attorney Max Main said during the hearing Tuesday. Company officials say the mining method is safe and will not pollute groundwater.
The permit hearing on Tuesday shifted from testimony by the public to a more formal hearing resembling a courtroom trial, with opponents including the Clean Water Alliance and the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.
The hearing has largely been civil but there have been a few tense moments. A member of the public brought a gun to the hearing on Monday, prompting hearing chairman Rex Hagg to ban firearms at the proceedings. On Tuesday, a state Highway Patrol trooper escorted a mining opponent from the podium. The opponent, who did not identify himself, was not allowed to speak because public testimony ended Monday.