General Requirements of the Uranium Exploration Statute
Chapter 21 of Title 45.1 of the Code of Virginia authorizes DMME to administer the uranium exploration permitting program. DMME’s Division of Mineral Mining administers and enforces the uranium exploration program.
Uranium exploration is defined in the Code of Virginia as the drilling of test holes or stratigraphic or core holes to a depth in excess of fifty feet for the purpose of determining the location, quantity, or quality of uranium ore. Permit applications must be submitted with a $250 fee and a bond in the amount determined by DMME. The permit is issued for one year and may be renewed on an annual basis.
DMME has received only one application for a permit for uranium exploration by Virginia Uranium, Inc. (VUI). The draft application was initially received in October 2007 and was accepted as complete and the permit issued in November 2007. Exploration activities commenced on December 14, 2007, and the last drill hole was completely backfilled with cement on July 24, 2008. See the permit »
Applicants are also required to submit an accurate map showing the location of the proposed exploration activity; the courses and distances of such activity from two permanent points or landmarks on the tract; the approximate location areas in which test holes or core or stratigraphic holes may be drilled; the name of the owner; and boundaries and acreage of the tract on which the exploration activity is to take place.
The application for a uranium exploration permit also requires the identification of all surface water resources on or adjacent to the property, together with measurements of the background pH for those waterways. In addition,
The Code of Virginia also sets out the requirements for the plugging of the exploration drill holes. Within forty-five days after the abandonment of a drill hole, the permittee is required to notify DMME that such exploration hole has been plugged and abandoned, giving the location of such hole. The permittee shall submit an affidavit which sets forth the time and manner in which the hole was plugged and filled. The Code of Virginia requires all exploration holes to be adequately plugged with cement from the bottom of the hole upward to a point three feet below plow depth. The remainder of the hole between the top of the plug and the surface is required to be filled with cuttings or nontoxic material. Each exploration hole is required to be plugged as soon as reasonably practical after drilling. These requirements are necessary to protect water quality.
State law also allows for exploration holes to be converted to water wells, provided established drinking water standards are met. DMME is authorized to inspect any area that has been permitted for exploration activity and may issue civil penalties for any violations of statutory or permit conditions. Finally, DMME must hold confidential all logs, surveys, plats and reports filed by those engaged in uranium exploration for a period of two years after the completion of the exploratory activities. Such request shall be granted by DMME if the requesting party certifies that he considers all such information to be of a proprietary nature relating to his competitive rights. This confidentiality may be extended in 2 year intervals upon request by the permittee.