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Uranium Mine Proposed near Big White

Sparton Mining plans to devolop BC's largest known source of Uranium now that prices are high and Bennett's Uranium Mining Moratorium has expired.
Uranium Mine Proposed near Big White

Proposed site just south of Big White

By PAUL WILLCOCKS Special to The Daily Courier

June 14, 2005

A new uranium mining project in the Okanagan is set to revive a fierce environmental battle in B.C. Sparton Resources and Santoy Resources have bought the Blizzard uranium claims near Beaverdell, about 50 kilometres southeast of Kelowna, and plan to extract some 4,500 tonnes of the fuel, a spokesman said Tuesday

Uranium mining in B.C. has been dead since 1980, when Bill Bennett's Socred government imposed a seven-year moratorium, citing health risks. Although the moratorium lapsed more almost 20 years ago, no companies have attempted to go ahead

But rising prices, fuelled in part by demand in China, have sparked new interest in B.C. deposits

Nick Sayce, a spokesman for Sparton, said he doesn't know how quickly the project could go ahead. Sayce said the mining process would actually reduce uranium contamination at the site

"The parties concerned are very hopeful that it can get a fair hearing," Sayce said from Toronto

The Blizzard deposit is by far the largest in the province. A consortium including Norcen Energy and Ontario Hydro had announced plans for a mine when the moratorium was imposed. Sparton and Santoy plan to employ "low environmental impact, in-situ solution mining," the companies said in a release. The method is the most widely used system in uranium mines today. A liquid is pumped through the deposits, leaching out uranium, which is then extracted

The companies are paying $450,000 in cash, plus shares, to acquire the claim. They are also committing to a $1.5-million development program

But they face some tough hurdles. Karen Wristen of the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation says a ban on uranium mining should be reinstated

Mining carries risks for people who do the work and to the environment, she said. "It's not speculative," Wristen said. "It's a very real danger." Green party Leader Adriane Carr also supports a ban. "British Columbians, justifiably worried about the deadly effects of uranium on their health and the health of their environment, fought hard in the past to stop uranium mining," she said. "They'll mobilize to fight again." Government officials weren't available to comment. Uranium mining is booming around the world, fuelled by prices that have almost tripled in the last three years

Australia and Canada are the leading producers, with Saskatchewan home to the world's largest mine.




Katrine Conroy, MLA
West Kootenay Boundary
Ph: 1-888-755-0556 (250) 304-2783
Fx:  (250) 304-2655


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