Second lawsuit challenges Virginia uranium ban

26 November 2015

A group led by Virginia Uranium Inc yesterday filed a second lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Virginia's moratorium on uranium mining. A lawsuit filed by the same plaintiffs earlier this year is still ongoing.

The latest challenge has been filed in the Circuit Court of Wise County by Washington law firm Cooper & Kirk, on behalf of plaintiffs Virginia Uranium, Coles Hill LLC, Bowen Minerals LLC and Virginia Energy Resources Inc. They ask the court either to order the Commonwealth of Virginia to permit the plaintiffs to exercise their right, under Virginia's constitution, to mine the uranium situated on their property, or to provide compensation.

Charles Cooper of Cooper & Kirk said the plaintiffs were entitled to an order invalidating the state's ban on uranium mining or "at minimum" an award of compensation for the "full value" of the mineral reserve. The mineral reserve beneath Coles Hill, in southern Virginia's Pittsylvania county, is worth $6 billion, Virginia Energy Resources said.

"Substantial sums of money have been invested by the plaintiffs in their effort to develop the valuable deposit of uranium beneath their land. Virginia's ban, however, amounts to an absolute bar to mining uranium, preventing the plaintiffs even from taking the basic step of applying for a mining permit. This is a clear, unconstitutional taking of the plaintiffs' private property," Cooper said.

The Coles Hill uranium deposit, first discovered in 1978, contains measured resources of 3260 tU and indicated resources of 42,800 tU. Virginia Uranium Inc was granted an exploration permit in 2007.

Walter Coles, president and CEO of Virginia Uranium Inc, said that his company had worked "exhaustively" to satisfy the concerns of the public as well as of elected officials, state legislators and other public officials. "We have made clear that we intend to construct and operate the safest and most modern uranium mining operation in the world. However, the decision by state-elected officials to preserve a ban that prohibits us even from applying for a permit to mine uranium has forced us to turn to the courts for remedy," he said.

The same plaintiffs filed a lawsuit with Virginia's federal court in August, requesting that the 33-year-old ban on the development of uranium mining regulations in the state be declared null and void on the grounds that it is invalid under federal law.

The latest lawsuit relies on the declaration under Virginia's constitution that the right to private property is fundamental, that private property can be taken only for public and not private use, and that the Commonwealth must provide just compensation for the full value of the property taken.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News