EDGEMONT, S.D. — Powertech Industries Inc. (a subsidiary of Azarga Uranium) based in British Columbia, Canada, plans to move ahead at the Dewey-Burdock uranium in-situ recovery (ISR) site near Edgemont.
The company motioned the Water Management Board to hold a status conference on May 5, 2021, stating that they hope to begin the process of “re-initiate the proceedings” regarding two important water permit appropriation applications previously filed.
Azarga submitted an initial Source Materials License Application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) back in 2009, and was issued an operating license by the NRC in 2014. A large scale mine permit application was submitted to the then-DENR in October 2012. Powertech also submitted two water rights permits in June 2012, one for water from the Inyan Kara aquifer and the other for water from the Madison aquifer. The EPA announced in November 2020 that they gave their final Underground Injection Control (UIC) permits and a Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) aquifer exemption to the site.
The proposed project would use a mining process called “in situ,” in which injection wells pump groundwater fortified with oxygen and carbon dioxide into the ore deposits to dissolve uranium. Production wells are used to pump the uranium-laden fluids to the surface for recovery, where they will be processed at two separate facilities at the mine site to extract and concentrate the uranium. After uranium has been removed from a well field, the groundwater is then restored to meet NRC restoration standards.
In-situ is one of two primary extraction methods used to collect uranium. It is used to recover uranium from low-grade ores in places where other mining methods might be too costly or would cause significant environmental disruption. About 12 ISR facilities exist in the United States.
In response to the EPA’s permit issuance, opponents of the uranium mine – notably the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Black Hills Clean Water Alliance – filed an appeal to the NRC Commission related to identification and protection of historic and cultural resources.
Azarga stated in a press release that they do not expect any appeals to be granted and will continue to move ahead with the permitting process.
The Dewey Burdock Project is currently licensed but there are no active operations.