Uranium Exploration, Mining and Development
Uranium is one of the more common elements in the earth’s crust, and is about 40 times more common than silver and 500 times more common than gold. Currently, uranium mines are safely operating in over 20 countries around the world. Canada is the world’s largest exporter of uranium and has the most stringent regulations and safeguards on its use. Uranium and thorium have many positive and beneficial uses, principally in the energy sector and is critical in health care applications.
According to the Canada Nuclear Safety Commission uranium mine workers have the lowest injury rates in the Canadian mining industry and modern workers are no less healthy than the average Canadian citizen.
Although British Columbia has 196 known mineral occurrences of uranium and/or thorium, there has never been an operating uranium mine in the province. A moratorium on uranium exploration in British Columbia was introduced in 1980. The moratorium expired in 1987 and was not renewed.
On April 24, 2008 the Government of British Columbia established a regulation that ensured that any future claims do not include the rights to uranium. On the same day Government declared an effective moratorium on uranium exploration, mining and development. On March 12, 2009, the BC government issued a Cabinet order that stopped any review of proposed uranium and thorium exploration and development in the province.
Legal action has been commenced by a number of mineral claim holders seeking compensation for their loss of their ability to explore for and develop any uranium that may be within their claims. No decision has been rendered by the Court on the issue of compensation, however a number of procedural issues have been clarified. See BC Supreme Court for further details: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/SC/10/16/2010BCSC1648.htm
Uranium & Thorium Exploration Guiding Principles
AME BC recognizes that uranium and thorium are important and valuable natural resources and exploring and mining those resources are legitimate and safe activities occurring in Canada and around the world today, and into the future. AME BC members are encouraged to responsibly promote standards of excellence in uranium and thorium exploration, development and mining, including closure and reclamation.
Click here to read the AME BC Uranium & Thorium Exploration Guiding Principles.
AME BC Action
AME BC will continue to press for changes to the policy and for the rigorous application of due process and science to natural resource development in British Columbia. Since the government’s announcement AME BC has been working with decisions makers to reverse the situation and has continued to raise the issue in the media. AME BC has been supported in this effort by allied organizations such as the BC Chamber of Commerce and others.
BC’s Mineral Exploration Sector Responds to Provincial Position on Uranium and Thorium
AME BC News Release - March 23, 2009
AME BC Arguments
- Naturally occurring mineral resources are the common heritage of all British Columbians. Knowing more about what those resources are allows us to make informed choices regarding which resources to use and when.
- Uranium is safely explored for, mined and used around the world. Uranium mines are safely operating in over 20 countries around the world. In fact, Canada is the world’s largest exporter of uranium and has the most stringent regulations and safeguards on its use.
- To place a moratorium on a specific mineral resource or commodity is just an indirect way of stopping mining. Moratoriums denigrate the validity of a proper environmental assessment process.
- BC has extremely stringent EA processes (12,000 plus claims and only 20 major mines and none in the past 10 years). To deny miners the right to this process invites a legal system ruled by fear not science.
- Exploration does not always mean development. In B.C., there are over 16,000 claims, almost 1000 active mineral exploration sites versus approximately 17 active metal or coal mines.
- No major mining operation takes place in the world today without community support. Plus mine permitting currently takes seven or so years. To assume exploration means a result that harms the community fails to take into account the scientific methodologies that normally inform public policy, and unnecessarily instills fear among the public.
- Metals and minerals do not occur in isolation. A moratorium on uranium could effectively prevent other types of mining.
- According to the Canada Nuclear Safety Commission uranium mine workers have the lowest injury rates in the Canadian mining industry and modern workers are no less healthy than the average Canadian citizen.
Safety Guidelines for Uranium Mineral Exploration
Uranium exploration and mining in Canada is overseen by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission: www.cnsc.gc.ca/eng/.
Cameco and AREVA, the two uranium producers in Canada, have information for the public on their websites.