UEC issued a press release on September 29 stating that, “the company’s Goliad In-Situ Recovery (ISR) Project in South Texas has made a major advance toward becoming permitted for production.” The Goliad ISR Project is one area where UEC could mine raw product to feed into the Hobson Facility.
The positive press for UEC came from the International Business Times, which identified UEC’s work as one of the best uranium plays in the country. The Goliad community has expressed concerns with UEC’s mining efforts in their area, but UEC says it’s going to be full steam ahead with its Hobson facility before the end of the year.
“I feel really positive about our company and our growth,” UEC Manager of Texas Operations Bob Underdown said. “We will be probably in late November or early December producing. That will be coming out of the Palangana project south of Freer. That project is slated to start on or before November 1.”
UEC does not mine uranium in Karnes County as happened in the past, but uses its Hobson Facility to produce the yellowcake product that powers many nuclear power facilities. All the recent press comes after an ongoing effort in the Goliad community to show that there is no danger of contamination to the water supply.
Back in May, geology professor Philip Bennett asserted that groundwater contamination is not an issue, saying that the aquifers that surround uranium deposits are not fit for consumption by humans or animals. In June, a federal judge dismissed Goliad County’s lawsuit, saying he has no jurisdiction to hear the case.
Earlier this month, the judge recommended UEC submit more data, specifically a 24-hour pump test at the site. Goliad County has made it clear that they plan on continuing their efforts to fight the effort, and attorney Jim Blackburn was not convinced the recent hearings produced the same conclusions that UEC touted in its recent release.
“The starting point is groundwater,” Blackburn said. “Goliad County would not be involved in this dispute were it not for concern whether groundwater would be contaminated. This is unlike a number of situations with mines further south in Texas. They are really out in the brush country where there are no homes in the area. There are literally homes scattered all around this uranium site.
“It is certainly the aquifer is used for drinking water purposes nearby. That is the primary basis for concern. We have been told all along that our fears are baseless and UEC has everything under control. That proved to not be the case. In the hearing there is a fault zone that runs through the site called the Northwest Fault. During the course of the hearing I think there was some confusion about if that fault had been tested. It was tested by UEC and the TCEQ (Texas Commission for Environmental Quality) witness testified, and he said he had not seen that data, until he was shown in it in the hearing. It had not been formally submitted to TCEQ.
“He said when he evaluated the data the fault is leaking. If the fault is leaking it will have tremendous impacts to mining the site. It would have tremendous impact on the feasibility for the current plan. What the judge said was that coming out the hearing he felt he didn’t have enough information. My interpretation is Goliad County should have won because the applicant has the burden of proof. They told us they had everything they needed to have; they didn’t. If you go with the interpretation on the record, the TCEQ’s own words, it’s leaking. Ten years ago, this would have come back with a recommendation of denial. We’re in a little different era now.”
TCEQ did not return phone calls last week seeking comment. Goliad County will continue to seek avenues to fight the inception of the Goliad ISR Project, however, UEC a said it will do what is necessary to move the project forward.
“We look forward to submitting any additional data that is needed and to completing this phase of the permitting process,” CEO Harry Anthony said in a press release. “The Company is confident that the permits will be approved at the end of this process.”
One person who is a fan of UEC’s current projects is International Business Times blogger Bryon King. In an October 5 article, King said, “My absolute immediate favorite play is Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSE.A:UEC). That’s because UEC has managed to resurrect the uranium-solution mining industry in the great state of Texas. It’s re-established the uranium production industry that, literally, collapsed in a matter of months back in the mid-1980s. Companies like Westinghouse Electric Company LLC, U.S. Steel Corp. (NYSE:X) and Union Carbide Corporation shutdown, took their exploration and production materials and stuck them in warehouses.
Underdown said the company will take a steady long-term approach to expansion and will continue to look for ways to “feed the beast,” the term his company uses for getting raw product into the Hobson Facility.
“The Palangana project (south of Freer) is a fully permitted and licensed facility,” he said. “We are looking on all fronts to expand the company.”