The company is currently in the process of obtaining an exploration permit from the Texas Railroad Commission. The results of the test drillings, if the permit is issued, will determine UEC’s long-term plans for the area.
UEC has applied for this permit for a 10,000-acre area surrounding the 1,500-acre lease. This does not mean that the company is allowed to drill anywhere within those 10,000 acres.
In order to drill or mine uranium anywhere, any company must have a lease agreement with the respective landowner. The 10,000 acres UEC has applied for provide that landowners within those boundaries have the option to lease their land to the company.
“We don’t have the right to drill on anyone’s property until they sign a lease with us,” said Harry Anthony, chief operating officer for UEC.
According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the company has submitted an application for a Class III Underground Injection Control Well Permit for an area totaling 1,467 acres. This permit, if approved, will allow UEC to drill and operate Class III injection wells for the recovery of uranium.
All areas within the permit boundary that are being mined must be encircled by a ring of monitor wells, and all of those must be at least 100 feet inside the permit boundary.
Part of the exploratory drilling process is determining baseline values for the metals found in the groundwater at each site. When UEC has finished mining uranium at a particular location, they are required to perform aquifer restoration by pumping out the water and treating it so that it returns to the baseline values.
Anthony and other UEC personnel have been meeting with community officials in recent months to announce their plans, explain the process and answer questions.
“Uranium Energy Corporation is excited about our future plans for Bee County. We’ve been meeting with elected officials and community leaders over the past two months and are looking forward to a positive relationship with Bee County residents,” Anthony said.
Joe Montez, executive director for the Bee Development Authority, said he thought uranium mining would probably be positive for the county.
“I would support something that creates jobs in the community, increases the tax base and creates more money for the schools,” Montez said.
“As far as the pros and cons of the mining itself, I can’t say, but if the industry does exist in Bee County, I can see the benefit of the creation of revenue from such an industry,” he continued.
If UEC is granted the exploration permit, that process will probably take about a year. Once completed, the company must then apply for additional permits from TCEQ related specifically to mining. Taking all of these steps into consideration, the company expects to begin mining uranium in four to five years.
Uranium Energy Corp (UEC) is a publicly traded exploration and development company based in Corpus Christi. It currently has operations throughout South Texas and in Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah.
The company uses uranium mining operations known as “in-situ” recovery (ISR), which is a non-invasive, more environmentally friendly mining process than the open pit mining once used to extract uranium from underground sources.
Sarah Taylor is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or email@example.com.