The Bureau of Land Management seeks public comments on uranium project plan of operations
(BELLE FOURCHE, S.D.) – The Bureau of Land Management South Dakota Field Office is seeking public comments on the complete Plan of Operations (Plan) for the Dewey Burdock In-Situ Uranium Project located in Fall River and Custer counties on BLM-administered lands.
An environmental impact statement was prepared on the proposed Plan in 2014 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In the years since, the project developers have worked to secure the necessary permits to operate the mine from the NRC, the Environmental Protection Agency and the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Because the mine is located on BLM-managed lands, the agency must also approve a Plan of Operations for the project.
“Under the Trump Administration’s leadership, we’ve made it a priority to streamline review and approval of uranium and other critical minerals development projects. Doing so will create and sustain good jobs, promote U.S. technological innovation, and reduce our nation’s vulnerability to disruptions in the critical mineral supply chain,” said BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley.
The BLM is making the complete Plan of Operations available for a 30-day public comment period before issuing its final approval decision. The deadline for comments is Aug. 26.
Azarga Uranium Corp., owner of the Dewey Burdock Project, filed the Plan on approximately 13 surface acres of the BLM lands for the purpose of in-situ uranium mining. The Plan outlines the details for the company’s mining activities, from initial construction of facilities, to the mine’s closure and the final site reclamation.
Uranium is one of 35 Critical Minerals identified by the U.S. Geological Survey. These minerals include rare earth elements, as well as other metals such as lithium, indium, tellurium, gallium, and platinum group elements. They are used for things like batteries and LCD screens in computers, alloys for the aerospace and defense industries, integrated circuits and optical devices, medical imaging and research, and hundreds of other applications. Without them, the nation’s economy would grind to a halt, and the technological edge maintained by the Armed Forces and Intelligence community would erode.
Recognizing the importance of critical minerals, in 2017 President Trump issued Executive Order 13817, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals, which directed the Secretaries of Interior and Commerce to lead the development of a government-wide strategy to protect and expand access by U.S. manufacturers and suppliers to necessary critical minerals. In turn, the Secretary of the Interior issued Secretary's Order 3359 Critical Mineral Independence and Security and led development of the final critical minerals list in May 2018. A Preliminary Economic Assessment for the project foresees total production of 14.2 million pounds of uranium over 16 years, with an average annual production of one million pounds annually.
More information, relevant documents, and a location for submitting comments are available on the BLM e-Planning project website at https://eplanning.blm.gov. Search: “Dewey-Burdock Project.”
Comments may also be mailed to BLM South Dakota Field Office, Attn: Chip Kimball, 309 Bonanza Street, Belle Fourche, SD 57717.
Those who provide comments are advised that before including their address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information, they should be aware that the entire comment, --including the personally identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While those commenting can ask in their comments to withhold personal identifying information from public review, the BLM cannot guarantee that they will be able to do so.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $111 billion in economic output across the country in fiscal year 2019—more than any other agency in the Department of the Interior. These activities supported more than 498,000 jobs.