Just One More South Dakota Item, Please?

By January 18, 2007Energy

Following up on the flurry of South Dakota news from last week, we note this report from the Black Hills, which may play a role in the U.S. revival of nuclear power.

Uranium exploration could begin anew in the southwestern Black Hills, and a uranium mining technique new to South Dakota could make its debut.

Environmental groups oppose both developments, which are a response to rekindled interest in nuclear power and a boom in uranium exploration in Western states.

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources will hold hearings on the two issues today and Thursday in Pierre.

Powertech Uranium Corp., based in Vancouver, British Columbia, has applied for a permit to drill 155 exploratory holes northwest of Edgemont, in the Dewey-Burdock area.

In an excellent review of nuclear energy’s worldwide prospects, Der Spiegel takes note of the uranium-mining boom in Australia.

The explanation for [the Australian] government’s enthusiasm for nuclear power can be found in a report by nuclear physicist and former IT manager Ziggy Switkowski. As if on cue, he enthuses about the need for more nuclear power plants: Australia must start building reactors so that the first one can be completed in 2020. If a concerted effort is made, another 25 could be online by mid-century. On the one hand, this would help the country improve its poor record of carbon dioxide emissions. On the other, it would allow Australia to tap an almost inexhaustible source of energy; the country possesses more than 38 percent of the world’s accessible uranium reserves.

For more on global uranium resources, please see these remarks by Yuri Sokolov, IAEA Deputy Director General, Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy. He notes, ” By 2010, new mines are expected in Australia, Canada, Kazakhstan, Brazil, India and other countries. They would add around 30 000 tU of annual production capacity, about a 60% increase over today’s capacity.”

Hope we can count the United States among the “other countries” he mentions. A nuclear renaissance with its associated mining could spur much-needed economic growth and diversification in western states like South Dakota — and power generation needed by a growing U.S. manufacturing economy.

(Hat tip: NEI Nuclear Notes blog.)