This week, the Virginia General Assembly will take up proposed legislation to end the state’s 31-year moratorium on uranium mining permits in what is expected to be a tight vote.

Virginia’s Coles Hill Uranium Deposit Faces Crucial Vote as Russia Takes Uranium One

Proposed legislation that would end Virginia’s 31-year moratorium on uranium mining permits is set to be finalized this week. The Virginia General Assembly will take up the issue in its 2013 session in what is expected to be a tight vote. If passed, the legislation will be a monumental step toward production at the Coles Hill uranium project, which is wholly owned by Virginia Energy Resources (TSXV:VUI,OTCQX:VEGYF).

Last week, Virginia’s Coal and Energy Commission voted 11 to 2 to recommend lifting the ban, with Senator John Watkins (R-Powhatan) and Delegate Jackson Miller (R-Manassas) announcing that they will introduce legislation to establish regulatory and licensing requirements. Watkins has also proposed legislation that would impose a 3-percent tax on companies mining uranium in the state.

Senate Democratic Leader Richard Saslaw of Fairfax also announced his support for ending the ban at a news conference in Richmond that was attended by Watkins, Miller and Southside Virginia residents.

Coles Hill largest known uranium deposit in the United States

The proposed legislation to lift the ban would limit uranium mining to the Coles Hill deposit, the largest known uranium deposit in the United States and one of the top 15 largest in the world. The 3,500-acre property holds an indicated resource of an estimated 119.6 million tons with an average grade of 0.056 percent eU3O8 containing 133 million pounds of eU3O8, according to a company press release. The geology of the deposit is similar to Athabasca unconformity-style deposits and holds potential for resource expansion along strike and at depth.

An updated preliminary economic assessment (PEA) completed in June 2012 shows that the project has a capex of $147 million (including a 25-percent contingency) prior to production, alongside operating costs of $31/lb in the first 10 years and $36/lb over the expected 35-year mine life. The PEA estimates that 64.2 million pounds can be recovered at an average grade of 0.1 percent U3O8 if mill processing capacity operates at 3,000 tons per day; those conditions will result in an initial average production rate of 2 million pounds per year. Average annual revenue is projected at $140 million at a $64/lb uranium contract price. At that price, and at a discount rate of 7 percent, the net present value of the project sits at $427 million, with an internal rate of return of 36.3 percent at $64/lb uranium.

Virginia Energy’s roster of management and shareholders includes some of the most prominent names in the resource investment sector. Both Peter Grosskopf, CEO of Sprott (TSX:SII), which holds a 19.9-percent interest in the company through Sprott Resource (TSX:SCP), and Ron Hochstein, president and CEO of Denison Mines (TSX:DML,AMEX:DNN), are on its board of directors. Other shareholders include Lukas Lundin of Lundin Group and Lundin Mining (TSX:LUN), Energy Fuels (TSX:EFR) and Pinetree Capital (TSX:PNP).

Legislators to weigh economic upside with potential risks

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s Uranium Working Group is expected to release shortly a final study on uranium mining’s potential socioeconomic impact on the state; that report will no doubt factor into lawmakers’ decisions on the bill.

Supporters of ending the ban say that doing so would have a positive economic impact, pointing to a state-commissioned study by Chmura Economics & Analytics, which notes that a full-scale operation at Coles Hill could “support 1,000 jobs a year and generate nearly $5 billion in revenue for Virginia businesses over 35 years.”

Southside Virginia suffers from a high unemployment rate, and Virginia Energy has said that nearly all employees at the Coles Hill operation will come from the region. Production from the proposed Coles Hill mine would benefit the state’s energy budget as well, since nuclear power provides more than 35 percent of Virginia’s electricity supply and requires approximately 1.6 million pounds of U3O8 annually.

A diverse variety of organizations oppose the ban, including the NAACP, the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation and neighboring municipalities such as Virginia Beach. Five of the state’s legislators — including Republican Senator Frank Ruff, a member of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources committee — have submitted a letter to the General Assembly in support of the state’s ban on uranium mining.

Those in favor of keeping the ban believe the potential upsides of uranium mining do not outweigh the unknown risks to the environment and nearby communities. Environmental groups have pointed out that the state’s mining industry and regulators do not have experience mining uranium in the East Coast’s wet climate and fear the risk of tailings contaminating the region’s water supply. Virginia Energy Resources has said mining and milling at Coles Hill can be done safely and has noted that the company will store waste in below-ground containment units.

If the General Assembly votes to lift the ban on permits and create regulations for mining uranium ore, it will then be up to state, federal and county authorities, including the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors, to decide whether or not to issue permits for mining the Coles Hill deposit.

However, even the opposition is confident that mining at the project will proceed once the moratorium is lifted. Nathan Lott, executive director of the Virginia Conservation Network, a coalition of environmental groups, conceded, “[y]ou don’t create an expansive regulatory regime unless you have the intent to mine,” as per a report by Rex Springston of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

United States’ bid for energy independence at risk

Energy independence in the United States relies heavily on the nation’s ability to develop its own natural resources for domestic use. In a country that consumes 55 million pounds of uranium fuel a year, but only produces 4 million pounds, the development of significant uranium deposits like Coles Hill is all the more important.

That is especially true in light of Monday’s news that Uranium One (TSX:UUU) will now be wholly owned by Russian state-controlled miner ARMZ. Uranium One holds the Willow Creek uranium mine, which is located in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming; it produced 214,800 pounds of U3O8 in 2011 and has significant potential for expansion. On Monday, Uranium One announced that ARMZ will pay C$1.3 billion for the remaining 48.6 percent of the company not already under its control. The Russian company plans to delist Uranium One. Uranium Investing News will continue to follow both these stories as they unfold.

 

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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"We're very excited about the targets, which were verified with geochem and considered as valid drill targets. It's approximately 40 percent greater than all silver mines globally. And 140 percent greater than most silver explorers and developers in the world," shared CMC Metals CEO Kevin Brewer.

CMC Metals (TSXV:CMB,FWB:ZM5N,OTC Pink:CMCZF) CEO Kevin Brewer is excited and confident that the company's current strategy will lead to the discovery of several high-grade polymetallic deposits in the Silver Heart District in the Yukon.


CMC Metals CEO Kevin Brewer: Discovering the Next Major Silver District in the World

CMC Metals CEO Kevin Brewer shared that the company has five properties in that belt, including the flagship Silver Heart property. Since 2019, it has expanded the exploration footprint on that property by over 1,000 percent and identified eight new targets in that time.

"We're very excited about the targets, which were verified with geochem and considered as valid drill targets. It's approximately 40 percent greater than all silver mines globally. And 140 percent greater than most silver explorers and developers in the world. We know we're dealing with a very high-grade project at Silver Heart and some of our other properties in that district. We're very confident that our current strategy will lead to a discovery of not only one, but several high-grade polymetallic deposits in that district," added Brewer.

CMC Metals completed detailed mapping and sampling through a SkyTEM airborne geophysical survey earlier this year. In October 2021, the company identified high-grade polymetallic samples within the calcareous units at its proposed future exploration targets. The discovery included assays of 1,243 grams per tonne silver, 20.06 percent lead and 28 percent zinc.

"We have beautiful targets and we plan to go in and trench them first. We started putting in drill holes and started uncovering outcrops of mineralization late in the season. Overall, we've got 10,000 to 15,000 meter targets at this point. That's a lot for a small company like ours to take on, but we're going to be patient about it and we'll get there. We plan to do that," Brewer said.

Watch the full interview of CMC Metals CEO Kevin Brewer above.

Disclaimer: This interview is sponsored by CMC Metals. This interview provides information which was sourced by the Investing News Network (INN) and approved by CMC Metals in order to help investors learn more about the company. CMC Metals is a client of INN. The company's campaign fees pay for INN to create and update this interview.

INN does not provide investment advice and the information on this profile should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. INN does not endorse or recommend the business, products, services or securities of any company profiled.

The information contained here is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of securities. Readers should conduct their own research for all information publicly available concerning the company. Prior to making any investment decision, it is recommended that readers consult directly with CMC Metals and seek advice from a qualified investment advisor.

This interview may contain forward-looking statements including but not limited to comments regarding the timing and content of upcoming work programs, receipt of property titles, etc. Forward-looking statements address future events and conditions and therefore involve inherent risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from those currently anticipated in such statements. The issuer relies upon litigation protection for forward-looking statements. Investing in companies comes with uncertainties as market values can fluctuate.

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Dan Ahrens of AdvisorShares spoke to INN about his takeaways from 2021 in the cannabis investment space.

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As the year wraps up, one of the top cannabis investment experts breaks down his 2021 highlights and the expectations investors should have for 2022.

The Investing News Network (INN) sat down with Dan Ahrens, chief operating officer and portfolio manager with AdvisorShares, to get his perspective on what investors will remember about 2021 and what's next in the space.

Ahrens, an author and manager of two noteworthy cannabis public funds — the AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF (ARCA:YOLO) and the AdvisorShares Pure US Cannabis ETF (ARCA:MSOS) — is encouraged by what's ahead.


The industry has gone through a challenging period since the highs seen near the start of the year. According to Ahrens, the possibility of political changes at the federal level in the US initially built momentum. However, that anticipation has instead led to frustration over progress in the country.

Ahrens spoke candidly about the irritation he has felt watching the political path for cannabis in the US after seeing so much excitement for both Joe Biden's presidential win and a critical run-off election at the Senate that gave Democrats an edge in the government chamber.

"Cannabis started with a big run-up in January and February … and things dragged from there," Ahrens said.

As of November 23, both MSOS and YOLO had seen double-digit drops year-to-date in the stock market, with MSOS down nearly 30 percent and YOLO dipping over 16 percent.

The exchange-traded fund manager said investors need to understand that volatility in the cannabis space will continue to be present. "It can drag on for quite awhile and be very painful," he said.

Despite the challenges of the year, Ahrens is encouraged by the maturity displayed by US operators in particular, which in his view are in desperate need of federal reform to elevate into the next phase.

"There's been a big, big separation between company performance, between the actual financials, revenue growth quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year, vs. the stock price," Ahrens told INN.

Watch the full interview above to hear the rest of Ahrens' thoughts on cannabis investments and what's ahead in 2022. You can also click here to watch the rest of the videos on our YouTube channel.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Cannabis for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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