October 07, 2007
The value of the Pittsylvania uranium is estimated at $10 billion. For a sense of scale that's roughly one third of the entire market cap of Dominion Resources. A background article by Star-Tribune Editor Tim Davis portrays Virginia Uranium as a company run by Virginians with deep commitments to the community, its safety and its heritage. Davis also explains what happened with Marline Corp and the Pittsylvania County uranium deposits.
Marline announced its uranium discovery in 1982 and formed a partnership with Union Carbide to mine and mill the Coles Hill deposit.
A year later, Virginia established the Uranium Administration Group to design a framework for permitting uranium mining.
The Virginia Coal and Energy Commission concluded that uranium mining could proceed if certain recommendations were enacted into law in 1984.
However, stiff opposition, mainly from environmental groups, slowed the project, and eventually led to a moratorium.
Several years later, a sharp drop in the price of uranium - from $40 a pound when the discovery was made to $9 a pound - forced Marline to suspend the project.
When the price didn't rebound, the company abandoned the project altogether in 1989 and the mineral rights returned to Coles and Bowen.
According to Reynolds, Marline and Union Carbide spent about $42 million on the Coles Hill project.
The article gives up a bit more, listing some members of the board of directors of Virginia Uranium. Among them is Greg Beard. Beard is a managing director for Carlyle Group (Carlyle/ Riverstone). He sits on the board of directors of the following companies, all in Carlyle's energy and power portfolio:
CDM Resource Management
Legend Natural Gas II
Legend Natural Gas III
Phoenix Exploration Co.
Vantage Energy LLC
Carlyle's online bio of Greg Beard holds back on two of his directorships: Vantage Energy and Virginia Uranium. But the SEC filings for Carlyle's CDM are required to cite both of these positions. From Carlyle's page on Vantage:
Vantage Energy, LLC is a natural gas exploration, acquisition and development company with a focus in unconventional resources throughout onshore regions of the United States.
The TSX Venture Exchange is a Canadian stock exchange. While the TSX deals mostly with senior equities, the TSX Venture Exchange is a public venture capital marketplace for emerging and/or junior companies who have not yet met the requirements for listing on the TSX. A little digging shows that the members of Virginia Uranium's board who are most familiar with the global shell games (and takeovers) and wide market cycles in the mineral markets are hardly stakeholders when it comes to preserving the health and well-being of the region. Two Canadian venture investors also sit on Virginia Uranium's board: geologist/ prospector Ron Netolivsky and Peter Grosskopf.