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The legal concerns expressed herein revolve around three issues: 1) whether the activities <br />proposed are properly considered "prospecting" under the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Act <br />(MLRA), C.R.S. §§ 34-32-101, et seq.; 2) how the proposed activities relate to the requirements in <br />the MLRA that prospective in situ leach uranium mining applicants submit and confer with the <br />DRMS on a detailed plan for establishing a thorough baseline characterization of site conditions, <br />enacted via HB 08-1161 as C.R.S. 34-32-112.5(5).; and 3) whether the Request for Modification <br />contains sufficient information for the Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety (DRMS) to assess <br />the impacts of the proposed activities with respect to soil and ground water impacts. <br />1. The proposed activities are not "prospecting" activities under the MLRA. <br />The Mined Land Reclamation Act specifically differentiates between "prospecting" <br />activities and "development" activities. Under the Act: <br />"Prospecting" means the act of searching for or investigating a mineral deposit. <br />"Prospecting" includes, but is not limited to, sinking shafts, tunneling, drilling core <br />and bore holes and digging pits or cuts and other works for the purpose of extracting <br />samples prior to commencement of development or extraction operations, and the <br />building of roads, access ways, and other facilities related to such work. <br />C.R.S. § 34-32-102 (12). Whereas, <br />"Development" means the work performed in relation to a deposit, following the <br />prospecting required to prove minerals are in existence in commercial quantities but <br />prior to production activities, aimed at, but not limited to, preparing the site for <br />mining, defining further the ore deposit by drilling or other means, conducting pilot <br />plant operations, constructing roads or ancillary facilities, and other related activities. <br />C.R.S. § 34-32-102(4). <br />Here, Powertech is proposing to conduct hydrogeologic aquifer testing, which is <br />equivalent to a trial run of the groundwater pumping process Powertech has announced it <br />intends to use for its in situ leach operation. Powertech states in its Request for Modification, <br />at 1, that its proposed activities are designed "to determine hydrogeologic properties of <br />sedimentary rock units that host uranium mineralization as well as adjacent rock units." This <br />activity cannot reasonably be considered "the act of searching for or investigating a mineral <br />deposit." Rather, the work is focused on the hydrogeology of sedimentary rock units both <br />where mineralization exists and adjacent rock units. Nor is this work "for the purpose of <br />extracting [mineral deposit] samples." Rather, the testing proposed by Powertech is <br />development work, "aimed at, but not limited to, preparing the site for mining, defining the <br />ore deposit by drilling or other means, conducting pilot plant operations ... and other related <br />activities. " <br />Thus, the activities proposed are not related to searching for a mineral deposit. Al. best, <br />the currently proposed activities are aimed at establishing baseline site characteristics, which <br />as discussed in detail below are subject to prior conference and approval of the DRMS. ][n <br />2