Posted: Jan 31, 2013 2:03 AM EST Updated: Jan 31, 2013 2:03 AM EST

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A Senate bill that would clear the way for uranium mining in Virginia is getting critical committee hearing at the Capitol.

By all indications, Sen. John Watkins' legislation faces a rough reception Thursday before the Senate agriculture committee. Opponents and some members of the committee say a strong majority opposes the legislation.

A companion bill has been filed in the House of Delegates, but it has yet to get a hearing.

A large crowd is expected to jam into a hearing room for Watkins' bill, which would effectively end a decades-old prohibition on uranium mining in the state.

The issue has been pushed by a company that wants to mine the largest known uranium deposit in the U.S. It is located in Pittsylvania County.