ARIZONA – U.S. Interior Secretary has decided to withdraw public lands near the Grand Canyon from new mining claims for two decades. The move was met by cheers from environmentalists and jeers from Republicans who accuse the ruling Democrats of sabotaging desperately needed jobs.
The withdrawal of the 405,000 ha will not prohibit previously approved uranium mining or new projects on sites with valid existing rights. Eleven uranium mines, including four that are already approved, could still be developed. There are as many as 30 potentially economic uranium deposits in the area affected by the ban.
Bureau of Land Management director Bob Abbey said, “The withdrawal maintains the pace of hardrock mining, particularly uranium near the Grand Canyon, but also gives the department a chance to monitor the impacts associated with the uranium mining in this area. It preserves the ability of future decision-makers to make thoughtful decisions about managing this area of national environmental and cultural significance based on the best information available.”
Denison Mines of Toronto is one of the Canadian companies that may be affected. The company produces 200,000 lb of uranium a year from its Arizona 1 mine (DenisonMines.com). Other Canadian companies exploring for uranium in Arizona are Energy Fuels, Global Met Coal Corp., Mesa Exploration, Quaterra Resources and Snowdon Resources.