New Uranium Mining Projects - Arizona, USA
(last updated 6 May 2014)
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Liberty Star breccia pipes mine project in northern Arizona
Liberty Star Uranium and Metals Corporation is investigating the potential of mining and milling uranium from breccia pipes in northern Arizona.
Breccia pipes are thought to have formed at the intersections of fractures, where hydrothermal solutions forced their way, sometimes explosively, toward the surface. Some breccia pipes are very clearly the result of solution collapse of limestone or other soluble rock types, and may not have any connection with hydrothermal systems.
Liberty Star intends to mine in a manner that causes minimal land disturbances, and operations would be camouflaged so visual impacts are minimized. A mill would be established reasonably close to the pipes, and tailings from the site would be entombed in the breccia pipes as they are being mined. Liberty Star believes that entombing the tailings would cause minimal environmental impacts because they would be isolated from weather, and groundwater occurs 1500 feet below the bottom of the mine zone.
(NRC June 9, 2008: Meeting Report, Liberty Star Uranium and Metals Corporation, April 28, 2008, ADAMS Acc. No. ML081570272 ) [emphasis added]
Uranium exploration at the Grand Canyon
Court denies mining company payout for loss of expected profits over Grand Canyon uranium mining ban
A federal court says a company's arguments that it lost out on up to $123 million in uranium mining revenue in northern Arizona are premature.
Vane Minerals LLC filed the complaint after the U.S. Department of Interior instituted a 20-year ban on new mining claims around the Grand Canyon.
(Arizona Daily Star May 5, 2014)
Company sues Interior Department over Grand Canyon uranium mining ban
Vane Minerals Plc challenged a 20-year ban on new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, arguing in a lawsuit that the decision was based on political positions rather than scientific evidence.
The case is Vane Minerals LLC v. U.S. Department of the Interior, 13-cv-00413, U.S. Court of Federal Claims (Washington).
(Bloomberg June 24, 2013)
Judge once again upholds Interior Department's authority to ban new uranium mining claims near Grand Canyon
A moratorium on uranium mining in the greater Grand Canyon region withstood another test this week, as U.S. District Judge David Campbell denied a uranium industry motion to reconsider his previous ruling to let the temporary ban stand.
Mining interests could still go to a federal appeals court, but for now, the withdrawal enacted last year by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will stand.
(Summit Voice May 16, 2013)
Judge upholds Interior Department's authority to ban new uranium mining claims near Grand Canyon
A judge has upheld the Interior Department's authority to ban new hard rock mining claims on federal land.
Mining advocacy groups are suing the federal government over the ban and asked a judge to declare the act unconstitutional.
Wednesday's (Mar. 20) decision by U.S. District Judge David Campbell clears the way for other claims on environmental and economic impacts to be heard.
(Arizona Republic Mar. 20, 2013)
Counties join industry in lawsuit against uranium mining ban near Grand Canyon
Mohave County (Arizona) has teamed with mining company Quaterra Alaska Inc. , and filed a lawsuit Monday (Apr. 16) in federal court in an effort to reverse a federal 20-year closure of one million acres of uranium-rich lands in northern Mohave County. The duo is requesting that the federal government stand down - and release the lands.
The lawsuit has been assigned to U.S. Senior District Judge Paul Rosenblatt, of U.S. District Court of Arizona, based in Phoenix.
(Today's News-Herald Apr. 18, 2012)
(Case Title: Quaterra Alaska Incorporated, et al v. Salazar, et al, Case Number: CV12-8075-PCT-PGR, Date Filed: 04/17/2012)
Washington County (Utah) officials agreed Tuesday (May 1) to join a lawsuit against the federal government's decision banning new uranium mining on Arizona Strip public land.
The County Commission unanimously approved the resolution to join the Mohave County, Ariz., lawsuit.
Washington County Commissioner Jim Eardley said Garfield County, Kane County and San Juan County also have said they will join the lawsuit.
(The Spectrum May 2, 2012)
The San Juan County (Utah) Commission unanimously adopted a resolution to participate as a joint plaintiff in a lawsuit being brought against the federal government due to their attempt to close the Arizona Strip to multiple use and uranium removal.
(San Juan Record May 9, 2012)
Industry sues to end uranium mining ban near Grand Canyon
The Nuclear Energy Institute and the National Mining Association said they sued the U.S. to reverse a ban on new uranium mining on federal land around the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
The two organizations, representing mining and nuclear power companies, today asked a federal court in Arizona to reverse a U.S. Interior Department ban, announced Jan. 9, on new hard-rock mining claims on about 1 million acres (405,000 hectares) of land, according to an e-mailed statement. The lawsuit couldn't be independently confirmed from court records.
Richard Myers, vice president for policy development with the nuclear power group, said in the statement that the proposed land withdrawal was designed to protect against circumstances that no longer exist. The land involved isn't within the Grand Canyon or the buffer zone protecting the national park, according to the statement.
"Contrary to the assertions by the administration, today's environmental laws ensure that ore extraction and production at uranium mines have minimal environmental impact on the surrounding land, water and wildlife," Myers said.
The case is National Mining Association v. Salazar, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona.
(Bloomberg Feb. 27, 2012)
(Case Title: National Mining Association, et al. v. Salazar, et al.,
Case Number: CV12-8038-PCT-GMS, Date Filed: 02/27/2012)
Interior Secretary signs Grand Canyon Mining Ban
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar formally signed a 20-year moratorium on new uranium and other hard rock mining claims on a million acres of federal lands around the Grand Canyon on Monday (Jan. 9), saying it was a "serious and necessary step" to preserve the mile-deep canyon and the river that runs through it.
The move, which has been opposed by the mining industry and a majority of Republican politicians in Arizona, comes after more than two years of study. It reverses a decision by the George W. Bush administration to allow new leasing in the buffer zone around the canyon.
(The New York Times, Jan. 9, 2012)
Department of Interior extends uranium mining ban at Grand Canyon National Park, issues final EIS
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Wednesday (Oct. 26) that his agency favors a 20-year ban on any new uranium mining on federal lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon National Park.
That decision is contained in a final environmental impact statement and will extend a moratorium put into effect in 2009.
(Deseret News Oct. 26, 2011)
> View BLM release Oct. 26, 2011
> Federal Register: October 27, 2011 (Volume 76, Number 208) p. 66747-66748 (download full text )
> Download Final EIS, Oct. 26, 2011
Arizona businesses launch campaign supporting Grand Canyon mining moratorium
Small businesses across Arizona are urging Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to follow through on a proposed 20-year moratorium on new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. A letter to Salazar signed by dozens of Arizona business associations, and postcards signed by more than 200 small businesses, support protecting the canyon area as a way to help preserve thousands of tourism-related jobs.
Paul Hedger, president of the Arizona Association of Bed and Breakfast Inns, says uranium mining poses too great a risk from potential air and water pollution.
(Public News Service Sep. 27, 2011)
Group releases report on negative impacts of proposed uranium mining near Grand Canyon
Environmentalists are speaking out about an Arizona congressman's efforts to open up mining near the Grand Canyon. The group Environment Arizona released a report titled "Grand Canyon at Risk."
It outlines potential negative effects of uranium mining around the national park.
(MyFox Phoenix Aug. 4, 2011)
> View Environment Arizona release Aug. 4, 2011 and download report
Appropriations bill throws future of Grand Canyon mining ban into doubt
A House subcommittee Thursday (July 7) voted to nullify the Interior Department's recently extended ban on new mining claims on more than 1 million acres of federal land around the Grand Canyon.
The move came in the form of a rider, added to the 2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, that would cancel the six-month moratorium announced just over two weeks ago. The rider would also reserve authority to declare any future bans for Congress.
The ban remains in effect until the bill becomes law, and supporters of the ban said they will fight to keep that from happening.
(MSNBC Jul. 8, 2011)
Temporary ban extended on new mining claims near Grand Canyon
The Interior Department has extended a temporary ban on the filing of new mining claims near the Grand Canyon with an eye toward protecting 1 million acres and giving the federal government more time to study the economic and environmental effects of mining.
The department has been analyzing whether to prohibit new mining claims on up to 1 million acres near the park, or allow the mining industry to add to the thousands of claims already staked in the area. A temporary ban enacted in July 2009 was set to expire next month but will now last until December.
(AP Jun. 20, 2011)
BLM's EIS report on uranium mining in the Grand Canyon area ripped by conservation groups and Coconino County board
Local conservation groups and the Coconino County Board of Supervisors have found what they call "serious" flaws in a federal analysis weighing the risks and benefits of uranium mining here.
The Coconino County Board of Supervisors , Sierra Club , Center for Biological Diversity , Grand Canyon Wildlands Council and Grand Canyon Trust are all questioning estimates that mining in northern Arizona could employ hundreds directly and thousands indirectly -- saying those figures appear greatly inflated.
These groups all support putting federal land bordering the Grand Canyon off-limits to new uranium mines for 20 years.
It's a scenario that would allow perhaps 11 existing mines to open instead of 30 and end new exploration rather than permitting more than 700 sites to be explored.
These questions have growing significance this summer because a 2-year-old moratorium on new uranium mining issued by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar expires in mid-July, opening the door for mining exploration to resume across about 1 million acres.
An Interior spokeswoman said she did not know when Salazar might make a decision on the issue.
(Arizona Daily Sun, May 15, 2011)
> Download Grand Canyon Trust, Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council and Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter comments on Grand Canyon uranium mining DEIS , May 4, 2011 (640k PDF)
> View Grand Canyon uranium mining video
Pew report maps 10 national treasures including the Grand Canyon threatened by mining claims
As the Obama administration considers whether to put federal land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park off limits to future mining claims, a report by the Pew Environment Group shows many national parks and landmarks are in jeopardy due to a dramatic increase in gold, uranium and other hardrock claims. The report calls on the Obama administration to use its power to protect these sites and work with Congress to modernize the 1872 mining law that still governs hardrock mining on public lands in the West.
> View Pew release Apr. 14, 2011
> View Photo Gallery: 10 Treasures Under Threat
> Download report: Ten Treasures at Stake: New Claims and an Old Law Put Parks and Forests at Risk , April 2011 (3.7M PDF)
Arizona DEQ issues permits for three uranium mines in proposed withdrawal area near Grand Canyon
State regulators have issued some of the permits that would be needed to open three more uranium mines (EZ, Pinenut and Canyon) in northern Arizona -- two north of the Grand Canyon, and one near Valle, south of Tusayan.
This comes as the Interior Department weighs whether to put about 1 million acres of federal land on either side of the Grand Canyon off-limits to new mining.
The new mines are on federal lands in the withdrawal area, but whether they would be grandfathered and allowed in the event of a withdrawal is in dispute.
If opened, these additional mines would make four in northern Arizona, all operated by international company Denison Mines, with ore to be processed in southeastern Utah.
But the Center for Biological Diversity, the Grand Canyon Trust and the Sierra Club are all raising challenges to block mining on the claims, saying the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality should not have issued some of the permits.
(Arizona Daily Sun / Arizona Republic Mar. 11, 2011)
Department of Interior plan bans mining claims near Grand Canyon
The U.S. Department of Interior is proposing to bar the filing of any new mining claims on 1 million acres around the Grand Canyon.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had temporarily withdrawn the acreage in 2009. Under the preferred alternative in a draft environmental study obtained by The Associated Press, new claims would be prohibited for 20 years.
(AP Feb. 17, 2011)
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that addresses potential effects of withdrawing Federal lands from locatable mineral exploration and mining near the Grand Canyon in Arizona was released to the public on February 18, 2011.
Comment Period Ends: May 4, 2011 (comment period extended).
> View BLM release Feb. 17, 2011
> Federal Register: February 18, 2011 (Volume 76, Number 34) p. 9594-9595 (download full text )
> BLM Arizona: Proposed Mineral Withdrawal Near Grand Canyon
> Download Draft Environmental Impact Statement
City of Flagstaff joins opposition to uranium mining near Grand Canyon
Flagstaff has joined five Arizona tribes in opposition to uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park. The city council has voted 6-1 to support a 20-year moratorium on new mines proposed by U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
(Public News Service Dec. 10, 2010)
Bureau of Land Management releases Scoping Report on proposed mining claims withdrawal near Grand Canyon
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has released a Scoping Report for the proposed withdrawal of nearly 1 million acres of federal lands near the Grand Canyon from new uranium mining claims. The purpose of scoping is to provide an opportunity for members of the public to learn about the proposed action and to provide comments on issues and concerns.
A total of 83,525 submissions were received containing 8,600 distinct comments. The information gathered by the BLM through the scoping process will be used in developing the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
(KCSG TV Mar. 8, 2010)
> View BLM release Mar. 8 2010
> Download Northern Arizona Proposed Withdrawal Environmental Impact Statement Scoping Report , U.S. BLM, March 2010 (5.4MB PDF)
> Download BLM Newsletter #1 - March 2010 (492kB PDF)
USGS releases report on uranium deposits and environmental impacts of former uranium mining near the Grand Canyon
New research shows areas formerly mined for uranium near the Grand Canyon have slightly elevated levels of uranium in the water, but that the majority of wells, springs and streams would be fit to drink under EPA standards.
Arsenic and uranium, however, were consistently detected in areas near mines along Kanab Creek and were found in greater amounts than the surrounding landscape.
The findings are important because they will be at the heart of data used by the Interior Department as it debates whether to allow or prohibit new uranium mines on the Arizona Strip amid renewed federal interest in nuclear power.
Researchers took 1,014 water samples in the region, including downstream of former uranium mines, and found that water exceeded av contaminant level for one or more elements 7 percent of the time.
USGS researchers looked at impacts from past mining, and sought to determine impacts on water, plants and animals.
They found there's little research out there that measures uranium in plants or animals living in the vicinity of the Colorado River.
At the former Pigeon Mine on the Strip, they found 10 weathered pieces of uranium ore, and some wind-blown uranium waste.
At the not-backfilled (not "reclaimed") Kanab North Mine, they found uranium had been blown around the site, at levels 10 times higher than what naturally occurs in the soil.
At a third, the Hack 1 Mine, ore and waste piles had been eroded by a flash flood, and uranium levels were elevated a half-mile downstream of the mine.
Grand Canyon Superintendent Steve Martin called the research useful, but limited in its ability to forecast the impacts of many more uranium mines north or south of the Grand Canyon if mining were widely approved.
(Arizona Daily Sun Feb. 18, 2010)
> View USGS release Feb. 18, 2010
> Download Hydrological, geological, and biological site characterization of breccia pipe uranium deposits in northern Arizona , Alpine, Andrea E. (ed.), Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5025, U.S. Geological Survey 2010, 353 p.
Bureau of Land Management sued for withholding records on uranium mines that threaten Grand Canyon
On Feb. 11, 2010, the Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for illegally withholding public records relating to uranium mines immediately north of Grand Canyon National Park. The suit asserts that the Bureau violated the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to disclose records pursuant to a July 30, 2009 request submitted by the Center. The Bureau is withholding the vast majority of eight linear feet of responsive records despite directives from the Obama administration requiring the agency to respond to information requests "promptly and in a spirit of cooperation" and to adopt a "presumption of disclosure."
(Center for Biological Diversity Feb. 11, 2010)
Protection of Grand Canyon from mining urged, after nearly 100,000 supporting messages filed
After nearly 100,000 members of the public called for protecting the Grand Canyon from mining, a Pew Environment Group ad today urged Congress to support legislation that would permanently ban new mining claims on public lands surrounding the park. Under the antiquated mining law of 1872, more than one thousand uranium mining claims have been staked just outside park boundaries.
H.R. 644 , authored by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), chair of the House National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee, would protect approximately one million acres of U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands surrounding Grand Canyon National Park from new mining claims. The bill would make permanent a moratorium on claim staking called for in July by U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
As the initial public comment period for the Department of Interior's environmental review of the withdrawal proposal ended October 30, 98,355 messages had been received in support.
(Pew Environment Group Nov. 5, 2009)
Arizona governor objects to federal halt on new mining claims near Grand Canyon
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer objects to a ban on filing new mining claims on nearly 1 million acres of federal land in northern Arizona for two years while a permanent prohibition is under study.
(AP Nov. 2, 2009)
New policy requires proven mine claims for approval of uranium exploration at Grand Canyon
The reclassification of nearly 1 million acres of land around the Grand Canyon to prevent new mining claims comes with a fundamental change in how the U.S. Forest Service does business with mining companies.
Companies that file to do exploratory drilling and other projects on more than 560 square miles of the Kaibab National Forest now must prove they have valid existing rights to their claims. That could include providing evidence that the mineral has been discovered at the surface with sufficient quality and quantity.
That wasn't the case before Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last month blocked any new mining claims on the land for a two-year period.
Salazar also reclassified 990 square miles under the control of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Unlike the Forest Service, the BLM has discretion in either taking the company's word that its claims are valid or conducting a review, said Jeff Garrett, a BLM geologist in Phoenix.
The change affects as many as 10,000 existing mining claims on federal lands for all types of hard-rock exploration around the Grand Canyon and some 1,100 uranium mining claims within five miles of the canyon.
(AP Aug. 14, 2009)
Government pulls land near Grand Canyon from mining
The U.S. Interior Department said on Monday (July 20, 2009) it would prohibit certain mining for two years on nearly 1 million acres of federal lands near the Grand Canyon while it studies whether to withdraw the land from new mining claims for 20 more years.
The lands that will be pulled are within portions of the Grand Canyon watershed next to Grand Canyon National Park in northern Arizona and contain significant environmental and cultural resources as well as substantial uranium deposits, the department said.
Mining would still be allowed to continue on pre-existing claims, but not for new mining applications.
(Reuters July 20, 2009)
> View BLM Arizona information
Conservation groups extend lawsuit that challenges new uranium exploration near Grand Canyon
The Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Trust, and Sierra Club today amended their lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of the Interior to challenge newly authorized uranium exploration near Grand Canyon National Park. The new uranium projects are located within a 1-million acre area that was required to be immediately withdrawn from mining by a June 25, 2008 emergency resolution of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources. Today's amendment challenges new uranium projects authorized by the Bureau of Land Management on April 23 and April 27, 2009.
> View Center for Biological Diversity release, May 8, 2009
Bureau of Land Management defies Congressional uranium ban, approves new exploration north of Grand Canyon
Documents obtained today by conservation groups reveal that on April 27, 2009, the Bureau of Land Management authorized Quaterra Alaska, Inc. (subsidiary of Quaterra Resources, Inc. ) to conduct uranium mine exploration operations across five separate projects on public lands north of Grand Canyon National Park. The authorization violates a June 2008 congressional resolution prohibiting new uranium claims and exploration across 1 million acres of public lands surrounding the Park.
> View Center for Biological Diversity release, May 5, 2009
Unofficial Draft Environmental Assessment issued for uranium exploration in Kaibab National Forest near Grand Canyon
On Feb. 22, 2009, DIR Exploration, Inc. released a Draft Environmental Assessment on a program of drilling exploration of uranium prospects located within the Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest.
> Download Draft Environmental Assessment, Kaibab JV Exploration Drilling Program, Tusayan Ranger District, Kaibab National Forest, Coconino County, Arizona, February 2009 (26.5MB PDF)
On March 11, 2009, the Kaibab National Forest issued the following advisory:
"The Forest Service is not currently seeking public comments on a proposal from DIR Exploration, Inc. to conduct exploratory drilling for uranium on the Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest. A document currently being circulated by DIR Exploration is not a Forest Service document and was produced outside of the required National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.
The Kaibab National Forest will begin evaluating DIR Exploration's proposal through the formal NEPA process at a later date. At that time, an official scoping period will be held for members of the public to review information and provide comments." (emphasis added)
U.S. BLM removes rules that allowed for uranium exploration moratorium in the Grand Canyon area
> View here
Hualapai Tribe bans uranium mining
The Hualapai (WAHL'-uh-peye) Tribe has renewed a ban on uranium mining on its land near the Grand Canyon, joining other American Indian tribes in opposing what they see as a threat to their environment and their culture.
(AP Sep. 16, 2009)
The Hualapai Tribal Council has voted to ban uranium mining on its Tribal lands which are located near the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
(Pacific Bay Minerals Ltd. Dec. 1, 2008)
Forest Service announces preparation of Environmental Impact Statement on uranium exploration in Kaibab National Forest
The USDA Forest Service is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to consider and disclose the effects of proposed exploratory drilling for uranium on National Forest System (NFS) land. The proposed exploratory drilling project would occur on mining claims held by VANE Minerals, Inc. and Uranium One.
Comments on this proposal must be received within 30 days following Oct. 10, 2008.
Federal Register: October 10, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 198) p. 60233-60234 (download full text )
On Aug. 10, 2010, the Forest Service gave notice that preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement has been put on hold, as VANE Minerals, Inc. has withdrawn their Plan of Operation (PoO). Further work on the analysis will be suspended until VANE
Minerals, Inc. resubmits their PoO, which is expected to occur in the
summer of 2011.
Federal Register: August 10, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 153) p. 48305 (download full text )
Conservation groups challenge Secretary of Interior to protect Grand Canyon and enforce uranium mining ban
On Sep. 29, 2008, the Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Trust and Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter filed suit against Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne for authorizing uranium exploration near Grand Canyon National Park in defiance of a congressional resolution prohibiting such activities across 1 million acres of public lands in watersheds surrounding the Park.
On June 25th, 2008, the U.S. House of Representative's Committee on Natural Resources voted 20-2 in favor of a resolution that requires the Secretary to withdraw public lands surrounding Grand Canyon from new uranium claims and exploration. The Secretary, acting through the Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management, has defied the resolution and continued to initiate and authorize new uranium exploration within the withdrawal area north of Grand Canyon. The suit claims that in so doing, the Secretary violated the Federal Land Management and Policy Act, National Environmental Policy Act and other laws.
(Center for Biological Diversity Sep. 29, 2008)
Settlement repeals uranium exploration near Grand Canyon, requires full reviews of subsequent drilling proposals
The Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Trust and Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter have reached a settlement agreement with the United States Forest Service and VANE Minerals, a British mining firm, over a legal challenge to uranium exploration approved last December for national forest land immediately south - some within three miles - of Grand Canyon National Park.
The suit held that the Kaibab National Forest violated the National Environmental Policy Act and Appeals Reform Act when it approved 39 exploratory drilling holes using a “categorical exclusion” from detailed public and environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. The settlement follows an April preliminary injunction and requires the Forest Service and VANE Minerals to withdraw the drilling approval and to undertake a full Environmental Impact Statement process prior to any renewed effort to drill at the sites.
(Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter, Sep. 26, 2008)
U.S. Congress halts mining near Grand Canyon
One million acres of public land around the Grand Canyon would be off limits to any new mining for three years under an emergency resolution adopted by a House committee.
The House Natural Resources Committee voted 20-2 on June 25, 2008, to compel the Interior Department to withdraw the property from any new mining claims. Supporters of the measure said a rush of claims to mine the area for uranium to feed nuclear power plants threatened the natural landscape that lures five million visitors to the park each year. The mining could also taint the Colorado River, a drinking water source for millions.
Republicans said mining is not a threat and walked out in protest before the vote. The committee vote is all that is needed to stop new mining claims.
(AP June 25, 2008)
House Subcommittee files emergency resolution to prevent uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park
On June 20, 2008, Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, announced that the House Committee on Natural Resources, chaired by Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., introduced an emergency resolution to prevent uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park.
The emergency resolution is in response to concerns about more than 3,000 uranium mining claims filed in Grand Canyon watersheds in less than three years.
The principal purpose of H.R. 5583 is to protect the park from the disruption of uranium drilling and mining near the rim and potential further contamination of groundwater. Supporters say it is needed to protect the Grand Canyon's seeps, springs, streams, river, and the people, plants and wildlife that survive on those waters.
Uranium in the Grand Canyon region is found in sedimentary layers that serve as significant regional aquifers. Mining disturbs and mobilizes uranium and other elements that have been mineralized and encased in these rocks for millions of years.
(The Spectrum June 20, 2008)
Uranium test drilling near Grand Canyon halted
On Apr. 4, 2008, a federal judge blocked a British firm from drilling test holes for uranium on the national forest near Grand Canyon National Park.
Judge Mary Murguia issued a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against Vane Minerals and the Kaibab National Forest until the merits of a lawsuit seeking more rigorous environmental analysis are decided.
(Arizona Daily Sun Apr. 5, 2008)
Indian leaders oppose uranium mining near Grand Canyon; Congressional Hearing held
Indian leaders, scientists, business interests and the superintendent of the Grand Canyon warned March 28, 2008 of dire consequences if uranium mining is allowed to proceed near the national park. Mining advocates minimized any likely problems.
At a congressional field hearing held in Flagstaff, proponents of a measure to ban mining around the Grand Canyon said the canyon is a national treasure worthy of protection from the impacts of such activity.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., who chaired the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, has sponsored a bill to ban a million acres near the Grand Canyon from mineral exploration under the 1872 Mining Act.
(Tucson Citizen Mar. 29, 2008)
> The U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, and Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources: Joint Subcommittee Oversight Field Hearing on "Community Impacts of Proposed Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon National Park", March 28, 2008
> Navajo's won't allow uranium mining, President tells subcommittee, March 30, 2008 (184k PDF, Navajo Nation)
Environmentalists sue over uranium exploration near Grand Canyon
The Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and Grand Canyon Trust say they are suing the U.S. Forest Service for approving a series of new uranium test drilling sites only a few miles from the Grand Canyon National Park.
The suit filed March 12, 2008, in U.S. District Court in Prescott, Ariz. claims the government violated several environmental and other laws when it approved the drilling without full environmental reviews.
(Associated Press, March 12, 2008)
Conservationists challenge exploratory drilling near Grand Canyon
On Feb. 11, 2008, the Sierra Club's Grand Canyon chapter and the Center for Biological Diversity requested that the Kaibab National Forest withdraw approval of up to 39 new uranium-exploration drilling sites immediately south of Grand Canyon National Park. The Forest Service had claimed that the proposed drilling was exempt from detailed environmental review because it would have no effect on the environment.
> View Center for Biological Diversity release Feb. 11, 2008
County Board wants Canyon Country off-limits to uranium mining
As uranium prospectors stake thousands more claims on the Arizona Strip and in the Kaibab National Forest each year, Coconino County's governing body is trying to block them.
On Feb. 5, 2008, the Coconino County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to ask Congress to put most of the federal lands surrounding the Grand Canyon out of uranium miners' reach.
Next, the Grand Canyon Trust plans to ask Arizona's delegation to draft a bill blocking new claims and canceling most of the existing ones around the canyon, including on parts of the Kaibab National Forest and the Arizona Strip.
(Arizona Daily Sun Feb. 6, 2008)
Grand Canyon Trust opposes uranium exploration near the south rim of the Grand Canyon
In an ominous move that threatens the integrity of the nation's most iconic natural treasure, the Forest Service has approved drilling for uranium at as many as 39 sites near the south rim of the Grand Canyon. This action marks what may be the beginning of extensive uranium mining operations in close proximity to the national park.
Under the antiquated 1872 Mining Law that still governs mining activity on public lands the government has virtually no power to deny applications to mine on any of these claims, regardless of the impact on national parks or any other resource. The approvals to drill for uranium near the Grand Canyon were granted to Vane Minerals , a British uranium mining corporation.
"The Grand Canyon Trust believes that the current uranium boom poses one of the greatest threats to Grand Canyon National Park in its history," said Dave Gowdey, Grand Canyon Program Director for the Trust. "Uranium development at the borders of the park threatens to contaminate Park waters with radioactive waste, poses public health problems for those downstream communities dependent upon Colorado River water, and disrupts the Park's unique natural areas. [...]"
(Environmental Working Group: Grand Canyon Threatened by Approval of Uranium Mining Activities , January 29, 2008)
> View deposit info
> View more recent issues
Employees working for Denison Mines began removing high-grade ore at the Arizona 1 mine north of the Grand Canyon in late December , according to the company's president, and trucking it to a mill near Blanding, Utah.
The mine is about 45 miles southwest of Fredonia in Mohave County, and about 10 miles from the boundary for Grand Canyon National Park.
(Arizona Daily Sun Jan. 13, 2010)
On Nov. 10, 2009, Denison Mines Corp. announced that it has made a production decision for its Arizona 1 uranium deposit located in north central Arizona.
The mine will be an underground operation utilizing the existing 1,252 foot deep, 2-compartment shaft and employing a combination of long hole and shrinkage stoping methods at a mining rate of 335 tons per day, four days per week.
Ore will be hauled by truck approximately 315 miles to Denison's White Mesa mill located near Blanding, Utah. The ore will be batch treated in the mill when 17,000 tonnes are available for processing with U3O8 recovery expected to be 95%.
Production is expected to total approximately 857,000 pounds U3O8 [330 t U].
Environmental groups have given notice that they'll sue the federal Bureau of Land Management over its decision to allow a uranium mine to reopen near the Grand Canyon.
The BLM says Denison has an approved mine plan and should be allowed to resume operations after closing the site about 20 years ago.
But the Center for Biological Diversity, the Grand Canyon Trust and the Sierra Club argue that the BLM is relying on an old environmental analysis and isn't considering potential impacts on endangered species.
(AP Sep. 8, 2009)
> View Center for Biological Diversity release Sep. 8, 2009
The groups actually filed the lawsuit on Nov. 16, 2009.
> View Center for Biological Diversity release Nov. 16, 2009
On June 17, 2010, Denison Mines Corp. reported that the United States District Court for the District of Arizona has denied a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club, Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians of the Kaibab Indian Reservation, and Havasupai Tribe to halt operations at Denison's Arizona 1 mine.
Conservation groups and Native American tribes today (July 12) appealed a federal court decision that denied a request to halt uranium mining just six miles north of Grand Canyon National Park. The appeal filed with the Ninth District Court of Appeals challenges a lower court's June 17 decision on the groups' request for a preliminary injunction at the Arizona 1 uranium mine. The appeal was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club, Kaibab Paiute Tribe and Havasupai Tribe.
> View Center for Biological Diversity release July 12, 2010
On Sep. 1, 2009, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality issued an air-quality permit to Denison Mines for the Arizona 1 mine. Denison Mines now has all the necessary environmental permits to begin operations.
When operational, the Arizona I mine is expected to extract 109,500 tons per year (tpy) of uranium ore. The extracted uranium ore is removed via haul trucks and transported for further processing at the White Mesa mill in Blanding, Utah.
> View details (AZDEQ)
On June 19, 2009, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) issued a public notice opening the public comment period on the Air Quality Permit No. 46700 for Denison Mines Corp.'s Arizona I mine.
Comment period ends July 22, 2009.
> Download ADEQ notice and documents (select "Public Notices, Meetings and Hearings")
While the Technical Support Document presents some minimum assessment of the hazards from radon release from the mine (106 mrem/year! [1.06 mSv/year]) and from direct radiation from ore transport, it simply disregards the dust emissions with this remarkable justification:
"Radiation exposure from dust associated with the mining operation is dependent on the concentrations of dust in the air and the activity of the compounds in the dust. Since these values are variable, it is not feasible to estimate the radiation impact from the dust."
This ignorance is particularly disturbing, as the Arizona 1 mine is to exploit a uranium deposit with one of the highest ore grades found in the U.S.
Denison Mines Corp. is planning on restarting operations at Arizona 1 in 2007 to complete the shaft and begin mining in 2008. (Denison March 20, 2007)
On June 14, 2006, International Uranium Corp. announced it will review and revise the engineering estimates for the fully permitted Arizona 1 Mine in the Arizona Strip district with development scheduled to begin early 2007 and production beginning in late summer 2007.
> View deposit info
On May 6, 2011, Uranium Energy Corp and Concentric Energy Corp. announced that their respective boards of directors have approved a stock-for-stock merger to be effected under the laws of Nevada, and that the companies have signed a definitive Merger Agreement & Plan of Merger. Upon completion of the Merger, it is anticipated that approximately 1,253,440 shares of UEC common stock will be issued to the former Concentric stockholders to acquire Concentric and its undivided 100% interest in the Anderson Property, a 5,785-acre mineral claim block located in Yavapai County, Arizona, with a previous history of small-scale uranium production.
On Sep. 12, 2011, the companies announced that the merger was completed on Sep. 9, 2011.
On March 3, 2009, Concentric Energy Corporation resubmitted its letter of intent to submit an application to the NRC to construct and operate a uranium recovery facility in Yavapai County, AZ. The expected timeframe for the submittal of the application is the third quarter of 2010.
On March 20, 2008, Concentric Energy Corporation provided notice to the NRC that it intends to submit an application to construct and operate a uranium recovery facility in Yavapai County, AZ.
On August 9, 2007, NRC is holding a teleconference to discuss regulatory issues related to a potential conventional uranium mill near the Anderson Mine in Western Arizona.
> Download Meeting Notice, July 25, 2007 (ADAMS ML072050014)
Anderson Mining Company of Wickenburg, AZ, is proposing a conventional uranium mill near the Anderson Mine in Western Arizona. On July 17, 2007, NRC is holding a teleconference to discuss related regulatory issues.
> Download NRC Meeting Notice, July 17, 2007 (ADAMS ML071980098)
Concentric Energy Corp. is planning to develop the Anderson mine and build a uranium mill on site.
A pre-licensing meeting was held by the NRC on June 6, 2006.
> Download NRC Meeting Notice, May 23, 2007 (ADAMS ML061430096)
> Download Report of Meeting, July 18, 2006 (ADAMS ML061940482)
According to Concentric Energy Corp., former site owner Unocal was planning a huge open pit mine with 38-to-1 strip ratio. They intended to mine 500 million tons of waste rock and leave a huge hole. Such an operation would be most difficult to permit now. However, the property were well suited to be mined by use of conventional coal mining techniques and in-situ leaching of pillars and low-grade material.
> View deposit info
Shaft-sinking at Canyon mine placed on standby:
On Nov. 5, 2013, Energy Fuels Inc. agreed to temporarily place shaft-sinking operations at its Canyon mine in Arizona on standby "due to market conditions, and to simplify and lessen the expense of current litigation at the mine".
(Energy Fuels Inc. Nov. 5, 2013)
> See also Center for Biological Diversity release Nov. 6, 2013
Havasupai tribe, conservation groups challenge uranium mine threatening Grand Canyon:
The Havasupai tribe and three conservation groups today sued the U.S. Forest Service over its decision to allow Energy Fuels Resources, Inc. to begin operating a uranium mine near Grand Canyon National Park without initiating or completing formal tribal consultations and without updating an outdated 1986 federal environmental review. The Canyon Mine threatens cultural values, wildlife and endangered species and increases the risk of soil pollution and pollution and depletion of groundwater feeding springs and wells in and near Grand Canyon. The lawsuit alleges violations of environmental, mining, public land and historic preservation laws.
(Center for Biological Diversity Mar. 7, 2013)
> View Center for Biological Diversity release Mar. 7, 2013
> Download complaint Mar. 7, 2013 (281k PDF)
Forest Service approves Grand Canyon uranium mine despite 26-year-old environmental review:
The U.S. Forest Service announced late Monday (June 25) that it will allow Denison Mines Corp. to begin excavating the "Canyon Mine" this fall without first updating the 26-year-old environmental impact statement for the uranium mine, located due south of Grand Canyon National Park on the Kaibab National Forest. The Service claims no new public review or analysis is needed because there is no new information or circumstances relevant to its original analysis.
The Canyon Mine is located in the 1 million-acre watershed where new uranium mining was banned by the Obama administration in January. Although the so-called "mineral withdrawal" prohibits new mining claims and development on existing claims lacking valid existing rights, it allows development on claims whose existing rights are deemed valid -- such as the ones the Forest Service just granted to Denison for the Canyon Mine based on "current economic conditions."
(Center for Biological Diversity June 26, 2012)
> View Center for Biological Diversity release, June 26, 2012
> View Forest Service release June 25, 2012
> View Forest Service's Canyon mine page
The state Department of Environmental Quality approved an air quality permit for Denison's Canyon mine this week.
(Arizona Republic Mar. 11, 2011)
On Nov. 12, 2010, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality started the public comment period for the proposed air quality permit for the Canyon mine. Comment period ends January 14, 2011.
> View ADEQ public notice
On Sept. 1, 2009, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality issued a Discharge Authorization for the 3.04 General Aquifer Protection Permit (APP) 100333 for the Canyon Mine to Denison Mines (USA) Corp.
> View details (AZDEQ)
On June 19, 2009, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) issued a public notice opening the public comment period on the Water Quality General Aquifer Protection Permit for Denison Mines Corp.'s Canyon mine.
Comment period ends July 22, 2009.
> Download ADEQ notice and documents (select "Public Notices, Meetings and Hearings")
Denison Mines has been denied a state permit for the Canyon mine:
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality said Denison Mines proposed using outdated, 20-year-old liners and impoundment ponds to capture uranium mine-related runoff. In addition, ADEQ said Denison wasn't specific enough in describing pollution-control measures at the proposed mines.
The Canyon Mine was the site of a long legal battle, opposed for mining by the Havasupai Tribe.
The tribe lost that court battle, but owner International Uranium Corporation put mining on hold until uranium prices rebounded. There is equipment on the site, but it has never been mined.
(Arizona Daily Sun May 14, 2008)
EZ mine, Mohave County
> View mine info
Comment invited on designation of critical habitat for endangered cacti, possibly impacting EZ uranium mine:
Submit comments by December 3, 2012.
> Federal Register Volume 77, Number 192 (Wednesday, October 3, 2012) p. 60509-60579 (download full text )
The comment period was reopened. Submit comments by April 29, 2013.
> Federal Register Volume 78, Number 60 (Thursday, March 28, 2013) p. 18938-18943 (download full text )
The comment period was reopened. Submit comments by July 23, 2013.
> Federal Register Volume 78, Number 130 (Monday, July 8, 2013) p. 40673-40686 (download full text )
> Access Docket ID FWS-R2-ES-2012-0061
The state Department of Environmental Quality approved air quality permits for Denison's EZ, Pinenut and Canyon mines this week. It also granted an aquifer protection permit for the EZ Mine.
(Arizona Republic Mar. 11, 2011)
On Nov. 12, 2010, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality started the public comment period for the proposed Air Quality Permit and Aquifer Protection Permit for the EZ mine. Comment period ends January 14, 2011.
> View ADEQ public notice
> View deposit info
Navajo Nation plans to block access for uranium transport at Wate mine project:
A uranium mining company seeking a mineral lease on state land in northwestern Arizona could have a hard time transporting the ore off site.
That's because the land is surrounded by the Navajo Nation's Big Boquillas Ranch.
Officials from the tribe's Department of Justice say they won't grant Wate Mining Company LLC permission to drive commercial trucks filled with chunks of uranium ore across Navajo land.
(Daily Journal May 27, 2013)