Arizona - Grand Canyon - Uranium

State: Arizona

In 2012, the Department Of Interior placed a 20-year moratorium on new mining claims that threaten to industrialize watersheds that drain directly into the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. In 2014 the moratorium held up in court after challenges from the industry. However, there are dozens of potential "zombie mines" across the Colorado Plateau. A zombie mine is a mine that has been shut down, but can be allowed to resume operations with no modifications to outdated plans of operation; no new environmental review, and they are not subject to the 20-year ban.

The Trump Administration is now working to roll back the moratorium.

There are as many as 10,000 existing mining claims on BLM and U.S. Forest Service lands near the Grand Canyon for all types of hard-rock exploration. Some 1,100 uranium mining claims are within five miles of the Grand Canyon National Park.

Proposed uranium development has provoked litigation, public protest and opposition from scientists, elected officials, tribal communities and water authorities, to name a few. In December 2015, state officials announced the renewal of air pollution permits for three uranium mines in the Grand Canyon area. Officials omitted public hearings from the process and placed a short dealine for public comments over the holidays. 

Conservation groups say mines drilled too close to the Canyon could contaminate aquifers that feed springs and the Colorado River, a source of water for more than 18 million people downstream from proposed sites. Hundreds of abandoned uranium mines still await cleanup, including more than 500 on the Navajo Nation.

Grand Canyon National Park generates more than $687 million dollars for the northern Arizona economy each year. Large scale mining development, with the attendant noise, air and water pollution and traffic generated by mining activities, could have adverse impacts on the Grand Canyon and could hurt the area’s tourism and recreation business.

Visit Grand Canyon Trust for more information


Grand Canyon Uranium Mining Video by EcoFlight

Here is another video, produced by a passenger on one of our flights over these mines. Thank you to James Q Martin and for sharing this information.

Grand Canyon Uranium Mining PSA from James Q Martin Media on Vimeo.