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Interior Department Classifies Uranium as a ‘Critical Mineral’

Katie Walton-Day/USGS

A proposal by the U.S. Interior Department would increase domestic mineral production on public lands. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it classifies uranium and nearly two dozen others as crucial to national and economic security.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s “critical mineral” list follows an executive order by President Trump to lessen the nation’s dependence on foreign supplies. It would streamline lease permitting and environmental reviews, and improve mapping of the country’s resources. Officials say each of the minerals also has a supply chain that’s vulnerable to disruption.

Environmentalists, however, worry the plan would ramp up uranium mining near the Grand Canyon where new claims are banned on nearly a million acres.

According to the Sierra Club, the federal proposal would allow projects to move forward without public input, threatening the environment and public health.

The Trump administration is currently considering lifting the 20-year moratorium on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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