Grand Canyon Uranium Mining Ban Reintroduced In Congress

Feb 18, 2021

Arizona Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva has reintroduced a bill that would ban uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. It’s the latest attempt to make permanent an Obama-era moratorium. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

An aerial view of the Pinyon Plain Mine near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Its owner, Energy Fuels Resources, changed its name in 2020 from the Canyon Mine. It has yet to produce ore.
Credit Ryan Heinsius / KNAU

Rep. Grijalva and 16 other Democrats introduced the Grand Canyon Protection Act Monday in the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s similar to other attempts to withdraw more than a million acres adjacent to the national park from future uranium mining while leaving existing claims intact.

In 2012, then-U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar banned new uranium claims for 20 years. Conservationists worry about the possible negative effects expanded mining could have on the Grand Canyon’s groundwater and springs. The Havasupai Tribe says if the moratorium is allowed to expire it would present a grave threat to its sole water source. The Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation also support the permanent ban.

Energy Fuels Resources operates a uranium mine near the South Rim that has yet to produce ore. The company says its extraction methods are safe for the environment and local water resources.