Arizona approves key environmental permit for uranium mine near Grand Canyon

By Debra Utacia Krol | Arizona Republic

The mine is located within a 1-million-acre area off-limits to mineral extraction, but was permitted before the Obama administration imposed the ban and thus is still considered active. 

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality issued an aquifer protection plan permit to Pinyon Plain Mine on Thursday, putting the mine’s operators a step closer to starting uranium extraction.

The mine, about 10 miles south of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim in the Kaibab National Forest, is owned by Energy Fuels Resources, a company incorporated in Canada with corporate offices in Colorado.

It has been opposed by environmentalists and tribes, particularly the Havasupai Tribe, some of whose members live in a side canyon of the Grand Canyon and have long feared that mining would contaminate their sole source of water. 

Pinyon Plain Mine has been in planning since 1984, but has not yet produced any uranium ore. The owners halted operations there after the price of uranium plunged to $6.40 a pound in 1992. Currently, uranium is priced at about $57 a pound.

The mine is located within a 1-million-acre area off-limits to mineral extraction, but was permitted before the Obama administration imposed the ban and thus is still considered active. 

Grand Canyon: Tribes, conservation groups oppose permit for uranium mine near South Rim

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