American uranium miners are lobbying New Mexico's Navajo nation for permission to mine their uranium-rich land, reports the Farmington Daily Times.
The Navajo's territory is said to have more than 70 million tons of uranium beneath it, however, the nation banned uranium mining in 2005. Their traditional land covers more than 27,000 square kilometres, spread through northwestern New Mexico, northeastern Arizona and southeastern Utah.
Texas-based Uranium Resources Inc. (NASDAQ:URRE) said there is opposition to such plans due to the legacy issues about mining in the area.
For about 30 years, the US federal government allowed uranium mining in and around the territory with almost four million tons extracted. Conventional underground mining was used to remove the ore and uranium permeated the surrounding land and water. Environmental studies have suggested this has lead to health problems for the locals. Additionally, more than $100 million has been spent on the clean up of the nation's lands and resources.
Uranium miners use advanced technologies plus take many precautions now and have said history will not be repeated.
Although banned from mining within the nation's boundaries, companies may be able to mine the adjacent land on which the federal government has overall jurisdiction.
Several companies have investments in the area already, including Uranium Resources Inc., Strathmore Minerals Corp. (TSX: STM; OTCQX: STHJF), Rio Grande Resources and Laramide Resources Ltd. (OTC US:LMRX).
The area is desirable since the conditions are good — the uranium is shallow and the climate fairly warm making it easier to mine for longer periods. Companies also expect the commodity price to eventually rise to between $50 and $60 per pound as demand for energy grows and nuclear plants become more popular.