Uranium mining near Grand Canyon to remain banned: court
A 20-year ban on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, which applies to a 1 million-acre area around the national park, will remain in place after a federal court in Arizona ruled Tuesday against mining groups that had sued the federal government.
Mining associations and other groups with a stake in the sector had argued that the U.S. Department of the Interior erred in a 2012 decision to ban new mining for two decades in public land near the Canyon.
They claimed such prohibition was based on "overly cautious," speculative environmental risks. The withdrawal decision was based on studies assessing potential impacts on water, soil and other resources.
But the court said revoking the ban would have resulted in the development of 26 new uranium mines and 700 uranium exploration projects, which could result in more than 1,300 acres of surface disturbance and the consumption of almost 1.2 billion litres of water.
Source of jobs
Uranium resources in the so-called Arizona Strip represent about 40% of the US reserves. The yellow element was mined extensively there after World War II for use in the government's nuclear weapons program.
According to 2012 figures, uranium mining in the belt could create more than 1,000 jobs over a 40-year period, bringing $2 billion revenues in federal and state corporate income taxes, $168 million in state severance taxes and $9.5 million in mining claims payment and fees to local governments.
Miners now have 60 days time to appeal against the ruling in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
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