Mining Operations Continue Under Approved Mine Plans on the Arizona Strip
Note from the Sierra Club Grand Canyon Protection Campaign about the following BLM press release: when mine operators decided to commence mining at Pinenut, they found the shaft to be full of water and had to pump out and evaporate millions of gallons of contaminated liquid from the shaft. Colleagues went to view the mine last year, and discovered a plethora of wildlife tracks going in and out of the evaporating pond… life-giving water is scarce and sacred in this region. The Aquifer Protection Permit for this mine is just a few pages long, and rests on the “fact” that the region is dry, so there’s no reason to worry about water contamination. Another sad day in northern Arizona…
Also, the Kanab North Uranium Mine, soon to be “cleaned up”, has had a pile of overburden blowing in the wind for decades. US Geological Survey scientists couldn’t even find the perimeter of the soil contamination when they evaluated the mine. Every “reclaimed” uranium mine in this region hosts elevated uranium levels in the soil. We have no reason to expect anything different at Kanab North, or Pinenut, or Arizona 1.For Immediate Release: 05-09-13 Contact: Rachel Tueller, Public Affairs Officer Phone: 435-688-3303 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
St. George, Utah—Energy Fuels Incorporated (Energy Fuels) the owner/operator of the Pinenut Mine in Mohave County, Arizona expects to commence production at the Pinenut Mine in late May or early June 2013, and continue for 2 to 3 years under its approved mining plan ofoperations. The Pinenut Mine is located on federal lands near Grand Canyon National Park that was withdrawn in January 2012 from location and entry of new mining claims for 20 years, subject to valid existing rights. The withdrawal did not affect mining operations that were approvedat the time of the withdrawal decision or new operations that will occur on valid existing mining claims. The withdrawal also did not affect other natural resource development in the area, including mineral leasing, geothermal leasing and mineral material sales.
The Pinenut Mine is one of three mines on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management that pre-date the withdrawal, all of which are operated by Energy Fuels. The Arizona 1 Mine, located in Mohave County has been in production since December 2009, and Energy Fuels expects to begin reclamation toward the end of 2013.
Energy Fuels expects to commence reclamation at the Kanab North Mine, also located in Mohave County concurrent with production beginning at the Pinenut Mine. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has accepted Energy Fuels’ clean closure plan for the Kanab North Mine. A final closure report will contain all of the information for ADEQ to make a determination for approval of clean closure for this facility. Energy Fuels has hired a Radiation Safety Officer to ensure the mine compound and surrounding area will be reclaimed to safe levels of metal concentrations and radioactivity. In addition, an independent verification will be performed to confirm the post reclamation conditions are safe for the general public and environment.
The Secretary of the Interior made the January 2012 withdrawal decision after engaging numerous cooperating agencies, tribes, counties, and stakeholders, and considering more than 350,000 public comments on the draft environmental impact statement, including input from more than 90 countries. The environmental analysis projected that 11 uranium mines would be developed during the 20-year withdrawal period, including the previously-approved Pinenut, Arizona 1, and Kanab North mines.
The withdrawal decision maintains the pace of hard rock mining in northern Arizona, while giving the Department of the Interior a chance to monitor the impacts of uranium mining in the region. The U.S. Geological Survey has been working with the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a comprehensive 15-year study plan to collect the information that will be needed to support a future decision on whether to continue the withdrawal beyond the current 20-year period.
The BLM manages more land – 245 million acres — than any other Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.