Monthly Archives: November 2013

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Video for “Youth Speak in Defense of the Canyon” Available

More videos of event available here:

Company slows uranium mining in northern Arizona

Company slows uranium mining in northern Arizona

FLAGSTAFF, AZ – The only two uranium mines operating in Arizona and an associated mill in southern Utah are set to cease operations temporarily as prices for the ore decline.

Energy Fuels Resources Inc. said uranium at its Arizona One Mine in the north part of the state will be depleted in early 2014, and the nearby Pinenut Mine and the White Mesa Mill in Blanding, Utah, will be placed on standby next year.

The move comes after the company stopped short of extracting uranium at another mine south of the Grand Canyon near Tusayan and as per-pound prices for uranium on the spot market dip to a five-year low, in the mid-$30s. The company plans to maintain the sites so that they can begin operating if the uranium market improves.

“Our main focus right now is to act prudently in the current weak price environment and also to deliver on our contract obligations to our customers,” Energy Fuels spokesman Curtis Moore said. “We just determined that we had sufficient uranium in inventory and the ability to get uranium through spot market purchases for the next couple of years without mining that product.”

The company’s mines lie in a nearly 1 million-acre area that was placed off-limits to new mining claims in January 2012. Companies with existing claims that were proven to have sufficient quantity and quality of mineral resources could be developed under a decision by the U.S. Interior Department.

Nyal Niemutch, chief of the economic geology branch of the Arizona Geological Survey, said Energy Fuels’ actions point to the boom-and-bust trend common in the commodities sector around the country.

American Bonanza Gold Corp. recently suspended operations at its Copperstone gold mine north of Quartzsite and said it would seek additional money for engineering and redesigning the underground mine to boost productivity. In September, Mercator Minerals Ltd. laid off some employees at the Mineral Mine Park near Kingman as it struggled with finances and declining prices for copper and molybdenum.

“Markets aren’t fully rational, and we’re in a period right now, not just in uranium, we’re seeing strong retreats of prices, we’re seeing costs go up and a lot of companies and mines are having difficulties,” Niemutch said.

Energy Fuels said it expects the spot price of uranium to increase as nuclear reactors in Japan come back online and demand rises for the fuel source.

The Pinenut Mine was partially developed in the late 1980s but sat idle until earlier this year. Energy Fuels plans to put it on standby in July and stop production at the White Mesa Mill the following month. The mill will reopen in 2015 to process uranium-bearing waste.

Environmentalists are looking to the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to ensure that the company doesn’t leave anything behind that would harm wildlife or the landscape.

“It’s a good thing on the one hand, but there’s a systemic problem in the regulations by the land management agencies that allow these mines to blink on and off at will without any review or revision in their plans of operation,” said Roger Clark of the Grand Canyon Trust.


Students Speak Out About Exclusion from 27-year-old Environmental Review Process – Demand a new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Grand Canyon Area Uranium Mine

For Immediate Release, November 21, 2013

Contact:      Montana Johnson, NAU Against Uranium, (928) 265-6621 or

Press Release

Students Speak Out About Exclusion from 27-year-old Environmental Review Process – Demand a new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Grand Canyon Area Uranium Mine

FLAGSTAFF, AZ – Today, NAU Against Uranium, a volunteer group made of Northern Arizona University students, organized the event “Youth Speak in Defense of the Canyon”. The event was a press conference confronting the exclusion of people born after 1986 from the public review process for the “Canyon” uranium mine, located six miles south of Grand Canyon National Park. Students asked Kaibab National Forest Supervisor Mike Williams to attend and accept a petition about the outdated EIS publicly, but no representatives attended due to “litigation regarding Canyon Mine,” which the students are not involved with.

More than 500 people born after 1986 have signed the petition. Though it’s within the agency’s authority to do so, the Forest Service has refused to update the uranium mine’s 1986 environmental review prior to allowing Energy Fuels to reopen it in April, thereby foreclosing public participation of petition signers and thousands of other young Americans.

“This mine will impact my generation, but my generation is excluded from the Forest Service’s public process,” said Northern Arizona University student Montana Johnson.

The Forest Service claims there is no significant new information to warrant a new EIS, despite designation of the Red Butte Traditional Cultural Property in the area, the discovery of soil and water contamination at the nearby Orphan Mine, and a 2010 U.S. Geological Survey report showing uranium concentrations in groundwater beneath the mine exceeding federal drinking water standards. The mine threatens cultural values of the Havasupai and other tribes and contamination and depletion of aquifers feeding Grand Canyon springs.

“I have no assurance, and neither does the public, that mining can be done safely if it’s based on a 27-year-old environmental review that ignores new science,” commented student Heath Emerson.

“When this EIS was done in 1986, my mother was only 15 years old,” said Sienna Chapman, an NAU student who was born and raised in Flagstaff. “Yet it is my generation and future generations that will have to pay for cleanup and deal with health and environmental effects.”

Last week, citing market conditions and ongoing litigation from the Havasupai Tribe and conservation groups, Energy Fuels placed the Canyon Mine on “standby,” ceasing shaft excavation pending completion of litigation in federal district court. The last time the mine was placed in standby mode, in 1992, it remained so for 21 years.

The petition reads:

We, the undersigned, were born after 1986 and therefore foreclosed from the public process prior to permitting the Canyon Uranium Mine on Kaibab National Forest land – our public land. Recognizing that science has advanced since 1986, including the discovery of soil and water contamination at the Orphan Mine in Grand Canyon National Park, better hydrologic models, and the identification of soil contamination at every uranium mine near Grand Canyon that was studied by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2009, and in light of the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars being spent to clean up uranium pollution on the Navajo Nation, we request a new Environmental Impact Statement, including public input and proper Tribal consultation.  Thank you.

About NAU Against Uranium

NAU Against Uranium is a collective of Northern Arizona University students who promote awareness and action about uranium mining issues in the region. In the last year, they’ve worked with other students to design and implement an educational campaign for protecting the area from uranium mining. The campaign included a petition drive that gathered more than 500 signatures from people born after the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that was approved for the Canyon Mine. NAU Against Uranium also organized a “No Uranium Mining Week” on campus in Spring of 2013, which included a week long series of educational presentations and a protest.

Image 1

Over 500 young people signed the petition asking to be included in the public process for the Canyon Mine.  Photo credit Taylor McKinnon.

Image 2

Northern Arizona University students (left to right) Heath Emerson, Montana Johnson, Sienna Chapman, and Tommy Rock were all born after the Canyon Mine Environmental Impact Statement was developed. Photo credit Taylor McKinnon.

Image 3

A young person points to the year they were born on a timeline of uranium mining around Grand Canyon. Photo credit Taylor McKinnon.

Nov. 21 – Youth Speak in Defense of the Canyon (UPDATED INFO)

“Youth Speak in Defense of the Canyon”

WHAT: A public, student-led media event to pursue a new Environmental Impact Statement for the Canyon Mine located at Red Butte near the South Rim
WHEN: Thursday, November 21st, from 3-4P
WHERE: The Weatherford Hotel, Flagstaff, Az

Thank you ethos7 design company for putting together the flyer!

Press release – “Zombie” Grand Canyon Mine Halted

For Immediate Release, November 6, 2013

Contact: Roger Clark, Grand Canyon Trust, (928) 890-7515, Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity, (602) 799-3275, Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club, (602) 253-8633

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK— For the second time in as many decades, operations to open the Canyon uranium mine six miles south of Grand Canyon National Park have been suspended. The Havasupai Tribe, which had previously challenged the mine, and conservation groups have been working to stop this mine because of potential harm to waters and wildlife of Grand Canyon, as well as cultural resources.

Pursuant to an agreement with the Havasupai Tribe and conservation groups, and citing “business reasons,” Energy Fuels Resources, Inc. decided to place the mine in non-operational, standby status on Tuesday. Uranium prices have dropped to a five-year low during the last three months. The mine was previously placed on standby in 1992, after uranium prices plunged to record lows. The company resumed shaft–sinking operations in early 2013; the current cessation will last at least until a pending a district court ruling or Dec. 31, 2014.

“The Canyon Mine threatens irreversible damage to the Havasupai people and Grand Canyon’s water, wildlife, and tourism economy, so this closure is very good news,” said Roger Clark with the Grand Canyon Trust. “The closure is temporary. Under current policy, federal agencies will permit this mine — like other “zombie mines” across the region — to reopen next year, or 10 or 20 years from now without any new environmental analysis or reclamation. That needs to change.”

The Havasupai Tribe and conservation groups sued the U.S. Forest Service in March over its 2012 decision to allow the controversial mine to open without adequate tribal consultation and without updating a 1986 federal environmental review. The mine is within the Red Butte Traditional Cultural Property, which the Forest Service designated in 2010 for its religious and cultural importance to tribes, especially Havasupai. It threatens cultural values, wildlife, and water, including aquifers feeding Grand Canyon’s springs.

The lawsuit charges the Forest Service with violating the National Historic Preservation Act for not consulting with the Havasupai Tribe to determine whether impacts of the mine on Red Butte could be avoided prior to approving mining. It also alleges violations of the National Environmental Policy Act for failing to analyze new circumstances and science since the mine’s outdated 1986 environmental impact statement. Those include the designation of the Red Butte Traditional Cultural Property, reintroduction of the endangered California condor, and new science showing the potential for uranium mining to contaminate deep aquifers and Grand Canyon seeps and springs.

“It’s been clear for years that the public doesn’t want uranium mining around the Grand Canyon. Now that this mine has been put on hold, the Forest Service has yet another opportunity to do the right thing: protect people, wildlife and this incredible landscape from industrial-scale mining and all the pollution and destruction that come with it,” said Robin Silver of the Center for Biological Diversity.

The mine falls within the million-acre “mineral withdrawal” zone approved by the Obama administration in January 2012 to protect Grand Canyon’s watershed from new uranium mining impacts. The withdrawal prohibits new mining claims and mine development on old claims lacking “valid existing rights” to mine. In April 2012 the Forest Service made a determination that there were valid existing rights for the Canyon mine, and in June it issued a report justifying its decision to allow the mine to open without updating the 27-year-old environmental review.

“It is time to halt this mine — permanently,” said Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “It was a bad idea 27 years ago when the now-dated environmental impact statement was issued, it is a bad idea today, and it will certainly be a bad idea tomorrow. Now we know even more about how much Canyon Mine threatens the water, wildlife and cultural resources of Grand Canyon.”

Plaintiffs on the litigation include Havasupai Tribe, Grand Canyon Trust, the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club.

The Canyon Mine is located on the Kaibab National Forest, six miles south of Grand Canyon National Park. The mine’s original approval in 1986 was the subject of protests and lawsuits by the Havasupai Tribe and others objecting to potential uranium mining impacts on regional groundwater, springs, creeks, ecosystems and cultural values associated with Red Butte.

Aboveground infrastructure was built in the early 1990s, but a crash in uranium prices caused the mine’s closure in 1992 before the shaft or ore bodies could be excavated. Pre-mining exploratory drilling drained groundwater beneath the mine site, eliminating an estimated 1.3 million gallons per year from the region’s springs that are fed by groundwater. A 2010 U.S. Geological Survey report noted that past samples of groundwater beneath the mine exhibited dissolved uranium concentrations in excess of EPA drinking water standards. Groundwater threatened by the mine feeds municipal wells and seeps and springs in Grand Canyon, including Havasu Springs and Havasu Creek. Aquifer Protection Permits issued for the mine by Arizona Department of Environmental Quality do not require monitoring of deep aquifers and do not include remediation plans or bonding to correct deep aquifer contamination.

Originally owned by Energy Fuels Nuclear, the mine was purchased by Denison Mines in 1997 and by Energy Fuels Resources Inc., which currently owns the mine, in 2012. Energy Fuels has been operating the mine since April 2013, sinking the shaft and preparing the facility for uranium ore excavation.

The Grand Canyon Trust is a regional conservation organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Colorado Plateau.

The Sierra Club is a conservation organization with 2.1 million members and supporters nationwide and chapters in every state, including the Grand Canyon Chapter in Arizona. Sierra Club’s mission is to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


“Zombie” Grand Canyon Uranium Mine Halted!!

“Zombie” Grand Canyon Uranium Mine Halted!!