The Grand Canyon is perhaps best known for its role as an amazing, awe-inspiring sight of nature's beauty and power, a beautiful American landmark that brings flocks of tourists (and their wallets) to areas that might not otherwise have a chance at much revenue. A lesser-known aspect of the Grand Canyon, however, is the multiple mining projects that go on around the national landmark. Such endeavors are proving to be less profitable than is ideal, however, as one mining company has decided to halt its endeavors in the grand canyon due to financial restraints.
A uranium mining company, in the midst of sinking a shaft for a mine just south of the Grand Canyon National Park, put its work on hold due to "market conditions and the expense of litigation." The company, Energy Fuels Resources Inc, stated that the project will be halted until December of 2014, over a year from now, or "until a ruling is issued in a federal case challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s decision to allow development of the Canyon Mine near Tusayan." The company had previously stated that they planned to extract 83,000 tons of ore to create 1.6 million pounds of processed uranium ("yellow cake"), but the time frame will now need re-evaluating in the face of halted production.
Financial restraints might not be the only reason the mine has been halted, however. A local Native american tribe and multiple conservation groups have been working to halt the mine's production for years, saying that the mine posed "potential harm to waters and wildlife of Grand Canyon, as well as cultural resources." This constant backlash, as well as record-low prices for yellow cake uranium, have finally condemned the mine to a stand-still until some compromises can be met.
Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club was quoted as saying, “Obviously this is an indication that it doesn't look good from an economic perspective. We obviously think that it has never looked good from an environmental perspective. It would be nice if they would also recognize that aspect of it and make the shutdown permanent.” With prices low and the backlash strong, it seems like this mine may soon meet a permanent end.[Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.]