The US government is planning to put a two-year hold on new uranium mining claims on nearly 1 million acres near Grand Canyon National Park in northern Arizona, following protests from environmental groups, the LA Times reports.
The ban will be in place while the government studies the potential mining effects on the area, which environmentalists say range from contaminating the park's watershed and wildlife to effects on cultural and archaeological resources.
The US Interior Department says it is placing a two-year hold on leasing of Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land – mostly on the north rim of the Grand Canyon – while it studies the environmental effects of hard-rock exploration and mining.
The department could extend the mining ban for up to 20 years, according to the report.
The land remains open to leasing for the mining of other minerals and for geothermal projects, according to the government.