Energy Fuels Resources has announced its plans to reopen its Grand Canyon uranium mine, stating that the Obama administration's ban on the mine is void.
The company has received federal approval to go ahead with its operations at the Canyon mine, which is situated six miles south of the Grand Canyon national park's South Rim entrance.
According to Energy Fuels, US President Barack Obama's uranium mining ban, which prohibits any new mining claims on one million acres of land around the Grand Canyon, does not apply as the company had obtained rights at the time of the mine's closure nearly 20 years ago.
The mining company was granted the federal approval on the basis of an environmental study conducted in 1986 by the US Forest Service.
In March 2013, various environment groups such as the Grand Canyon Trust, the Centre for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and the Havasupai tribe launched a suit against the US Forest Service, arguing that this study was conducted 25 years ago and is outdated.
Energy Fuels Resources spokesman Curtis Moore disputed these arguments, saying that the Forest Service looked at the study with a modern view and decided that it is adequate, reports The Guardian.
But Grand Canyon Trust director Roger Clark told the newspaper that the mine not only threatens the landscape, but will also pollute the Red Wall aquifer, which is the primary water source to the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon has rich uranium deposits, and several companies are seeking to reopen old mines following a boom in the global uranium market.
Canyon mine is located on land managed by the Forest Service and was partially developed in the late 1980s.
Image: The Grand Canyon has rich uranium deposits and has attracted several investors. Photo: Olivier.