The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is expected to extend its existing ban on new mining in Southern Nevada by 20 years to protect endangered species.

The order, which covers 1,500 square miles of federal land in southern Nevada, does not impact existing mining operations.

A federal law was passed in 2002 prohibiting new mining operations from being started on nearly 950,000 acres of land in Southern Nevada for several years including historic gold mining areas.

The area, which includes 945,343 acres of Clark and Nye Counties, allegedly contains more untapped mineral deposits, the US Geological Survey said.

The BLM recognised 24 separate locations as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern in 1998 to protect the Mojave Desert tortoise, the woundfin minnow, the southwestern willow flycatcher, and the Virgin River chub, and other species.

The lands have been momentarily kept aside since the Clark County Conservation of Public Land and Natural Resources Act of 2002 was enforced by the US Congress. In 2007, the BLM extended that act.

The Centre for Biological Diversity has supported the permanent withdrawal of the southern Nevada land to mining.