The new century ushered in a domestic uranium boom as investments in uranium exploration and mining jumped sixfold between 2004 and 2008. This jump affected many Western states, but particularly the Grand Canyon area.
Some claim that the emergence of safer nuclear power plants and projected growth of nuclear programs in Asia and India encouraged the boom. Others cite the flooding of Canada’s Cigar Lake mine, which has the largest high grade uranium deposit in the world, as the cause of the bubble. Whatever the cause, the desire for more uranium led to a huge surge of uranium claims near the Grand Canyon.
A study by the Environmental Working Group shows that new mining claims within five miles of Grand Canyon National Park increased from 815 to 1,130, almost a 30 percent increase from July 2007 to January 2008. Most, if not all, of these claims were for uranium. The numbers kept climbing.
What is a mining claim?
A mining claim is a person or company’s assertion of the exclusive privilege to mine a parcel of public land. Each mining claim presents a threat to the Grand Canyon, its people, and its integrity.