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Earlier in the year I wrote an article about the Obama Administration’s decision to allow Energy Fuels Resources to reopen an old uranium mine positioned just next to the South Rim entrance of the Grand Canyon.
Now Energy Fuels has announced that it is suspending all work on the mine due to a combination of falling uranium prices, which are at the lowest prices in five years, around the $35 a pound mark, and the rising cost of the on-going litigation that the company is facing from environmental groups seeking a ban against the mine.
Energy Fuels Resources have said that they will put all plans to reopen the mine on standby until December 2014, unless a ruling is made sooner that either permits them to continue, and ends the cost of the legal battle, or one that sides with the environmentalists and puts a permanent ban on further development of the mine. If given the go ahead to work the mine, the company has said that it could re-open the mine within two weeks.
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Back in April, Energy Fuels received federal approval to reopen the old uranium mine, despite a ban by the Obama Administration preventing all new hard-rock mining above a certain size, due to the technicality that it held rights to the mine from more than 20 years ago, and which made the mine exempt from the new laws.
The Havasupai Indian tribe, with support from several environmental groups, have sued the federal government for granting such approval, claiming that the mines documents, which date from 1986, are outdated and should not apply.
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Dave Uberuaga, the park superintendent at the Grand Canyon, voiced his worries to the Guardian that uranium mining in the area could affect the scarce supplies of water that feed that region of the desert.
Uberuaga has said that there are many other mines in the surrounding country which have similar claims to the Canyon Mine, and which could also reopen near to the Grand Canyon. “There are real threats every day and we're dealing with them.”
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com