Various mine claims dating back to as far as the early 1950s still lay along the Parashant National Monument wilderness. Grand Canyon through hiker Rich Rudow shows what you can find if you decide to look into a claim. Thomas Hawthorne/

The Mojave County Board of Supervisors asked Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke this week to consider lifting a 20-year uranium mining ban on public lands in northern Arizona.

The supervisors said in letters to Zinke that mining would restore jobs and pump money into the local economy, and asked the Interior Department to consider the status of the ban while he reviews 27 national monuments, including Grand Canyon-Parashant. 

“This ban took away much needed growth and jobs from our area,” one of the letters said. “We are requesting that your office look into this ban and if necessary start a process with public comments to withdraw the ban.”

The board endorsed the letter Monday on a unanimous vote. The final version of the letter was mailed Wednesday.

MORE: Is uranium mining near the Grand Canyon safe?

“The jobs pay real well,” said County Supervisor Buster Johnson. Arizona Strip uranium is considered high grade, and the mines could potentially bring millions into the local economy, as well as into Utah. 

“You have that kind of money sitting in the ground and you think, somebody’s got to use that,” he said. 

The Arizona Strip’s potential for uranium drew thousands of speculators to the region until then-Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar banned new mines while researchers looked at their impact on groundwater.

Conservationists had asked President Barack Obama to create a new national monument, which would essentially have made the ban permanent. Obama declined to name the Arizona monument, however, and conservationists have been watching to see how the Trump administration might handle the ban.  

“On the one hand it’s not really a surprise,” Roger Clark, of the Grand Canyon Trust, said of the request.

But Clark said problems with water contamination in the past have shown research is needed on the effects of uranium mining, and that thousands of people spoke in favor of the ban during a long public comment process.

“None of the arguments that the county is making have any bearing in relation to the facts,” he said.


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Arizona continues to push for more uranium mines near the Grand Canyon

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