Environmentalists and tribal leaders are gearing up to address a long-anticipated recommendation to reopen the Grand Canyon region to uranium mining.
The Nuclear Fuel Working Group, established by President Donald Trump in July 2019 to explore domestic uranium production, is expected to release its findings and recommendations soon. And those recommendations are almost certain to include increasing the domestic supply of uranium, which was named one of the U.S.’s critical minerals in 2018.
That puts uranium on the same footing with minerals like cobalt and lithium, used in the electronics industry, and rare earth elements like titanium and tin. These minerals are so designated because they are essential to the U.S. economy and, because many of these minerals are heavily imported, the supply of one or more may be disrupted, according to the American Geosciences Institute.
And placing uranium on the list also appears to have spurred federal policies toward making it easier for domestic mining firms to put long-dormant facilities back into production.
For example, in February, the U.S. Department of Energy issued a request for information about key challenges in reviving the uranium industry. Uranium mining in Arizona and the Four Corners region in the 20th century has caused long-term damage to both lands and people.