"The Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act, which passed the House today [Wednesday] by a vote of 236–185, would permanently withdraw more than 1 million acres of public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon from new mining claims. The land withdrawal would effectively limit uranium mining in the region to a single mine that was permitted in the 1980s and has been inundated with groundwater but has not yet produced any uranium ore.
The House bill is merely the latest salvo in a long-running battle over uranium in the region. The White House raised the stakes by declaring uranium a “critical mineral” and seeking ways to stimulate US uranium mining.
“Critical mineral” listing. Proponents of expanded uranium mining got some help from the White House in December 2017, when President Trump issued an executive order intended to prevent the United States from becoming dependent on foreign sources for “critical minerals.” Among other things, the president ordered the Interior Secretary to consult with the heads of other departments and publish a list of critical minerals, defined as “a non-fuel mineral or mineral material essential to the economic and national security of the United States.”"