First US Uranium Mines in Eight Years Begin Operations Near Grand Canyon

"The push for more nuclear energy and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has spiked uranium prices, leading mines for the element to begin operating again in the U.S. despite long-term environmental and health impacts."

"Three uranium mines have gone into production along the Arizona-Utah border, with more on the way elsewhere in the Mountain West, as market conditions for the mineral needed for nuclear energy improve in response to a global push to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels to slow climate change.

But the mines, which were the first to begin operations in the U.S. in eight years when they began extracting ore in late December, are drawing fierce criticism from tribes and environmentalists. One of the mines in Arizona is located in a new national monument President Biden designated last year, while the other two are located in Utah’s quarter of the Four Corners region, where the impacts of  20th-century uranium mining persist to this day.

It’s the latest development in the long-running tension between the need to extract the minerals needed for clean energy sources and the damage mining brings to environments and nearby communities. Across the Southwest, environmentalists and tribes have pushed back against mining proposals, including the three that have gone into production in Arizona and Utah, citing potential impacts to water supplies and water quality, the negative health outcomes uranium mining has historically brought to Indigenous communities and the destruction of culturally sensitive land."

Wyatt Myskow reports for Inside Climate News January 15, 2024.

Source: Inside Climate News, 01/17/2024