GC Uranium - header
Ed Moss

Why Care (section title)

Why Care

GC uranium - why care

It's the Grand Canyon.

It's threatening a community of Indigenous people.

There's a long legacy of contamination from uranium mining across the Colorado Plateau.

Ellen Heyn

GC Uranium - If walls could talk

If walls could talk

Each year, millions of people travel from around the world to admire the Grand Canyon — its sandstones, shales, and limestones hinting at ancient lava flows, shallow seas, and desert dunes that once covered the region. But the geological wonder also holds deposits of minerals that have enticed miners for more than a century.

GC Uranium - history

Uranium frenzy first struck in the 1950s, and prospectors flocked to the Colorado Plateau in search of the yellow dirt. They mined millions of tons of ore from tribal and public lands during the atomic era, leaving behind a toxic legacy that continues to pollute the land, water, and air today. 

A market spike in the mid-2000s renewed mining interest in the region. By the end of the decade, thousands of uranium claims peppered public lands surrounding Grand Canyon National Park. 

Annual global price of uranium from 1980 to 2020

In 2012, the secretary of the interior put a temporary stop to uranium exploration by issuing a 20-year ban on new uranium mines on 1 million acres of public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon. The ban gives scientists time to study the risks and potential impacts on scarce groundwater sources and communities of plants and animals. As of May 2022, there were still nearly 600 active mining claims on national forest and other public lands around the Grand Canyon, despite repeated legislative attempts in Congress to permanently ban new uranium mining around the park.

Grand Canyon active mining claims

GC Uranium - where we are now (text)

Where we are now

On February 15, 2021, Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-AZ, introduced the Grand Canyon Protection Act, H.R. 1052, to ban new uranium mines around Grand Canyon National Park forever. It passed the House with bipartisan support less than two weeks later, and was introduced in the Senate by senators Kyrsten Sinema, I-AZ, and Mark Kelly, D-AZ, but failed to pass the 117th Congress. Learn more ›

GC Centennial - Legislation CTA

Protect the Grand Canyon from uranium mines
Chris Jordan-Bloch

GC Uranium - San Francisco Court

In the courts

When necessary, we go to court to stop unsafe uranium mining around the Grand Canyon. We are currently involved in two cases.

GC Uranium - uranium lawsuits

Canyon Mine Case

Plaintiffs: The Havasupai Tribe, Grand Canyon Trust, Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club

Defendants: U.S. Forest Service and Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc. (as intervenors)

Background: Canyon Mine (which the mine owner renamed "Pinyon Plain Mine" in 2020) is a uranium mine located less than 10 miles from the South Rim. The Forest Service gave the mine a green light to operate in the mid-1980s. But before miners drilled deep enough to reach the ore, a sharp drop in uranium prices in the 1990s prompted the company to close its gates. When uranium prices rebounded again 20 years later, the Forest Service decided that the mine was exempt from the 2012 ban on mining around the Grand Canyon and let the company resume operations without updating its 1986 plan of operations or the government’s analysis of how mining would affect the area. The Grand Canyon Trust, along with the Havasupai Tribe and others, sued the U.S. Forest Service in 2013, arguing that this decision ran afoul of federal law.

Current status: After the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected our latest challenge in 2017, we petitioned the court for a rehearing. The petition persuaded the court to change its mind about one of our arguments and in October 2018, it issued an order which sent the case back to the district court. In May 2020, the district court ruled in favor of the uranium company, helping clear the way for uranium mining on national forest land near Grand Canyon National Park. In July 2020, we appealed that decision. In February 2022, the court denied that appeal.

Uranium Withdrawal Case

Plaintiffs: National Mining Association

Defendants: the United States

Background: When the National Mining Association and others sued the government over the 20-year ban on new uranium mines around the Grand Canyon, we came to the government's defense. The Trust intervened in the lawsuit, along with several other environmental groups and the Havasupai Tribe. We are doing everything we can to keep the ban in place and protect the Grand Canyon from the toxic uranium legacy that lingers across much of the Colorado Plateau.

Current Status: After the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 20-year ban, industry trade groups asked the nation's highest court to hear their case. The Supreme Court denied their request. More on the victory ›

Amand Voisard

GC Uranium - partners

Work with community partners

We work with conservation groups, Native American tribes, local governments, hunters and anglers, recreationalists, and others to highlight the widespread support for keeping uranium mining out of the Grand Canyon.


GC Uranium - partners (extra)

These grassroots efforts were crucial in securing the 20-year ban back in 2012, and they are crucial in defending the ban against current and future attacks. With continued widespread support, we hope to make the 20-year ban permanent by securing additional protections for public lands around the Grand Canyon. Join our community of supporters ›

GC Uranium - Havasupai

Havasupai Tribe leading the fight

The Grand Canyon is the spiritual and cultural homeland for several Native American tribes, including the Havasupai people, whose name means “people of the blue-green water." The Havasupai live deep within the canyon walls and rely on a spring-fed creek that runs through their village to drink, cook, and irrigate fields of corn and alfalfa, as well as other ceremonial and cultural uses. They worry that the mine could contaminate the water that flows underground and feeds the seeps and springs in their village. Read more about the tribe's struggle to protect their sacred water ›

The waters and people most at risk

Amy Martin
Blake McCord
Amy Martin
Jake Hoyungowa
Ed Moss
Blake McCord
Ed Moss

Past to Present: Uranium Mining Around the Grand Canyon

GC Uranium - why stop uranium (title)

Why Stop uranium mining around the Grand Canyon?

GC Uranium - Uneconomic

GC Uranium - Uneconomic

Uranium mining is uneconomic

Despite what industry claims, uranium mining is not a significant economic driver in the region. It’s the canyons, forests, and mountains — not uranium mines — that draw millions of visitors and their pocketbooks to the region each year.

Take a look. The math is simple ›

GC Uranium - economic stats

Mining industry

Canyon Mine

The owners of Canyon Mine estimate they will employ 60 people at peak operation and run out of ore to mine in 10 years. If the current ban was not in place and market prices were favorable, the mining industry could only support about 600 temporary jobs in northern Arizona. And the return to the government is far lower than it could be, since uranium companies pay no federal royalties and minimal fees to maintain their claims on federal lands.

Tourism industry

Recreation in Grand Canyon

Travel and tourism contribute an estimated 18,000 jobs to northern Arizona’s economy. Visitors contribute $168 million in state and local taxes. In 2019, Grand Canyon National Park alone contributed over 11,800 jobs in local gateway communities. And 6 million tourists spent $891 million on lodging, food, recreational activities, and more in surrounding towns. See the Grand Canyon National Park visitor spending report here ›

GC uranium - scientific uncertainty

GC uranium - scientific uncertainty
Blake McCord

There is scientific uncertainty

Groundwater flow in the canyon is a bit of a mystery. Where does it go? Where does it emerge? How long does it take to get there? 

The Grand Canyon is a landscape of fractures, faults, and sinkholes. Scientists need to better understand what's happening underground in order to determine the risks uranium mining poses to our aquifers, springs, and the Colorado River.


GC Uranium - prudent approach

Basically, it boils down to this:

Some places are too precious to mine. The Grand Canyon is one of them. 

Grand Canyon - Protect the Grand Canyon from toxic uranium mining

Protect the Grand Canyon from uranium mining

Uranium Blog


Is it true that the Grand Canyon is home to a vast supply of uranium? Let's check the numbers.

Read More

Canyon Mine, aka Pinyon Plain Mine, a controversial uranium mine near Grand Canyon National Park, is hiring.

Read More

One in 33 people employed in Arizona in 2021 worked in outdoor recreation. Arizona must protect the Grand Canyon from uranium mining.

Read More
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