Permits for Grand Canyon uranium mines

04 September 2009

Denison Mines has been issued permits relating to land in northern Arizona which aim to protect air quality in the Grand Canyon National Park.


The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (Adeq) has issued an air quality permit to Denison for Arizona 1, which lies north of the Grand Canyon and has been partially developed for underground mining. It can now be completed and begin operation to extract some 109,500 tonnes of uranium ore per year.


Arizona 1 (Denison)
The Arizona 1 headframe (Image: Denison Mines)
Dust busting


Adeq's air quality permit requires the company to ensure that operations at the mine - including transporting uranium ore on unsurfaced roads for 480 km - do not reduce visibility at the Grand Canyon or violate any National Ambient Air Quality Standards  established by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Denison will have to use tracking devices to make sure that the haul trucks do not exceed 40 km/h in order to keep the levels of dust down.


In addition, Adeq has issued aquifer protection permits for the Pinenut and Canyon mines to the north and south of the Grand Canyon respectively. At Canyon all surface facilities for shaft sinking are in place, while Pinenut is a fully developed underground mine currently on standby 


The aquifer protection requirement are the continuous removal and monitoring of the volume and quality of water from underground mining operations. The results of the monitoring for contaminants conducted by an independent laboratory will be sent to Adeq quarterly during the first year of operation and annually each year thereafter.


Adeq said that the Pinenut and Canyon mines will require additional permits for air and water quality before they can begin operating.


Benjamin Grumbles, director of ADEQ, commented: "We're adding important new safeguards to ensure existing mines protect air wand water quality near one of Arizona's most precious resources - the Grand Canyon - and we will be watching these facilities closely."