Uranium companies come knocking at Bears Ears

May 8, 2023

Two foreign uranium mining companies have announced plans to drill more than two dozen exploratory wells on the edge of Bears Ears National Monument.

The Salt Lake Tribune’s Brian Maffly reports that Atomic Minerals has partnered with Kraken Energy to develop 324 mining claims across more than 6,000 acres of public land in San Juan County, Utah, adjacent to Bears Ears National Monument. Both companies are headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Atomic says the Bureau of Land Management has already granted permits for the 25 exploratory wells, which require the companies to post just $58,000 in bonds.

The uranium claims were staked last year under the General Mining Act of 1872, which still governs mining on national public lands. The claims are on land that were originally proposed for inclusion in Bears Ears National Monument, but ultimately left out of the final maps signed by President Barack Obama in 2016.

Landon Newell, an attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, told the Salt Lake Tribune the project demonstrates the problems with a 150-year-old law written in an era of land exploitation, with no environmental safeguards.

“You have an operator who, with very minimal notice and very minimal review, can go out, literally a stone’s throw from Bears Ears, and drill 25 wells,” Newell said. “That’s crazy.”

Quick hits

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Mother Jones

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Washington Post | Idaho Capital Sun

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Quote of the day

”I think and hope what folks see is that the preferred alternatives that we are analyzing are very different than what the company’s proposal was. That’s the balance that we’re trying to do.”

—Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone-Manning, on the the proposed Lava Ridge wind project, Washington Post

Picture this

Did you know….For years, Star Wars enthusiasts have ventured to the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area to visit the filming location of the opening scenes of Return of the Jedi. The Imperial Sand Dunes are the largest dune mass in California. 😍 Formed by windblown sands of ancient Lake Cahuilla, the dunes create an out-of-this-world landscape ideal for Hollywood film backdrops and are known as an off-roading mecca. 💫

📷 Clear starry night over Sand Dunes; Courtesy of Forrest J Funk

(featured image: Harts Point, Utah, via Google Earth)