Reopening of a Uranium Mine in the Grand Canyon


Written by Daniel Jimenez

        Canyon Mine located in the Grand Canyon, which lies within Arizona is a possible uranium site that was proposed and is in the process of trying to get built. The injustice stems from the fact that this site is located nearby a local tribe, the Havasupai tribe, which is affected negatively by the mine and will even be more so negatively affected if the mine gets renovated into a uranium mine. [1] Currently the mine still has effects on the people because it still has leakages of natural into the water supply. The Havasupai tribe which consists of about 775 Native Americans, are fighting day and night to prevent more injustice rising from this site. [2] Due to their socioeconomic status and positions, it is hard for them to get anywhere politically. The Obama administration put out a ban in 2012 against new uranium mines being built. However, due to the fact that this mine was established in the 1980’s, it was grandfathered in through this loophole. 


        The biggest issue with the continuation and renovation of this mine will be the constant fear and worrying of possible leaks and contamination of the only water supply for the village and tribe members. [3] Their water supply sits dangerously close to the mine site, and when drilling or mining a substance like uranium, the effects can be catastrophic, not only for the villagers but also for the people working in these conditions. Another issue with sites like this is the cleanup of them once they go out of business. Many sites are not cleaned up properly or taken care of properly once they stop operating. [4]  The open shafts and mines left behind are immediate and obvious dangers to those who travel in them and can easily be hurt by falling debris. These same people can also be injured or hurt by the materials within the mines or shafts themselves. For example, walking into a uranium mine is obviously not the best move if you want to avoid a life of cancer and radiation. But the thing is, is that without proper cleaning or deconstruction of these type of sites and everything they leave behind, people who surround the area will always be in danger. People aren’t the only ones in danger either, animals are just as susceptible or even more so, to walk into a mine like this and instantly obtain the negative effects that would come from a uranium mine. I believe the reasons for the injustice going on at this site can relate to certain theories that have been created for instances like this. The Sacrifice Zone Theory and the Resource Curse theory.


         The Sacrifice Zone theory hits this place hard because because since this mine was already built, it is already ‘lost’ or ‘used’ to the point where it doesn’t matter what happens there anymore and that it is ‘ok’ to just keep building there and hurting the environment. The Resource Curse theory affects this specific area because it has an abundance of a mineral  – in this case uranium –  that’s important to people either for economic or social purposes, and now this area is getting stripped of that uranium which continuously which affects the people who live in that area, affects the actual environmental around the resource, and worst of all, the only people who see the benefits of this resource are the ones taking advantage of it and selling it or using it for their own personal gain. For this particular site, I would say they are more victims of the Sacrifice Zone theory because since there was already a mine established there in the 1980’s, all the new laws and regulations which ban uranium mines and other types of dangerous mines do not apply to Canyon Mine. This makes this mine susceptible to companies who want to continue making a profit off of things like Uranium.

       Without the proper assistance, Havasupai villagers and members can be in for a lot of trouble. It certainly is challenging for local people to fight companies off when they don’t have the political or financial resources like these big companies do, which is why it is important to spread the word about injustices just like Canyon Mine. 


[1]Walters, J. (2017, July 17). In the Grand Canyon, uranium mining threatens a tribe’s survival. Retrieved October 04, 2017, from grand-canyon-uranium-mining-havasupai-tribe-water-source

[2]Uranium Mining. (n.d.). Retrieved October 04, 2017, from uranium

[3]Clark, R. (16, November 15). Grand Canyon Uranium Mine Set to Re-Open. Retrieved October 04, 2017, from set-re-open

[4]Walters, J



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