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Wednesday
May232018

Will sacred Mt. Taylor be mined for uranium?

It would be tempting to say that the current battle over resumption of uranium mining at the sacred Mount Taylor, which sits atop one of the richest known uranium ore reserves in the country, is just the latest in this long and shameful saga. But it is not alone. There are stories like this everywhere in Indian Country — Bears Ears would be just one more example.

Mt. Taylor, located in the southwestern corner of New Mexico’s San Mateo Mountains, is a pilgrimage site sacred to at least 30 tribes including the Navajo Nation, the Hopi, the Zuni, and the nearby Laguna and Acoma Pueblos. Even the National Trust for Historic Preservation lists Mt. Taylor and points out on its website that new attempts to mine uranium there “may contaminate or impair the primary water source for Acoma Sky City (pictured), the oldest inhabited community in the United States,” in addition to the threats posed to the mountain itself from uranium ore extraction operations.

The existing uranium mine site on Mt. Taylor has not been operational since 1990 but got its first standby permit in 1999. The 1993 New Mexico Mining Act allows mines to remain inactive in standby status for a maximum of 20 years before reclamation must be required. Instead, on December 29, 2017, the New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division issued a Return to Active Permit for the Mt. Taylor uranium mine, owned by Rio Grande Resources (RGR).

The decision to allow resumption of uranium mining is based on spurious economic claims, say the groups fighting the decision, including the broad coalition, MultiCultural Alliance for a Safe Environment ( MASE) and Amigos Bravos. They face an uphill battle. Writes Earthworks: “Much of the land in question is still governed by the 1872 Mining Law, which permits mining regardless of its impact on cultural or natural resources. Many local tribes fear the development of uranium resources in the Mount Taylor region would destroy the culturally and spiritually significant land.”

Read the rest of the story at Beyond Nuclear International.