Pinyon Plain Mine (formerly Canyon Uranium Mine)
The Pinyon Plain Mine (formerly Canyon Uranium Mine), is a uranium mine located about 6 miles southeast of the town of Tusayan on the Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest and operated by Energy Fuels Resources. The entire mine site is about 17 acres in size. Uranium ore production has never occurred at the site.
The Kaibab National Forest has been involved in litigation regarding Canyon Mine, aka Pinyon Plain Mine, for many years.
In early March 2018, Energy Fuels completed sinking the mine shaft, which extends to approximately 1,470 feet to accommodate the bucket and cage mechanisms (tail room). Energy Fuels has advised the Kaibab National Forest that ore production will not occur imminently due to current uranium prices not favoring new production. Energy Fuels has not provided an estimated date for the beginning of ore production at Plain Mine Mine.
The U.S. Geological Survey drilled a monitoring well just outside the fenced area of Plain Mine Mine. The monitoring well is intended to provide further information concerning perched aquifers in the Pinyon Plain Mine area and also for perched aquifers in general to inform monitoring of the Northern Arizona Withdrawal.
On June 25, 2012, the Forest Service entered into consultation with tribes under 36 CFR 800.13 (b)(3), the Post-Review Discovery Process, and concluded that consultation in December 2015. The Forest Service remains committed to working with tribes, the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation throughout the life of the mine in keeping with the 1986 Record of Decision and the existing Plan of Operations for the mine.
The Kaibab National Forest has been involved in the most recent litigation regarding Plain Mine Mine since March 2013. Recently, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals withdrew a previous opinion and filed a new opinion that affirmed with one exception the district court’s rejection of challenges to the determination by the Forest Service that Energy Fuels Resources had an existing right to operate a uranium mine on land around Grand Canyon National Park. Full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Order and Opinion:
The above-referenced U.S. District Court Order and Judgment, which found in favor of the Forest Service in a lawsuit filed by Grand Canyon Trust, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and Havasupai Tribe, are available at:
There are approximately 1,629,000 lbs. of U3O8 at Pinyon Plain Mine, contained in 82,800 tons of inferred resource at an average grade of 0.98% U3O8. Uranium deposits are located within northern Arizona breccia pipes, which are vertical cylindrical bodies of broken sedimentary rock. Over the past half century, there has been intense interest in these uranium resources. Uranium is managed as a locatable mineral on federal land including National Forests. For locatable mineral policy and additional information on Forest Service Minerals and Geology Management.
Mineral Withdrawal and Valid Existing Rights:
Pinyon Plain Mine is located within the area segregated in 2009 and then ultimately withdrawn in the Northern Arizona Withdrawal process by the Secretary of Interior on January 9, 2012. Mining claims at the Pinyon Plain Mine were evaluated by Forest Service mineral examiners with regard to valid existing rights under the 1872 Mining Law. This mineral examination, completed on April 18, 2012, confirmed the existence of valid existing rights.
Pinyon Plain Mine Review:
Also in 2012, the Kaibab National Forest completed a review of the Pinyon Plain Mine Plan of Operations and all other associated approval documentation and determined that no modification or amendment to the existing Plan of Operations was necessary; that no correction, supplementation, or revision to the environmental document was required; and that operations at Pinyon Plain Mine could continue as a result of no further federal authorization being required. That review was completed June 25, 2012.
In October 1984, Energy Fuels Nuclear submitted a proposed Plan of Operations to mine uranium from the Pinyon Plain Mine claims. The Forest Service completed an Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate the plan, including significant comment and input from federally recognized tribes. The final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision were issued on September 29, 1986, approving the Plan of Operations with modifications. Mine site surface preparation activities began in late 1986. Appeals of this decision were made to the Southwestern Regional Forester and the Chief of the Forest Service, who both affirmed the Forest Supervisor’s decision. The Havasupai Tribe and others then sued over this decision in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. The District Court ruled for the Forest Service on all counts, and a subsequent appeal was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which affirmed the District Court on August 16, 1991.
Canyon Mine Plan of Operations, October 1984
Final Environmental Impact Statement Canyon Uranium Mine, September 1986 (9.1 MB)
Appendix, December 1985 (12.8 MB); Note: Draft EIS Appendix was included as part of the Final EIS.
Record of Decision, Canyon Uranium Mine, September 1986 (7.8 MB)
US District Court, District of Arizona, Order, April 1990 (1.7 MB)