An editorial in the New York Times says Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is going to "create new regulatory hurdles" to prevent mining on federal lands in northern Arizona. It is unclear whether this information comes from Mr. Salazar or the Times is simply repeating the wishes of anti-mining advocates.
At the Grand Canyon last week, Salazar said the 20-year moratorium he is imposing on exploration and development on 1 million acres of federal lands would not affect existing claims established prior to his withdrawal of lands two years ago. However, the Times editorial suggests the Interior Dept. is going after those prior rights.
Anti-mining forces have pushed Interior to change the rules on mining claims so that exploration would not be allowed unless a company could prove before the fact that economically-viable mineral resources exist. Such an action would have widespread implications well beyond the Grand Canyon region and uranium mining. Since discovering the resource is the purpose of exploration, it would de facto shut down exploration and subsequent mining on federal lands.
Here's the relevant section from the Times editorial:
Mr. Salazar said he could not cancel valid existing claims, but there is likely to be little actual mining. The decision to “withdraw” the land from future claims creates new regulatory hurdles for existing claimants, who must demonstrate, among other things, that they had discovered actual mineral deposits before the 2009 moratorium. Only a handful have been able to do so.