Miners add slag to Canada’s environmental reputation

If ever there was an almost universally recognized icon for the environment in the United States, it must surely be the Grand Canyon. In 2009 the Obama administration placed a moratorium on uranium mining on more than 400,000 hectares of public land adjacent to the Grand Canyon. Now the moratorium is expiring and the Administration has to decide whether or not to renew it.

Clearly this pits the mining industry against those who wish to protect the icon of America’s national parks. According to Pew Environment Group, part of Pew Charitable Trusts and one of the most respected environmental organizations in the US, more than 8300 (yes, eight thousand three hundred!)  staked mining claims are currently in limbo on the public lands around the Grand Canyon as a result of the moratorium. That makes it one huge battle of mining versus the environment.  Pew Environment is already griping that several of the companies involved are based in Canada and that they would not even pay royalties to the US Government if granted the right to open mines.

So why would a Canadian company that is already mining in the area and that says that it has no active claims launch itself into the debate? When such a large battle is brewing one might have thought that the best strategy for such a company would be to lie low and stay quiet. But some miners apparently don’t see the world that way.  One of those gaining media profile in the debate is Ron Hochstein, CEO of Denison Mines, a mining company with its head office on Bay Street in Toronto. GallonDaily does not need to explain that Denison believes that the lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon should be opened to mining.

The part that leaves GallonDaily puzzled is why a Canadian miner would seek to raise its profile around such a contentious issue. Surely this is an American issue with plenty of American individuals and organizations available to prosecute the debate? Engagement of a Canadian mining company in heated discussion in which one side is already painting foreigners as the bad guys will surely only add fuel to the fire while causing further damage to Canada’s reputation in the global environmental community.

For an excellent, though admittedly one-sided, summary of the debate about opening lands in the Grand Canyon area to mining, as well links to relevant media stories from across the US, visit the Pew Campaign for Responsible Mining at http://pewenvironment.org/campaigns/pew-campaign-for-responsible-mining/id/328473

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