No company has applied to mine within the former boundaries of the Bears Ears National Monument since President Donald Trump’s cut to national monuments went into effect, The Washington Examiner reported Thursday.
Trump announced he was rolling back Utah’s Bears Ears by about 85 percent in December. The cuts went into effect last week, causing critics to claim mining companies would begin staking claims and applying for mining permits within the area.
“There have not been any new mining claims inside the Bears Ears area and we don’t expect there to be any anytime soon,” Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining Spokeswoman Hollie Brown said in a statement to The Washington Examiner.
Environmentalists have attacked Trump’s decision as a sellout of public land to industry interests.
“Trump’s monstrous move to slash Bear’s Ears’ area by 85 percent and sell it off to mining and oil interests is a violent attack on Indigenous rights and disgrace to our nation’s cultural and natural heritage,” Rainforest Action Network Senior Campaigner Ruth Breech said in a statement days before Trump’s rollback took effect. “Thousands of acres of sacred lands are now wholly defenseless to desecration and permanent destruction.”
Oil, gas and mining companies have been largely quiet about any interest they might have in developing the area. The Bears Ears area lacks significant oil and gas potential. It does boast several possible uranium mines, however. Uranium producer Energy Fuels, which owns several mining claims in the area, lobbied the Trump administration to adjust the Bears Ears boundary in order to ease access to a uranium processing mill near the monument, according to The Washington Examiner.
Other companies have discounted the possibility of new uranium mines in the area, Reuters reported.
“The current price of uranium is not likely to warrant any new claiming,” Kyle Kimmerle, whose family has more than 100 uranium claims already staked throughout Utah, told Reuters. “It would take $60-$70 for me.”
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