Exploratory drilling for uranium may soon begin on Tusayan Ranger District

TUSAYAN - Exploratory drilling for uranium may soon begin on the Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest following a recent decision to allow the activity given that certain measures are taken to reduce environmental impacts.

The decision allows VANE Minerals, LLC, a gold, silver and uranium exploration company that operates in Great Britain, the U.S. and Mexico, to drill exploration holes for uranium at a total of seven project sites on the Tusayan Ranger District. The project sites are all located east of state Highway 64 in the Upper Basin area of the district.

The purpose of the exploratory drilling is to locate and assess the quantity and commercial resource potential for uranium ore deposits and other minerals, if any, on the company's existing mining claims. No actual mining of ore is proposed at this time.

As uranium prices have risen in recent years, so has the number of mining claims on public lands. There are about 1,600 mining claims on the Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest. Mineral exploration and development on public land is consistent with the Mining Act of 1872 and the Forest Service's multiple-use mandate.

According to the Kaibab National Forest Decision Memo on the VANE project, "The 1872 Mining Law specifically authorizes the taking of valuable mineral commodities from Public Domain Lands. A 'No Action' alternative is not an option that can be considered."

The memo goes on to authorize the drilling of exploratory holes in areas that are specifically defined and that are accessible by existing Forest Service roads. "If the exploration yields information that warrants further mine development or production, then a new environmental analysis will be conducted to address the potential impacts of those actions," the memo states.

When drilling begins, it is expected that several boreholes will be drilled at most of the project sites to adequately assess the potential presence and depths of ore deposits. The duration of drilling activities varies at each location, but initial-phase drilling is expected to take 30 to 60 days to complete. Depending on the results, some additional exploration drilling may occur at the same claim sites within a one-year period. The deepest borehole is expected to reach about 2,000 feet.

For more information, please contact Jackie Denk at (928) 635-8314. To view the Decision Memo and map, please visit the Kaibab National Forest Web site at www.fs.fed.us/r3/kai.

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