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Supervisors asked to support trade law investigation of uranium mining

September 3, 2018

KINGMAN – Mohave County supervisors on Tuesday will discuss supporting an investigation into the import of uranium into the United States.

District 3 Sup. Buster Johnson, who brought the resolution to the board, is asking the supervisors to support an investigation, based on Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, into the effects of uranium imports on the country’s national security. The proposal seeks to reserve 25 percent of the market for American uranium mining.

Energy Fuels Resources USA Inc, along with Ur-Energy USA Inc., are petitioning the U.S. Department of Commerce to launch the Section 232 investigation. Energy Fuels owns the Uranium One mine in Mohave County.

The Section 232 investigation was initiated in May to determine if foreign-made vehicles are a threat to national security.

Section 232 already has been used by President Donald Trump to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. It allows the president to adjust imports without a vote by Congress if the Department of Commerice finds evidence that foreign shipments are a threat to national security.

The decline in the U.S. uranium mining industry, as well in U.S. allies like Canada and Australia, is a threat to the national security, according to Johnson’s resolution.

Mohave County and Utah mines could see $40 million in annual payroll, $9.5 million to the local governments and $30 billion during a 42-year period, Johnson’s resolution continues.

Sierra Club Arizona Chapter Director Sandy Bahr said the Section 232 investigation is an effort to increase uranium prices to allow uranium mining companies to operate mines in the Grand Canyon region. Bahr also said she thinks those numbers are inflated.

Protecting the Grand Canyon is more important to Arizonian’s health and the state’s economy, she said, and should not be put at risk for the short-term profits of the few and to line the pockets of mining companies.

“If Mohave County wants to focus on security and welfare, how about insisting the mess and contamination from past mining be cleaned up?” Bahr said.

There are still hundreds of uranium mines on the Navajo Reservation that have not been cleaned up. There also have been air and water issues for closed uranium mines such as Pine Nut and Canyon mines, located in the county, Bahr said.

The waters around the Canyon Mine are connected to the Colorado River. Any areas that drain into the Colorado River could be at risk from radioactivity from the mining, she added.

The supervisors will meet at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the county administration building at 700 W. Beale St. in Kingman.

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