FLAGSTAFF – Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s decision to halt new mining claims on 1 million acres of land around the Grand Canyon comes with a fundamental change in how the U.S. Forest Service does business with mining companies.
Companies that want to explore parts of the Kaibab National Forest must now prove they have valid existing rights to their claims. That could include providing evidence of a sufficient quality and quantity of the mineral.
The National Mining Association says the change last month casts a cloud over future investment. Environmentalists say it will keep companies from taking advantage of paper claims while new mining is studied further.
VANE Minerals Group will be one of the first companies to have to prove claims on 24 sites proposed for exploratory drilling. The last of four public meetings on its proposal is scheduled for Monday.