However the permits appear to be dangerously unenforceable and contain no remediation measures should the permitted pollution be exceeded.
Two of the proposed mines, EZ and Pinenut, are to the north of Grand Canyon while the third, Canyon mine, is to the south.
A US Geological Survey report in 2010 found wells and aquifers were contaminated by previous mining activity to the north of Grand Canyon.
Despite this, the new permits are only general ones and have no specific requirements to measure air or ground water contamination away from the mines. They also make no mention of how the mines are to pay for the cleanup of any illegal pollution which may occur.
In addition to the environmental dangers, many local residents of the area have been drinking uranium contaminated water for up to 40 years and are now reliant upon bottled water for all their water needs.
Taylor McKinnon, from the Sierra Club’s Center for Biological Diversity, described the move as playing Russian Roulette with Arizona’s environment and said an appeal against them would be launched.
The US Bureau of Land Management has estimated that nearly $3 billlion worth of uranium exists in the Grand Canyon area.
- Two year “time out” from Grand Canyon uranium claims (2009)
- Uranium mining claims in Grand Canyon ordered to be halted (2008)
Chris is a seasoned sustainability journalist focusing on business, finance and clean technology. His writing's been carried by a number of highly respected publishers, including The Guardian, The Washington Post and Scientific American. You can follow him on twitter as @britesprite, where he's one of Mashable's top green tweeters and Fast Company's CSR thought leaders. Alternatively you can follow him to the shops... but that would be boring.