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The Obama administration has banned new hard rock mining on over a million acres of uranium rich land near the Grand Canyon.
The decision marks a major win for environmental groups that have been campaigning for years to limit mining in the national park.
In a long running political stoush Republicans opposed the move, arguing mining in the area would create jobs and spur economic growth in the ailing US economy.
Republican Senator John McCain hailed the ban a “devastating blow to job creation in northern Arizona”.
The region contains around 40 per cent of the nation’s known uranium resources and could potentially be worth tens of millions of dollars.
Interior secretary Ken Salazar said the 20 year mining ban was the “right approach for this priceless American landscape”.
At least one creek in the national park is known to be contaminated by uranium, and a previous Government review has found high levels of arsenic from old uranium operations.
According to The Guardian the ban will not affect almost 3,200 existing claims around the canyon and 11 uranium mines would be undertaking continued development.