Ban on mining claims near Grand Canyon extended

By FELICIA FONSECA | June 20, 2011 | 3:00 PM EDT

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The Interior Department has extended a temporary ban on the filing of new mining claims in a 1 million-acre area near the Grand Canyon.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made the announcement Monday during a visit to the iconic park.

The department had been analyzing whether to prohibit new mining claims on the 1 million acres, or on a portion of it, or to take no action. The acreage had been under a temporary ban for new claims that now will expire in December.

Salazar says he will recommend that the entire 1 million acres be protected from new mining claims.

As many as 10,000 mining claims exist on federal land near the Grand Canyon for all types of hard-rock exploration.