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Public Lands

Mining firm moves in on land formerly within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

The filing is the first known claim by a mining company.

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A Canadian mining firm has staked claim on land that was, until recently, part of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

The acquisition comes six months after President Donald Trump slashed nearly half of the national monument along with a large part of Bears Ears National Monument, removing the lands from protections against the extraction industry.

The firm—Vancouver-based Glacier Lake Resources Inc.—said in a press release that it plans to mine copper, cobalt, zinc, and other minerals from the Colt Mesa deposit— discovered in 1968 and mined intermittently from 1971 to 1974 about 35 miles southeast of Boulder, Utah.

“There is strong investor interest in the “Battery Metals” sector, including cobalt, nickel and copper,” said Saf Dhillon, president and CEO. “With this new interest coupled with the growth of the EV sector and strong demand for cobalt, the Colt Mesa project is a welcome addition to the Company’s ever growing portfolio of projects.”

Glacier Lake Resources expects surface exploration work to commence this summer, and drilling to follow thereafter, pending permitting. It will be the firm’s first project in the U.S.

In 1996, President Bill Clinton established Grand Staircase-Escalante, and it was the largest land national monument in the country until the 1.87 million-acre site was cut in half.

And even though the Bureau of Land Management will oversee the lands until a new management plan is in place, the proposal has seen pushback.

This week, the Wilderness Society issued a response from Nada Culver, senior director for agency policy and counsel.

“Mining is prohibited in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and any mining claims are invalid, just like President Trump’s attempt to dismantle the monument, which we are already challenging in court,” Culver said. “This company’s actions, and any others that try to mine within monument boundaries, will be scrutinized. We are monitoring this situation and will not stand by and watch mining companies rush to leave irreplaceable scars and damage the natural values of these lands. For those who doubt the intended beneficiaries of the attack on our national monuments, we now have some more evidence of the real reason the administration is trying to sacrifice our public lands.”

During Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show this past January, The Wilderness Society, Patagonia, and Conservation Lands Foundation warned us this would happen. They projected a countdown clock to Feb. 2, when the land opened up to leasing.

Who else will chime in?