Mining Story: Uranium exploration also produced rare earth elements.Minerals | Local News – Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona 2020-10-12 10:00:00 –

Rhenium is used in the production of high temperature superalloys and in platinum-rhenium catalysts used in petroleum refining. The aerospace industry uses rhenium for turbine blades used in jet engines.

Coconinite, an iron-aluminum uranyl phosphate sulfate hydroxide hydrate, has also been found in the mine. Named after Coconino County, this rare secondary mineral occurs in pale yellow, white, fine-grained, thin, layered arkose with seams less than 1 mm thick. Another rare secondary uranium mineral found in the field is carnotite, which is potassium uranium vanadate.

Exploration work was discontinued in the early 1980s, confirming isolated uranium deposits scattered along Vermilion Cliffs.

Mining claims were abandoned around 1994, and the land returned to the Bureau of Land Management, becoming the Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.

The once prominent headframe collapsed in the late 1990s. In April 2014, BLM installed a grate on two compartment shafts as a safety measure. Since the use of mechanized equipment in the wilderness was banned, mules were used to transport the grate to the mine. Flash floods a few years ago carried the once prominent ore chute away from the mine site.

The area was once thought to have potential as a place for public use and interpretation. However, the presence of low-grade uranium stockpiles has prevented BLM’s plans from moving forward due to potential health hazards.

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