Tribe represented in Grand Canyon mining ban suit

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Two public-interest law firms will be part of the defense team in lawsuits over the Interior Department's 20-year ban on new hard rock mining claims near the Grand Canyon.

A federal judge's order allows Earthjustice and the Western Mining Action Project to represent the Havasupai tribe and four conservation groups.

The National Mining Association and the Nuclear Energy Institute are suing the government over the mining ban that covers more than a million acres rich in high-grade uranium ore reserves on public lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon.

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act gives the Interior secretary the ability to withdraw 5,000 or more acres but not for longer than 20 years without congressional approval.

The lawsuit filed in February asks a judge to declare the act unconstitutional.

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