The Jackpile-Paguate Uranium Mine, Grants Uranium District: Changes in perspectives from production to superfund site
— Virginia T. McLemore, Bonnie A. Frey, Ellane El Hayek, Eshani Hettiarachchi, Reid Brown, Olivia Chavez, Shaylene Paul, and Milton Das


Production from the Jackpile-Paguate deposit ceased in 1982, ending one of the world’s largest uranium open-pit mines of the era. Jurassic Morrison Formation fluvial deposits provided suitable hosts for humate-bearing primary, redistributed and remnant sandstone uranium deposits in the area. Mining from uranium deposits in the northern Laguna Pueblo yielded more than 95.8 million lbs of U3O8 , making it a world class uranium deposit. However, perspectives at the mine and throughout the Grants Uranium District, once the “uranium capital of the world”, have changed with time from production and economic benefits for companies, miners, businessmen, and nearby communities, like the Pueblo of Laguna, to the modern focus on remediation, understanding the mobility of uranium, and mitigating the health effects for uranium mine workers and nearby residents. Thousands of miners lived and worked in the Grants District, and although health effects were beginning to be studied at that time, the long-term environmental and health effects are only now being recognized. Today, the mine’s history remains relevant, as concerns about the release of elevated uranium concentrations in groundwater from the remediated area led to the Superfund designation of the site in 2013. Coincidentally, a research effort to examine the mobility, legacy and source of uranium began that same year by a team from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and the University of New Mexico. Many research efforts were concentrated on the area in and around the Jackpile-Paguate Mine, resulting in numerous relevant reports that not only identify important mobility pathways for uranium, but also define biological, chemical and physical processes between uranium, workers, nearby residents and the ecosystem.

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Recommended Citation:

  1. McLemore, Virginia T.; Frey, Bonnie A.; El Hayek, Ellane; Hettiarachchi, Eshani; Brown, Reid; Chavez, Olivia; Paul, Shaylene; Das, Milton, 2021, The Jackpile-Paguate Uranium Mine, Grants Uranium District: Changes in perspectives from production to superfund site, in: New Mexico Geological Society, 71st Annual Fall Field Conference, September 2021, Geology of Mount Taylor, Frey, Bonnie A.; Kelley, Shari A.; Zeigler, Kate E.; McLemore, Virginia T.; Goff, Fraser; Ulmer-Scholle, Dana S., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, pp. 183-194.

[see guidebook]