EMIGRANT, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke approved a 20-year ban on new mining claims in the mountains north of Yellowstone National Park on Monday, after two proposed gold mines raised concerns the area could be spoiled.

Zinke signed the mineral ban at an outdoors ceremony in Montana’s Paradise Valley, with Emigrant Peak rising in the background. The former Montana congressman was joined by local officials, business owners and others who support the move.

Mining companies and industry representatives say the Emigrant and Crevice areas are historical mining districts and opposed any halt to new exploration.

The ban extends a temporary ban imposed in 2016 under former President Barack Obama on new claims for gold, silver and other minerals on 30,000 acres (12,140 hectares) of public lands in the Paradise Valley and Gardiner Basin.

Most of the land is within the Custer Gallatin National Forest, but the underground minerals are overseen by the Interior Department.

 

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