US Forest Service To Make Decision On Rosemont Mine

Published: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 10:29am
Updated: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 10:36am
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A decision is expected soon from the United States Forest Service on a massive, open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains, about 30 miles southeast of Tucson. It’s likely the mine will get the green light, but there are several more regulatory hurdles before construction can begin.

Eva Sargent of Defenders of Wildlife says the Forest Service has little leeway because of the federal mining law of 1872.

“It’s really hard for the Forest Service to say 'no,' but that’s not the end of the game,” Sargent said. “The company can’t go ahead without a permit to pollute the air, which is being appealed. They need a permit to pollute the water, which is not going very well for them.”

The mining company says the Rosemont Mine would produce hundreds of jobs, add tax revenue, and a secure domestic source of copper. Sargent says the deep pit the mine would create would negatively impact some 900 private wells, while the mine would drain water out of the entire area.

“You know, the mine is miles across,” Sargent said. “It’s big enough to put the entire U of A campus into it, and it will leave this, basically, toxic lake that cannot be fixed."

She adds the mine would be located in the middle of habitat for the jaguar and Southern Willow Flycatcher. Sargent says those species would be poisoned if they drink the water remaining in the pit, and that the impact on the area’s groundwater supply, and resulting damage to ranchers, the tourism industry and wildlife are not worth it.

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