Firm Asks Judge To Void, Change Copper Mine Ruling

By Bridget Dowd
Published: Friday, September 6, 2019 - 9:07am

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U.S. Geological Survey
Copper is fairly abundant in Earth's crust; what sets Arizona apart is its wealth of mineable copper, which it owes to a copper-rich granite formed in ancient volcanoes.

The company proposing to build an Arizona copper mine has submitted a request for a federal judge to vacate or amend a ruling that stopped work.

Rosemont Copper Co. has asked U.S. District Court Judge James Soto to change his July 31 ruling because it said opponents lack standing to sue, The Arizona Daily Star reported Wednesday.

Soto ruled that Rosemont Copper lacked valid mining claims on more than 3.75 square miles of public land where it wants to dump waste rock and tailings, the company said.

The request is the first step toward appealing the ruling concerning the $1.9 billion open-pit mine project.

Rosemont Copper is the Arizona subsidiary of Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals Inc., which holds the mining claims and owns the property 36 miles southeast of Tucson.

The company also wants the judge to reverse part of his decision that threw out the U.S. Forest Service’s environmental review of the project, which is now nearly six years old.

Soto found the federal agency accepted mining claims without question rather than attempting to determine their validity. He ruled the land cannot be used for mining activities without proof of valid claims under the 1872 Mining Law.

“This was a crucial error, as it tainted the Forest Service’s evaluation of the Rosemont Mine from the start,” Soto’s ruling said.

Stu Gillespie, an attorney for tribes opposing the mine, said the company is misinterpreting the judge’s ruling and misconstruing the standing issue by making arguments that are “wholly misplaced,” Gillespie said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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