Oak Flat Copper Mine Could Impact Phoenix Area Groundwater Supplies
The San Carlos Apaches have fought a proposed copper mine that would be located about an hour east of Phoenix because it will destroy an important cultural site.
But the mine could also have impacts on the Phoenix area and beyond.
Efforts to block the mine have focused on a series of lawsuits filed on behalf of the Apaches, who consider the area sacred. Conservationists say the mine will also consume a lot of groundwater, with impacts that could affect the East Valley.
Roger Featherstone, of the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition, says the mine could reduce the groundwater supply when Pinal County farmers need it most.
“When the drought contingency stuff takes effect next year like they’re talking, then those farmers, they’re not going to get their CAP supply of water and they’re going to have to rely on groundwater so the availability of groundwater then becomes a lot more critical,” Featherstone said.
Congressman Raul Grijalva has introduced legislation to stop the mine, which was recently passed by the House Natural Resources Committee.