Rosemont mine is lynchpin to Hudbay’s plan to construct massive industrial mining complex in southern Arizona

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In the wake of taking control of Augusta Resource Corp. and its Rosemont Copper Company subsidiary, Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals is already looking to expand its planned industrial mining operations in the Santa Rita Mountains to other sites in Southern Arizona, Hudbay President and CEO David Garofalo told the Green Valley News & Sun editorial board this week.

“What attracts us to Arizona is it is an historic copper district, it’s copper country,”  Garofalo said in a meeting Tuesday with the Green Valley News.

“Our geologists and geophysicists salivate over the potential within this district, and our objective, in addition to building Rosemont, is…to start to accumulate property positions, hopefully within spitting distance of the industrial complex we’ll build at Rosemont, so that we can continue to extend the life of that, and keep high-paying jobs for the foreseeable future,” Garofalo said.

Hudbay has a long history of establishing an industrial toehold in a region and then constructing numerous mines in the immediate area that often operate for decades. The company’s primary mining operations have been centered in the small town of Flin Flon, Manitoba, about 475 miles north-northeast of Winnipeg on the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border.

Hudbay operated an antiquated, highly-polluting copper smelter in Flin Flon for 80 years before closing it in 2010. Pollution from the smelter and other mining operations has contaminated the soil in the community, leading to a series of studies to test for lead and other metals in children. Continue reading

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Hudbay’s purchase of Augusta expected to close by end of July

Toronto-based Hudbay Mineral Resources is expected to complete the US$516 million  purchase of Augusta Resource Corporation and take control of Augusta’s Rosemont Copper Company subsidiary by the end of July, according to regulatory filings.

After months of bitter exchanges between the two companies following Hudbay’s hostile takeover bid launched last February, the two companies announced on June 23 that they had reached a “friendly” agreement for Hudbay to acquire all of Augusta’s outstanding shares Hudbay doesn’t already control.

Hudbay owns 23 million shares of Augusta’s 145 million shares outstanding and is Augusta’s largest single shareholder with a 15.9% stake.

Augusta’s board of directors and several major shareholders controlling about 33 percent of Augusta’s outstanding shares support the sale of the company to Hudbay and are now encouraging shareholders to accept Hudbay’s proposal. Continue reading

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Hudbay has ugly environmental and human rights track record, warns a Canadian mining watchdog group

A Canadian mining watchdog group is warning that Hudbay Mineral Resources, the Toronto-based company seeking to gain control of the Rosemont copper project, has “a profound disrespect for the environments and communities where it operates.”

MiningWatch Canada program coordinator Ramsey Hart says that U.S. regulatory agencies, local Arizona governments and the general public should not be “lulled into a false sense of security” by Hudbay’s corporate communications that emphasize the company’s environmental stewardship  and commitment to human rights.

A pond at Hudbay's abandoned Spruce Point mine appears devoid of life. Photo by Eric Reder, Manitoba Wilderness Committee

A pond at Hudbay’s abandoned Spruce Point mine appears devoid of life. Photo by Eric Reder, Manitoba Wilderness Committee

Hudbay, Ramsey states, is currently being sued for negligence in Canadian courts in connection with violent crimes at its former nickel project in eastern Guatemala, including the murder of an Indigenous Mayan land rights activist by mine security guards.

Hudbay has also failed to adequately consult Indigenous communities about mining operations, operated a heavily polluting copper smelter that was the largest single source of mercury and other toxic emissions in Canada until it closed in 2010; and failed to adequately rehabilitate closed mine sites, Ramsey states. Continue reading

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Augusta Resource running out of options in its nine-year effort to develop Rosemont copper project

The clock is running down on Vancouver, B.C.-based Augusta Resource Corporation’s nine-year effort to develop the controversial Rosemont copper project in the Santa Rita Mountains on the Coronado National Forest southeast of Tucson.

But that doesn’t mean the attempt to build what could become the third largest copper mine in the United States is over.

The U.S. Forest Service last week delivered a knockout blow to Augusta’s hope of obtaining the crucial Record of Decision (ROD) for the massive open pit mine by the end of June when it formally stated that the ROD will not be issued until a new round of Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultations are completed.

The ESA discussions between the Forest Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are expected to take many months and are likely to extend into next year. This is far too late for Augusta, which has no operating income, to meet pending financing obligations and to fend off a hostile takeover bid by Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals.

Augusta had repeatedly told investors in regulatory filings it would obtain the ROD and a Clean Water Act permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers by the end of the 2nd Quarter on June 30. Continue reading

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Another Rosemont permit challenged in court

Augusta Resource Corporation’s Rosemont copper project is facing another permitting challenge after the southern Arizona citizen’s coalition Save the Scenic Santa Ritas filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to overturn a state air quality permit.

The coalition alleges in the lawsuit that the state Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) improperly issued the air quality permit for the proposed open-pit mine in January 2013 by relying on modeling data manipulated by Rosemont to hide potential air pollution violations.

“The (ADEQ) Director should have denied the Permit because the (air pollution) sources authorized by the Permit may be expected to emit or cause to be emitted air contaminants in violation of the” National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) adopted by Arizona, the lawsuit claims.

“Air pollution from the proposed Rosemont Mine would threaten the health and safety of southern Arizonans,” SSSR President Gayle Hartmann stated in a press release.

This is the second lawsuit filed by the coalition of small businesses, farmers, ranchers and conservationists challenging a state-issued permit for the proposed mile-wide, half-mile deep mine in the Santa Rita Mountains on the Coronado National Forest southeast of Tucson. Continue reading

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