Rosemont Mine opponents begin legal action to overturn Forest Service approval of Hudbay’s $1.9 billion copper project


Rosemont Mine opponents have filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the U.S. Forest Service for approving initial plans to construct the proposed $1.9 billion open-pit copper mine on the Coronado National Forest in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson.

The Aug. 3 legal notice was prepared by The Western Mining Action Project of Lyons, Colo. and was written by attorneys Roger Flynn and Jeffrey C. Parsons.

The notice was filed on behalf of four Arizona conservation groups opposed to the mine including Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, Center for Biological Diversity, Arizona Mining Reform Coalition and Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals Inc. is seeking state and federal permits to construct the mine that is projected to produce about 240 million pounds of copper a year. The Coronado National Forest approved a “Final Record of Decision” last June.

The Western Mining Action Project’s notice alleges the Forest Service violated the Clean Water Act when it issued the final Record of Decision (ROD). The filing states that the Forest Service approval was based, in part, on a “fundamental misunderstanding of federal law.” Continue reading

Posted in Clean Water Act, EIS, Hudbay, Litigation, water | 3 Comments

Pima County rips Hudbay’s backdoor plan to gut Outstanding Arizona Water protections for Davidson Canyon

Pima County is sharply criticizing Hudbay Minerals for lobbying state environmental officials to review the standards used to designate Outstanding Arizona Waters (OAW) protections for 22 Arizona creeks and streams, including two waterways comprising the Cienega Creek watershed that could be negatively impacted by its proposed Rosemont copper mine.

The OAW designation is crucial because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has told Hudbay that its application for a Clean Water Act permit needed to build the $1.9 billion mine is in jeopardy because of the mine’s negative impacts on Davidson Canyon, which is classified as an Outstanding Arizona Water.

State waterways that are listed as an OAW are provided the highest levels of protection under the Clean Water Act. Davidson Canyon drains into Cienega Creek, which is also protected as an OAW. Davidson Canyon was designated an OAW in December 2008 after the Pima Association of Governments passed a resolution supporting the protection.

Former Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens hailed the listing of Davidson Canyon along with Fossil Creek as Outstanding Arizona Waters.

“These standards are long overdue and are absolutely essential to protect Arizona’s precious water resources,” said Director Owens. “The people of this state deserve clean water in our rivers, lakes and streams.”

But nine years later, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry believes Hudbay is laying the groundwork for the ADEQ to remove Davidson Canyon from the OAW list.

“This thinly disguised attempt by Hudbay to reverse the longstanding designation of Davidson Canyon as an OAW should be summarily rejected as a self-serving gesture to facilitate pollution of Arizona’s surface waters,”  Huckelberry wrote in a June 29 letter to the ADEQ. Continue reading

Posted in Clean Water Act, General, Hudbay, water | 7 Comments

Forest Service states it had no legal option in issuing tentative approval for Rosemont mine, which still faces major hurdles

Stating it had no legal choice, the Coronado National Forest signed a technical document Wednesday approving Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals’ proposed Rosemont open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson.

The document called a “Record of Decision“, does not clear the way for construction of the $1.9 billion project that would become the third largest open pit copper mine in the United States.

The ROD specifically states that Hudbay must still obtain a federal Clean Water Act permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well as obtaining final approval from the Forest Service of its Mine Plan of Operations and post a reclamation bond.

The Army Corps has given no timetable on when it expects to issue a decision on the permit that is required under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Last July, the Corps’ Los Angeles district office recommended that the permit not be issued because of the mine’s serious negative impact on desert water resources. Continue reading

Posted in EIS, Hudbay, water | 5 Comments

Pima County pressures state and federal regulators to reject Rosemont Mine

Pima County is advocating with federal officials to deny a key permit and other necessary approvals for construction of the proposed Rosemont Mine and is taking legal action to revoke the state’s issuance of a Clean Water Act (CWA) certification for the $1.9 billion project.

At the center of the county’s arguments is that the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality violated state law in 2015 when it issued a CWA Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the Rosemont project. Pima County filed an appeal of ADEQ’s administrative decision to issue the certification on May 5 in Maricopa County Superior Court.

The 401 certification “receives significant weight” in the ongoing federal review of Rosemont’s potential impacts on rare desert wetlands and riparian areas, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds.

The state’s 401 certification is part of the materials being reviewed by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as it decides whether to issue Rosemont a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit that allows dredging and filling of wetlands.

The Corps has not made a final decision on whether to issue the 404 permit, although its Los Angeles district office recommended last July that Rosemont’s permit application be denied. The mine cannot be built without the 404 permit. Continue reading

Posted in Clean Water Act, General, Groundwater, Hudbay, water | 7 Comments

Forest Service expected to approve Rosemont Mine before Army Corps makes key Clean Water Act permitting decision

The Coronado National Forest is expected to issue of Final Record of Decision approving the proposed Rosemont Mine next month, but the $1.9 billion project can not move forward until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues a Clean Water Act permit.

The Forest Service announced its plans in a Federal Register notice published on Monday, May 8. Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals is seeking permits to construct the third-largest open pit copper mine in the United States in Santa Rita Mountains on the Coronado National Forest southeast of Tucson.

Coronado Forest Supervisor Kerwin Dewberry told the Arizona Daily Star a little less than a year ago that he wasn’t necessarily going to wait for a Corps decision before making his own, the paper reported Monday. But, the paper stated, Dewberry said he would want to see the Corps’ analysis of the mine, adding: “I’m not saying I won’t wait. I’m saying my decision is not contingent on their decision.”

The Army Corps’ Los Angeles district office last July recommended denying the permit for the Rosemont mine. The Corps’ San Francisco regional office is reviewing the permit and has repeatedly stated it has no timetable for making a final decision, the Daily Star reported. Continue reading

Posted in Clean Water Act, EIS, General, water | 6 Comments