Three Arizona tribes file federal law suit against U.S. Forest Service seeking to block Hudbay’s Rosemont Copper Mine


The Tohono O’odham Nation, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and the Hopi Tribe sued the U.S. Forest Service in U.S. District Court on April 13 challenging the agency’s approval of a plan by Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals Inc. to build the $1.9 billion Rosemont Copper Mine on the Coronado National Forest southeast of Tucson.

The lawsuit alleges the mine would deprive tribal members of access to ancestral praying grounds, destroy a critical part of their heritage including burial grounds and stop members from engaging in important cultural practices and religious traditions, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

“The Rosemont Copper project would destroy cultural and archeological sites on our traditional lands, including the graves of our ancestors,” Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Edward D. Manuel said in a statement. “Consider what it would be like if a foreign company proposed excavating Arlington National Cemetery. All Americans treasure this cemetery, just like our tribes treasure the land this mine will desecrate.”

Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law firm based in San Francisco, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the three Arizona tribes.  This is the third federal lawsuit seeking to stop the massive open-pit copper mine.
Continue reading

Posted in EIS, General, Hudbay, Human Rights | 1 Comment

Hudbay projects 2022 as the “hypothetical” year for its embattled Rosemont project to begin copper production

Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals is presenting a “hypothetical scenario” to investors that its embattled Rosemont Mine could begin copper production in 2022 which would require construction to begin next year on the proposed site in the Santa Rita Mountains on the Coronado National Forest southeast of Tucson.

Hudbay Minerals is telling investors it is financially prepared to begin construction on its proposed $1.9 billion project “soon” after receiving final permitting approval for the massive project that would be the third largest open pit copper mine in the United States and dump waste rock on more 2,500 acres of national forest.

“Rosemont project development is conditional upon receipt of final permits and Board approval,” the company’s January 2018 Investor Presentation states on page 29. Hudbay states it expects to spend $35 million in 2018 on advancing the permitting process, up from $20 million in 2017.

But the company is far from setting a groundbreaking date on the project which has repeatedly been touted to be primed for construction by Hudbay and its previous owner, Augusta Resource Corporation, since 2009.

Rosemont continues to face strong opposition from a Native American tribe, and conservation and environmental groups that have already filed federal law suits (here and here) seeking to block the project. Continue reading

Posted in Clean Water Act, Hudbay, Investors | 4 Comments

The EPA concludes Rosemont Copper Mine fails to meet regulatory requirements needed for Clean Water Act permit

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently notified the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals’ environmental mitigation plan for the proposed $1.9 billion Rosemont Copper Mine fails to address its impacts to southern Arizona’s water resources and fails to meet regulatory requirements under the Clean Water Act.

Hudbay’s 859-page mitigation plan is its latest attempt to salvage efforts to obtain a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit from the Army Corps.  The 404 permit is the last major permit needed before construction could begin on what would be the third largest open pit copper mine in the United States.

The  EPA’s 77-page assessment puts significant pressure on the Army Corps to reject the permit, which is under review by Army Corps’ San Francisco regional office. The EPA has veto authority over Corps permitting for Section 404 Clean Water Act permits.

The Army Corps’ Los Angeles district office recommended against issuing the 404 permit in July 2016 because of shortfalls in a previous version of Hudbay’s mitigation plan. The district determined the project would “cause or contribute to” violations of Arizona water quality standards and trigger “significant degradation” of federally regulated washes, the Arizona Daily Star reported on Jan. 14, 2017. The Army Corps notified Hudbay of the shortfalls in a Dec. 28, 2016, letter. Continue reading

Posted in Clean Water Act, water | 2 Comments

Expert: Hudbay’s environmental mitigation plan needed for key federal permit to build $1.9 billion Rosemont mine is likely to fail

Hudbay Minerals’ primary mitigation project needed to obtain the federal Clean Water Act permit necessary to construct the $1.9 billion Rosemont Copper Mine is based on a misleading scientific analysis and fails to offset for the loss of desert aquatic resources that would be destroyed by the massive open-pit mine, according to an analysis by a leading expert on rivers and wetlands.

G. Mathias Kondolf, a University of California Professor of Environmental Planning and an internationally-known expert on hydrology and river restoration, prepared the report for Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, a Tucson-based conservation group opposed to the Rosemont mine. SSSR released the report in a Jan. 4 press release.

Kondolf’s Dec. 29, 2017 report was submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is currently reviewing Hudbay’s application for a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit needed to construct the massive open-pit mine.

The Corps cannot legally issue the 404 permit unless Hudbay provides sufficient mitigation to compensate for the destruction of aquatic resources in the Cienega Creek watershed that will result from construction of the mile-wide, half-mile deep open pit and dumping of waste rock and mine tailings on more than 2,500 acres of the Coronado National Forest.

The Corps’ Los Angeles district office recommended denying the permit in July 2016, in part, because Hudbay failed to provide adequate environmental mitigation. The Corps’ San Francisco regional office is currently reviewing Hudbay’s application. Continue reading

Posted in Clean Water Act, Hudbay, water | 4 Comments

Conservation group demands public review of new Rosemont water mitigation plan

Save the Scenic Santa Ritas (SSSR), a Tucson-based conservation group, has requested the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) for the new mitigation plan submitted by Hudbay Minerals before the Corps makes a final decision on whether to issue a federal Clean Water Act Section 404 permit required for construction of the proposed Rosemont mine.

SSSR’s request was included in a Dec. 11 letter sent to Brig. General D. Peter Helmlinger, Commander of the South Pacific Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The last time the public had an opportunity to review and comment on a mitigation plan for the proposed Rosemont mine was 2011. At that time, the public reviewed a 6-page conceptual plan.

The current 859-page plan submitted in September of this year includes 3 features: one that was ruled out in the 2011 plan, one that is a completely new concept, and one that is substantially revised. The public has had no opportunity to review and comment on the current plan that is supposed to mitigate the very significant impacts that would occur to Outstanding Waters of Arizona and waters of the United States if the mine is approved. Continue reading

Posted in Clean Water Act, General, Hudbay, water | 3 Comments