Pima County is challenging Hudbay Minerals attempts to have federal regulators reclassify two desert streams that will be impacted by its proposed Rosemont Mine as fleeting, short-lived, watercourses rather than as intermittent waterways that have continuous water for extended periods.
The distinction is crucial as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reviews Hudbay’s application for a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit for the massive open pit copper mine planned in the Santa Rita Mountains on the Coronado National Forest southeast of Tucson.
Reducing the amount of water in Barrel Canyon and Davidson Canyon could potentially allow Hudbay to reduce the amount of mitigation it must provide in order to obtain the CWA permit. The $1.9 billion mine cannot be constructed without the permit.
Hudbay’s efforts to obtain the permit have run into opposition from the Army Corps because its mitigation plans have not fully compensated for the loss of desert waterways. In July 2016, the Army Corps Los Angeles district office recommended denying Hudbay’s permit application. The Corps regional office is currently reviewing Hudbay’s application.
Rather than fully mitigate the damage it will cause to desert aquatic resources, Hudbay and its contractors are attempting to reduce the significance of the desert waterways by classifying them as “ephemeral”, which means they only have water for brief periods of time. Continue reading