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