The Coronado National Forest today announced that the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Rosemont copper project will be released in November and subject to new Forest Service regulations calling for additional consultation with stakeholders before the Record of Decision can be released.
Under the new consultation regulations that go into effect Sept. 27, the Record of Decision (ROD) for the mile-wide, half-mile deep open-pit copper mine will be released between 90 and 120 days after the FEIS is published sometime in November, according to the Coronado National Forest’s latest timeline.
The regulations allow individuals and organizations that submitted timely comments in the preparation of the environmental reports an opportunity to file objections to the FEIS within 45 days after it is published in the Arizona Daily Star. The Forest Service will have 45 days to review the objections, with an option to extend the review period another 30 days.
The Southwest Regional Forester will review the objections. The Coronado National Forest cannot issue a Record of Decision until after the Regional Forester has responded in writing to all the objections. The Record of Decision must be consistent with any instructions issued by the Regional Forestor.
“We believe the moving to the new process will give the public the opportunity to more fully engage in the eventual outcome of this decision during the objection period,” Coronado National Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch said.
Upchurch announced last July that he wanted to issue the FEIS and ROD prior to the new consultation regulation taking effect in order to meet the needs of Rosemont Copper Co.
Pima County, the Tohono O’odham Nation and Congressmen Ron Barber and Raúl Grijalva, however, requested that the Forest Service not rush to publish an incomplete FEIS and allow the Rosemont permitting process to fall under the new regulations.
Vancouver B.C.-based Augusta Resource Corp., which owns the Rosemont Copper, stated in its Second Quarter Management Discussion & Analysis report filed with Canadian securities regulators that any delay in issuing the FEIS and ROD by the end of September will cost the company an additional $29 million.
Augusta reported $6.4 million cash on hand at the end of June. The company sold $2 million in convertible debentures on September 5 and states it has regulatory authority to sell an additional $8 million by the end of October.