State regulator seeks public comment on key Rosemont mitigation plan that it has not made available for review

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The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is seeking public comment on a crucial mitigation plan for the proposed $1.9 billion Rosemont Copper Mine without providing the plan for the public to review.

Instead, the ADEQ has only provided the public a brief, four-paragraph summary of an amended proposal submitted by Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals’ Arizona subsidiary Rosemont Copper Company.

The ADEQ summary outlines Rosemont’s latest proposal to modify a Sonoita Creek farm so it can qualify as conservation credits to compensate for the expected loss of desert wetlands caused by its massive copper mine.

The regulatory agency has already granted “conditional” approval of the plan before the plan has been released to the public. The ADEQ opened a public comment period on its conditional decision on Oct. 6 and is set to close 30 days later on Nov. 6. Continue reading

Posted in General, Hudbay, water | 14 Comments

Former Hudbay security chief faces new Guatemala trial for murder and aggravated assault

A Guatemalan appeal court has overturned a not guilty verdict rendered by a judge last April in the murder and aggravated assault trial of former Hudbay Minerals’ security chief Mynor Padilla.

Padilla, 53, will now face a second criminal trial before a new Guatemalan judge in the high-profile case that could have serious implications for how Canadian mining companies operate overseas.

Padilla is charged in the shooting death of Adolfo Ich, a Mayan Q’eqchi’, during a Sept. 27, 2009 protest on contested land at Fenix nickel mine in El Estor, Guatemala. At the time, Padilla was employed by Compania Guatemalteca de Niquel (CGN), then a subsidiary of HudBay.

Adolfo Ich Chamán was alleged murdered by Mynor Padilla. Photograph by James Rodriguez

Adolfo Ich Chamán
Photograph by James Rodriguez

The former Guatemalan army officer is also charged in shooting German Chub, leaving the young father paralyzed from the chest down and with one functioning lung.

Ich’s widow, Angelica Choc, Chub and 11 Mayan women who alleged they were gang raped by mine security personnel have filed civil suits in Ontario Superior Court against Hudbay in a closely watched case with fundamental implications for Canadian mining companies. About two-thirds of the world’s mining companies are based in Canada. Continue reading

Posted in Hudbay, Human Rights | 2 Comments

Enviros file federal lawsuit challenging Rosemont mine

A Tucson environmental group on Monday filed a lawsuit against the federal government to challenge the proposed Rosemont open-pit copper mine that would destroy critical habit for the endangered jaguar.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and challenges the agency’s “biological opinion” which led to the approval of the mine by the U.S. Forest Service in June. The Forest Service is also named as a defendant in the case filed in U.S. District Court.

The $1.9 billion mine would be constructed in the Santa Rita Mountains on the Coronado National Forest southeast of Tucson. Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals is seeking state and federal permits to construct the mile-wide, half-mile deep mine that would dump waste rock and mine tailings on more than 3,000 acres of the national forest.

The mine’s footprint lies squarely in jaguar critical habitat, land that’s been scientifically determined to be critically important for the survival and recovery of jaguars in the United States, the Center states in a press release. Continue reading

Posted in Endangered Species, Litigation | 5 Comments

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