Pima County joins Grijalva and Barber calling for new Rosemont Draft Environmental Impact Statement

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Pima County on Thursday joined Democratic U.S. Representatives Ron Barber and Raul Grijalva in formally requesting the U.S. Forest Service to require substantial revisions to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Rosemont copper mine.

“A new draft DEIS and public comment period are warranted for this project,” Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry said in an Oct. 25 letter to Coronado National Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch.

Last July, Rosemont Copper Company submitted revised plans to the Forest Service for the mile-wide, half-mile deep open pit copper mine it wants to build in the Santa Rita Mountains on the Coronado National Forest south of Tucson. Rosemont Copper is owned by Vancouver, B.C.-based Augusta Resource Corporation.

Rosemont, in July and September letters to the Forest Service, stated the revisions to its mining plan included in the DEIS it submitted last year and for which the public comment period is now closed, are minor and do not require extensive analysis such as a supplemental or new DEIS.

Huckleberry, however, said Rosemont’s revisions are “substantial changes” to the proposed mine, which under federal law must be reviewed either through a supplemental or new DEIS.

The substantial changes cited by Huckleberry include:

* An additional 80 million tons more of ore will be removed from the mining pit.

* The pit is “much larger” than what was proposed in the DEIS and will intersect the crest of the Santa Rita Mountains.

* The removal of nine miles of under-drains from beneath the waste rock and tailings piles.

* The addition of a proposed compliance dam.

* The deletion of the heap leach pad for processing approximately 70 million tons of oxide ore that would be treated as waste rock, raising the potential of acid drainage.

Huckleberry also states the Forest Service has the responsibility to “rigorously explore” Rosemont’s proposal to have a much higher than needed high voltage power line extended to the mine site.

“The ability to draw more water and power needed to process additional ore with the larger line needs to be evaluated under cumulative impacts,” Huckleberry stated.

Rosemont wants to construct a 138 kV transmission line that, according to Huckleberry, has excess capacity of “several hundred megawatts” of power, “adequate to support all four mines in the affected environment.”

In addition to the Rosemont claim, Augusta owns three other mining claims in close proximity: Broadtop Butte, Copper World and Peach-Elgin.

The extra power, and Rosemont’s ability to pump unlimited amount of groundwater, raises concerns that the company is installing the infrastructure necessary to expand mining to the three other claims.

Augusta has already stated in regulatory filings that Broadtop Butte could “potentially be added as a satellite development” to the Rosemont mine.

Huckleberry also noted that Rosemont’s plans to abandon underdrains and the addition of a new compliance dam “will trigger a significant amendment of Rosemont’s Aquifer Protection Permit (APP).”

The state Department of Environmental Quality issued Rosemont an APP last spring. The permit, however, has been appealed by mine opponents.

Huckleberry said the APP as issued falls short in protecting the environment because it does not regulate the pit lake that will be created after the pit intersects the groundwater table.

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2 Responses to Pima County joins Grijalva and Barber calling for new Rosemont Draft Environmental Impact Statement

  1. Jill Hanson says:

    This is just another “bait and switch” tactic by Augusta Resource. They say whatever is needed to get what they want because they have no intention of being around when it comes time to make good on their promises. By that time they’ll have flipped the mine ownership and cleanup responsibility on the new owner or the taxpayers, just as they did in Sardinia, Italy.

  2. ALAN JOHNSON says:

    GOVERNMENT DECISION MAKING APPEARS TO HAVE TAKEN A BACK SEAT IN THIS PROLONGED VERY MESSY PROCESS REGARDING AUGUSTA’S SUBMISSION AND APPLICATION FOR A MINING PERMIT . IN A PROPERLY REGULATED COURT OF LAW , RULINGS ARE MADE BASED ON THE EVIDENCE AS SUBMITTED BEFORE THE DELIBERATIONS BEGIN . AUGUSTA HAS BEEN USING THE ” REVOLVING DOOR ” APPROACH BY CHANGING THEIR PLANS AS AND WHEN IT SUITS THEM . THIS RESULTS IN TOTAL CONFUSION AMONGST THOSE MANDATED TO REVIEW THE EVIDENCE AND TO MAKE A DECISION . IT IS TIME TO PULL THE PLUG AND TELL AUGUSTA TO GO ELSEWHERE .