Augusta Resource Corp. the Vancouver, B.C. parent company of Rosemont Copper Co., is misleading the public, investors and Canadian regulators over the authority the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has in issuing a crucial Clean Water Act Permit needed to build the proposed Rosemont open pit copper mine.
Before mining can begin, Rosemont Copper must obtain a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
This permit is necessary because the mine and waste rock dumped on more than 3,000 acres of U.S National Forest would destroy many washes and perennial streams that flow from the Santa Rita Mountains.
Augusta knows that the U.S. EPA can veto a Section 404 permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers. And, the company knows that U.S. EPA Region IX has recommended to the the Forest Service that its current Mine Plan of Operations not be approved because of serious environmental damage that would result.
Augusta, however, has failed to clearly state to regulators, investors and the public that a major U.S. regulatory agency opposed to the project also has veto authority over a permit that is absolutely necessary to build the mine.
In fact, Augusta claims in multiple press releases and in regulatory filings that EPA merely has an “advisory” role in issuing the 404 permit.
For example, in a Jan. 23, 2012 press release, Augusta stated:
“Although the EPA plays an important advisory role in the 404 permit application process, the agency does not actually issue a permit during this process, the permitting role is reserved for the ACOE [Army Corps of Engineers].”
A month later, Augusta changed the language slightly but still implied that EPA’s role was secondary. A Feb. 23, 2012 press release stated:
“In addition to the final comments on the draft EIS, the EPA is continuing its role to provide comment on the ACOE’s 404 permit application for Rosemont Copper.”
By early summer, Augusta returned to its earlier language in a June 30, 2012 Management Discussion and Analysis report with two statements:
“As part of the comment process, the EPA, as an advisory agency, submitted letters to the ACOE identifying the Rosemont permit as a candidate for review by the EPA and ACOE.”
“Although the EPA plays an important advisory role in the 404 permit application process, the agency does not actually issue the permit, which is reserved for the ACOE.”
In late August, the company suddenly dropped the “advisory” role language and is now acknowledging the EPA is ultimately responsible for issuing the Clean Water Act Permit.
But there’s no mention of the dreaded “V” word. Buried deep in a highly technical Aug. 28, 2012 feasibility study (large file), Augusta states on page 215:
“Because implementation and enforcement of the CWA is ultimately the responsibility of the EPA, the EPA can influence the Corps’ permitting decisions.”
Unless investors, regulators and the public read every report issued by Augusta in detail, very few would know that the Company is now backing off its often repeated, misleading assertions that EPA is merely advisory agency.
But Augusta has yet to publicly disclose the truth: EPA has veto authority over the Section 404 Clean Water Act permit.