Rosemont Mine Permitting Process Far From Over

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Contrary to Augusta Resource Corporation’s misrepresentations to potential investors and others that it only needs one more permit to begin construction of the massive Rosemont  Copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson, the Vancouver, B.C.-based junior mining company is far from crossing the regulatory finish line and its future remains very much in doubt.

Mine opponents have filed legal appeals challenging the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s issuance of the Aquifer Protection Permit and Air Pollution Permit to Augusta’s subsidiary, Rosemont Copper Company.

The Aquifer Protection Permit, issued by the ADEQ in 2012, is still under appeal on the grounds that it fails to protect area groundwater supplies. The Arizona Water Quality Appeals Board has not yet ruled on the appeal.

Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, a Tucson-based coalition opposed to the mine, filed legal notice Thursday appealing ADEQ’s issuance of an air pollution permit to Rosemont. The legal notice states that ADEQ based the permit on a mine plan that Rosemont withdrew last summer and that Rosemont manipulated data in computer modeling to reduce projected emissions.

Contrary to Augusta’s claims, its Rosemont Copper Company subsidiary final regulatory approval is pending for its air and water permits.

In addition, Augusta still needs Rosemont to obtain the following permits and regulatory approvals:

  • The US Forest Service must complete a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and issue a Record of Decision on the proposed mile-wide, half-mile deep pit that will dump poisonous waste rock and tailings on more than 3,000 acres of National Forest. In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency gave Rosemont’s draft EIS its lowest possible rating and concluded that it was one of the worst EIS’s ever reviewed. The Forest Service process has been delayed in large part by Rosemont’s failure to provide requested information and by the company’s decision to dramatically change its mining proposal in July 2012.
  • The US Army Corps of Engineers must issue a Clean Water Act  Section 404 permit that allows Rosemont to pollute area waterways. As with the EIS, the Environmental Protection Agency concluded in 2012 that the Rosemont Mine would cause “significant degradation” of area waterways, including “substantial and unacceptable impacts” to Davidson Canyon and Cienega Creek.
  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) must issue a Biological Opinion assessing whether the Rosemont Mine would jeopardize nearly a dozen threatened and endangered species, including the jaguar, ocelot and southwestern willow flycatcher. In addition, the FWS is in the process of designating critical habitat for both jaguars and the southwestern willow flycatcher that may include the Rosemont Mine site. A male jaguar has been repeatedly photographed in close proximity to the mine site.  Federal agencies are not allowed to approve actions that destroy or adversely modify critical habitat for endangered species. The Arizona Department of Game and Fish had previously concluded that the Rosemont Mine “will render the northern portion of the Santa Rita Mountains virtually worthless as wildlife habitat and as a functioning ecosystem, and thus also worthless for wildlife recreation.
  • The Forest Service must also consult with the State Historic Preservation Office and, potentially, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to ensure that the Rosemont Mine doesn’t adversely affect historic and cultural sites, including traditional lands of the Tohono O’odham Nation and other Native American Tribes.
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4 Responses to Rosemont Mine Permitting Process Far From Over

  1. Greg Shinsky says:

    This has been the playbook used by mining companies for the past 50 years. Misleading statements, skewed facts, and outright lies. We stand against Rosemont and their parent company Augusta Resources. Copper is a necessary commodity, but mining copper in the Santa Rita Mountains cannot be allowed. The welfare of 1 million people in Pima County is at stake. Our water supply is finite and our air is some of the cleanest in America. To live, work and play in the Tucson area would be forever diminished if the Rosemont Mine were permitted. Greg Shinsky – SSSR

  2. Rosemont copper is in the midst of PR work concerning the Arizona trail. They are trying to influence the local citizens with a PR job concerning moving of the trail. The story in the Arizona daily Star leads one to believe it’s a new concept to move the Arizona trail when actually it’s been in the proposed mine plan of operation for years.

    Rosemont copper PR personnel, public relations, are very adept at utilizing half truths and misdirection. You have to remember that this is a company that tried to use the lie that they created stating (that they were the number two tourist attraction in the state of Arizona). That was Rod pace and Dan Ryan on network television.

  3. ALAN JOHNSON says:

    THE PROCEDURES BEING FOLLOWED IN DECIDING WHETHER OR NOT THE ROSEMONT PROSPECT WILL BECOME A MINE ARE EXTREMELY CUMBERSOME AND CONVOLUTED . IT APPEARS THAT NUMEROUS OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AT A VARIETY OF LEVELS(FEDERAL , STATE , COUNTY , MUNICIPAL) HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE DECISIONS AND ISSUE PERMITS BUT THERE DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE AN INTEGRATED STRATEGY AMONGST THE PARTICIPANTS TO WORK TOGETHER ON A PRIORITY BASIS . THE MOST CRITICAL PERMIT SHOULD BE DEALT WITH FIRST AND IF THIS FAILS , ALL SUBSEQUENT PERMITS BECOME NULL AND VOID . A LOT OF TAX PAYERS MONEY AND TIME IS BEING WASTED PROCESSING PERMIT APPLICATIONS WHICH , IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS , MAY BE IRRELEVANT . THE DECISION FOR A MINING LICENSE SHOULD COME FROM ONE AUTHORITY ALONE AND THIS AUTHORITY SHOULD HAVE THE ABILITY TO EVALUATE ALL ASPECTS OF THE APPLICATION FOR A MINING LICENSE . GOVERNMENT AGENCIES MAY BE INVITED TO PROVIDE INPUT INTO THE COLLECTIVE DECISION MAKING PROCESS . ROSEMONT’S PR TEAM IS TAKING FULL ADVANTAGE OF THIS CURRENT CUMBERSOME SYSTEM WHICH ALSO KEEPS INVESTORS GUESSING .

  4. Alan,
    in a perfect world that is how our government would function, intelligently, unwavering in its quest for justice, with speed and foresight, with fairness and honesty.

    In actuality we are blessed with the government that is none of the above. Our politicians are influenced by campaign contributions, our government agencies are swamped with more work than they can ever handle, and their personal decisions affect fairness aspect of their regulation.

    We have to do with what we have and have to deal with the fallacies and shortcomings of government and individual personalities that are in positions of authority. Examples run rampant through the government agencies in their dealings with Rosemont copper.