Welcome to Save the Scenic Santa Ritas!
Save the Scenic Santa Ritas is a non-profit organization working to protect the Santa Rita and Patagonia Mountains from environmental degradation caused by mining and mineral exploration activities. Our current activities focus on the proposed Rosemont Copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains.
Press Release: November 27, 2013
Rosemont Mine "Not a Done Deal"
(TUCSON, ARIZ) The U.S. Forest Service today announced that it was posting the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed Rosemont Mine on its website for public review. However, the Forest Service also indicated that it was not releasing the draft Record of Decision (ROD) until mid-December. The Forest Service will not issue a final decision until well into 2014 after the public has had an opportunity to review this latest proposal and the agency addresses any objections that are raised. In addition, there are other regulatory approvals that must be obtained before the mine can proceed, including a critical water permit that the EPA recently recommended be denied.
Canadian junior mining company Augusta Resource Corp., through its Rosemont Copper Co. subsidiary, is seeking approval to blast a mile-wide, half-mile deep open pit mine in the Santa Rita Mountains just south of Tucson. Augusta also wants permission to bury more than four square miles of the Coronado National Forest under 600-800 feet of potentially toxic mining wastes that threaten critical southern Arizona water supplies.
"Despite what Rosemont Copper would like its investors to believe, this mine is not a done deal, not even close" said Gayle Hartmann, President of Save the Scenic Santa Ritas. "Just this past week, we learned that EPA concluded that this project would cause a ‘substantial and unacceptable impact’ to critical watersheds. It’s rather remarkable that according to published reports, the Coronado National Forest Supervisor would admit they are rushing this analysis out the door without addressing such a critical issue. And that's just one of the serious problems that local, state and federal agencies have told the Forest Service it needs to address. The damage this mine would cause to our water supplies, wildlife and economy is so serious that the Forest Service should have listened to its partner agencies and issued a new or revised analysis instead.”
In addition to the 120-day period for the Forest Service to review and address objections to its analysis and draft decision, Rosemont still needs multiple permits before they can begin blasting. Not only are Rosemont's state air and water pollution permits under appeal, but the company hasn't yet received a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers that would allow the dumping of mine wastes into area waterways. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has veto authority over that permit, recently recommended that it be denied. In a November 7 letter sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, EPA stated the Rosemont mine would have “substantial and unacceptable impact to aquatic resources of national importance, including the ‘Outstanding Waters’ of Davidson Canyon and Cienega Creek” and recommended that this permit be denied.
Moreover, the EPA, whose responsibilities include reviewing environmental impact statements undertaken pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), has been highly critical of the Forest Service's work on Rosemont. In 2012, EPA said that the original Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Rosemont was one of the weakest environmental studies for a major mining project ever submitted. EPA’s Region IX Administrator sent a letter to the Coronado National Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch stating that the Rosemont’s DEIS was “environmentally unsatisfactory,” that pollution from the mine would pose an unacceptable “risk to human health and the environment” and that the Forest Service should correct the deficiencies by issuing a revised or supplemental DEIS.
“Throughout this entire process, the Forest Service has capitulated to Rosemont’s foreign owners and investors," said Gayle Hartmann, President of Save the Scenic Santa Ritas. "Meanwhile Rosemont, which is planning to ship the copper overseas, won't pay a dime in royalties to American taxpayers and will leave southern Arizonans to cope with the mine's devastating environmental and economic impacts. Because all of its negative consequences, we believe this mine will never happen.”
Press Release: November 20, 2013
EPA Recommends Against Federal Water Permit for Rosemont Mine
Mine would cause "substantial and unacceptable impact" to southern Arizona water supplies
(TUCSON, Ariz.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has dealt a dramatic and potentially devastating blow to Augusta Resource Corporation's proposal to build the Rosemont mine, a massive open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains just south of Tucson.
In a Nov. 7 letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA recommended that the proposed Rosemont copper mine should not receive a permit that would allow the company to dump potentially toxic mine wastes into area waterways.
After completing a comprehensive and detailed analysis, EPA concluded that Rosemont's proposals to mitigate the mine's severe and permanent damage to area water supplies are "scientifically flawed" and "grossly inadequate," and advised the Corps of Engineers that the project "should not be permitted as proposed."
The EPA's recommendation to deny Rosemont's permit application is a potentially devastating blow to the mining project because EPA has veto authority over the permit, which would be issued by the Corps of Engineers only if the proposed mine meets Clean Water Act standards. The permit is required before construction could begin on the mile-wide, half-mile deep open pit mine.
EPA was highly critical of all three components of Rosemont's mitigation proposal, undermining the company's high-profile attempts to claim that the mine will comply with environmental standards. In particular, EPA said that it agreed with the Corps of Engineers that two of the three sites Rosemont was proposing to acquire (Sonoita Creek Ranch and Mulberry Canyon) "would not provide appropriate compensatory mitigation for impacts to waters from the Rosemont Mine project."
With respect to the third proposed Rosemont mitigation acquisition (water rights and land below Pantano Dam), the EPA indicated that it might have some mitigation value for a much smaller project ("e.g., flood control or highway project") but "is inadequate compensation for impacts proposed to be permitted at Rosemont Mine."
EPA's recommendation to deny the Clean Water Act permits comes at an inopportune time for Augusta Resource, Rosemont Copper's parent company. Its stock is hovering at a 52-week low and the company reported less than $750,000 in cash reserves as of Sept. 30, according to regulatory filings released last week.
Augusta's cash crisis raises serious questions as to whether Augusta will have the financial capacity to secure technical expertise to address EPA's latest criticisms of the crucial Clean Water Act permit.
The full EPA letter and analysis can be downloaded at:
Press Release: October 31, 2013
“Cyanide Beach” documentary wins “Best Education Film” at Yosemite International Film Festival
InvestigativeMEDIA is pleased to announce that its documentary film “Cyanide Beach” has been named “Best Education Film” in the 2013 Yosemite International Film Festival. The Yosemite festival awards recognition for some of the world's finest and most visionary independent films made by many of the leading contemporary artists and creative minds working in cinema and screenwriting today.
Watch Cyanide Beach, an explosive documentary from award-winning investigative journalist, John Dougherty. The film chronicles the deceptive business tactics of top executives at Augusta Resource Corporation - owner of Rosemont Copper - when they owned and operated an open-pit gold mine in Sardinia Italy from 2003-07. You’ll see their trail of unpaid vendors, a misspent government loan, hidden investors, and a toxic mess that locals call "Cyanide Beach."
Learn more at Dougherty’s Investigative Media website.
Press Release: Oct. 15, 2013
Save the Scenic Santa Ritas releases Investor Update on Augusta Resource Corporation
Today, Save the Scenic Santa Ritas (SSSR), a non-profit environmental organization comprised of ranchers, small business owners and community members opposing the proposed massive Rosemont open-pit copper mine released an Investor Update on Augusta Resource. This Investor Update can be accessed by clicking here.
Augusta Resource, a junior Canadian mining company, is seeking through its Rosemont Copper subsidiary, permits to build a massive open-pit copper mine on 4,000-acres in the Santa Rita Mountains on the Coronado National Forest just south of Tucson.
This Investor Update provides current and potential investors with essential information that the company may not have provided in its investor relations efforts. It is not intended to provide investment advice, but rather to share critical information upon which to base future decisions.
The Investor Update describes important actions concerning Augusta’s proposal, provides an overview of the company and the questionable background of key officers, and identifies unresolved regulatory issues that could block approval of the mine. The information in the update is robustly sourced having been derived from regulatory records, Augusta Resource’s financial filings, and technical reports and various media accounts.
The proposed mine would have devastating impacts on Southern Arizona’s water, air, wildlife and economy and there is unprecedented opposition. Political, business, tribal and environmental leaders have joined with citizens from all walks of life to oppose this project. Their opposition is based on its impacts to the quality of life and economy of both current and future Southern Arizona residents and businesses.
Because of its devastating impacts on the Santa Rita Mountains and threats to regional water resources, BankTrack, a global network that tracks the environmental impacts of the financial sector is closely following the proposed Rosemont Copper mine. Click here to read the BankTrack report on the Rosemont project.
SSSR is a non-profit organization working to protect the Santa Rita and Patagonia Mountains from environmental degradation caused by mining and mineral exploration activities. Our current activities are focused on the proposed Rosemont Copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains.
Press Release: Sept. 16, 2013
Forest Service Makes the Right Call on Rosemont Mine