As expected, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service today issued a biological opinion that Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals’ proposed massive Rosemont open-pit copper mine “is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence” of a dozen threatened and endangered species including the only known wild jaguar in the U.S. Release of the opinion clears the way for other federal agencies to make crucial regulatory decisions on the ultimate fate of the Rosemont project.
“For years, the Fish and Wildlife Service has issued biological opinions that have been successfully challenged in Federal Court, and we expect that is what will happen here,” said Gayle Hartmann, President of Save the Scenic Santa Ritas. “The Rosemont project will destroy the habitat of endangered species with its half-mile deep open pit and mine waste piles stacked 600-800 feet high spread over five square miles of the Coronado National Forest.”
Rather than stopping the mine, the biological opinion calls for “reasonable and prudent measures” to minimize mine impacts including some that are left to the discretion of relevant agencies.
The FWS biological opinion is in stark contrast to the views of the other wildlife managers. The Arizona Game and Fish Department concluded: “the [Rosemont Copper] project 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.”