Compromise is not a solution to proposed Rosemont Mine
TO: The Editor
FROM: Leslie Kramer, former President, Sonoita Chamber of Commerce
Nancy McCoy, former president, Patagonia Area Business Association
RE: “Rosemont Mine fight is all about ranting and not about problem solving,” Hugh Holub opinion, Sept. 6 issue
As members of the business community of Sonoita, Patagonia, and Elgin, we understand
of course, that the Rosemont Copper Company owns land in the Santa Rita Mountains. They own 900+ acres and if they were planning to limit their open pit mine to that property, they would have every right to do so. However, their proposal is to use nearly 4,000 acres of public land in the Coronado National Forest on which they want to dump waste piles that would be upwards of 30 stories high and would spread over several square miles. The piles would essentially fill the valley and destroy it forever.
The Rosemont Valley is a popular place. On virtually every weekend it is visited by campers, picnickers, hikers, bicyclists and ATV riders. It is much used, in season, by hunters. It is also the location of about 100 prehistoric sites. If the Rosemont copper project is allowed to proceed, this valley and its natural and cultural landscape will literally be buried under thousands of tons of waste rock.
We also want to point out that the economies of Sonoita, Elgin and Patagonia are based on ranching, wineries and a variety of businesses relating to recreation and tourism such as restaurants, B&B’s and specialty shops. The only way to reach our area from Tucson and Phoenix is to drive down Arizona Highway 83, a beautiful, two-lane state scenic route. We are very concerned about the many negative impacts this proposed mine would have: air pollution, traffic congestion and safety, depressed real estate values and a just plain ugly view – to name a few.
As to water use, of course there are other water users in the Upper Santa Cruz Valley. There are communities like Green Valley and Sahuarita, agricultural users and existing mines on the west side. However, Rosemont would be a NEW user. The company wants to pump groundwater from an already depleted water table. Unfortunately, it has the right to do so because mining is the only enterprise exempt from state law regulating groundwater withdrawals. Yes, a permit is required, but it is a “non-discretionary” permit. This means that the state does not have the right to say “no.” So, in the future, if Rosemont’s proposed “dry tailings” method does not work, it will be able to drill more and deeper wells, lowering the water table even farther.
With respect to the issue of Central Arizona Project (CAP) water, it is certainly true that much better use should be made of Rosemont’s current allocation. Rosemont dumps their CAP allocation north of Marana, a practice that has no benefit for the greater Tucson area. What is the availability of CAP water as drought continues and demand for CAP water increases? Many CAP users – municipalities, for example – have a higher priority than Rosemont. There is simply no guarantee that the Green Valley area will ever be adequately compensated for the removal of 6000 – 8000 acre feet per year of valuable ground water. That is enough water to supply the residential needs of 32,000 people. This kind of pumping is a huge risk that must be borne by both present and future residential, agricultural and commercial users.
As to the tailings piles being visible from Green Valley: They will not be visible. However, Gil Clausen, president of Rosemont’s parent company, noted in World Mining Stocks (September 2007) that “although developing Rosemont was clearly the company’s primary focus, the three other properties (on the Santa Rita ridgeline and on the west slope of the mountains) offered future opportunities for exploration.” Thus, if Rosemont is approved for the east side of the Santa Ritas, it is certainly possible that the mining operation could be expanded over the ridge to the west. If that occurs, massive tailings would indeed be visible from Green Valley.
Finally, although compromise and negotiation are frequently productive ways to resolve difficult issues, they are not the solution in this case. Mr. Holub’s assertion that Rosemont should buy some other environmentally sensitive land and donate it to Pima County does nothing to offset the negative impacts of this proposed mine. Nor does this proposed solution do anything for all that will be affected by the proposed mine in Santa Cruz County.
It is important to remember that the proposed Rosemont mine is very unpopular. It is opposed by virtually every jurisdiction in this part of the state including Pima and Santa Cruz Counties, the City of Tucson, the Tohono O’odham Nation, numerous legislators and Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords and Congressman Raul Grijalva. Thousands of individuals have signed petitions opposing the mine.
The solution to this problem is not some kind of “negotiated” settlement. Rosemont Copper must not be allowed to mine in the Santa Rita Mountains. The future of our community, our economy, our clean air, and our water depends on this decision.
Copyright © 2010 Inside Tucson Business
The Truth About Copper
Submitted by Marshall Magruder, June 28th, 2010 to the Arizona Daily Star
You article, “Rosemont stressing copper’s greenness” included a Rosemont Copper flier “How Rosemont Fits into the Green Economy.” There are some corrections to Rosemont Copper’s position that need to be made.
Rosemont says: “New transmission lines for renewable energy will require millions of tons of copper.” Transmission lines today use NO COPPER. Aluminum is used because it is lighter—requiring fewer poles, stronger because steel-reinforced, and cheaper. Aluminum, not copper, is most commonly used in powerlines to customers and in their homes and buildings.
Rosemont Copper’s line about “millions of tons of copper” is also a gross overstatement. According to the Copper Development Association, the total 2009 US copper production was 1,299,000 tons, much less than the “millions of tons.” Any new mine would not produce anywhere near “millions of tons,” nor is that much needed.
Further, the statement about solar photovoltaic panels, such as the girl in the ad is holding, is also misleading. Silicon is the primary resource in photovoltaic panels. The frames are aluminum. Very little copper is used.
Turbines in coal, gas, and nuclear power plants are made of steel, not copper. The electric generators usually have copper wire around iron or steel magnetic material. This is true for any power source.
Let’s avoid false and erroneous statements. Rosemont Copper should retract their misleading, to say the least, statements.
Please see the Standard Handbook for Electrical Engineers to verify that transmission; distribution and feeder lines and solar panels do NOT use copper.