Myth: The permitting process for the proposed Rosemont Mine is taking too long.
FACT: First and most importantly, the devastating environmental impacts of the proposed Rosemont Mine are PERMANENT. Rosemont is proposing to dig an open-pit mine that is a half-mile deep and a mile rim-to-rim in the northern Santa Rita Mountains and pile potentially toxic mine waste 600-800 feet high in a watershed that provide 20% of the groundwater recharge for the Tucson basin.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department said that the proposed Rosemont Mine will “render the northern portion of the Santa Rita Mountains virtually worthless as wildlife habitat and as a functioning ecosystem…”
Any amount of time it takes to permit this mine, is inconsequential compared to the length of the impact on the lives of future generations.
Secondly, the actions and inactions of Rosemont and its owners are the major reason for the length of the permitting process for this project.
- Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals Inc., the owner of the Rosemont project, has failed to submit a mitigation plan to compensate for the destruction of wetlands, springs and seeps and important, functioning aquatic resources that meets the Clean Water Act’s requirements under Section 404 of the law. As a result, the Corps’ Los Angeles District Engineer last July recommended that the agency deny this required Clean Water Act permit consistent with repeated warnings by state and federal agencies that the project fails to comply with the law.
- According to published reports in September 2012 (click here), the Coronado National Forest Supervisor requested that his staff review the veracity of information provided to it by Rosemont Copper Company. Specifically, as noted in the article, Rosemont provided information to the Coronado National Forest in early July indicating that dramatic increases in copper reserves would not result in additional water use, truck traffic or air pollution. However, in a subsequent September 12 letter to the Forest Supervisor, Rosemont backpedaled on some of those earlier assertions, thus leading to further questions about the company’s credibility and requiring that more staff resources be employed to investigate these discrepancies.
- In August 2012, Augusta Resource released plans to significantly modify its mine proposal in an updated “Feasibility Study.” The Forest Service cited Augusta’s new plan as a reason to postpone the release of a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and require additional analysis. (Source: click here)
Repeatedly throughout the regulatory consideration of the Rosemont Mine, agency staff criticized Augusta and Rosemont for not providing essential information in a timely manner. Consider these examples from documents released pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
- August 3, 2010 email from the Forest Service’s Debby Kriegel to colleagues said that, “[u]nfortunately, the DEIS schedule and Rosemont’s continued dawdling (we’ve been asking them since January to fund someone to develop recommendations for tree planting) [emphasis in the original] mean that this mitigation measure won’t show up in the DEIS.”
- Notes from a July 27, 2010 Rosemont Team Meeting – The Forest Service noted during a Rosemont Team Meeting that Rosemont was late in providing certain required products was going to delay the project. Specifically, in the meeting notes regarding “Decisions Made” the Forest Service said that “[v]isual analysis- late products from RCC [Rosemont Copper Company] will extend project timeline”
- Notes from a February 2010 Forest Service Rosemont Project Team Meeting – The Forest Service included a specific topic on the meeting outline noting “Timeline delays” and listed the “Reports needed from Rosemont”.
- Notes from an August 11, 2009 Forest Service Rosemont Project Team Meeting – One of the topic discussed included, “Schedule slippage – possible reason include financial negotiation with RCC.”
- Notes from an April 28, 2009 Forest Service Rosemont Project Team Meeting – Under “Topics Discussed” “Alternative and where to go next: Still waiting on Rosemont, SWCA [emphasis in the original] can continue work…” [Note: SWCA is the Forest Service’s NEPA consultant for the Rosemont Project.]
- Notes from a March 24, 2009 Forest Service Rosemont Project Team Meeting – it was noted that with respect to alternatives, that only brainstorming could occur “because team is still waiting on vital reports.” Also, it was decided that the “Forest needs to document repeated requests for reports.”
Source: Forest Service documents (click here.)
Thus, the examples cited above make it clear that Rosemont itself bears considerable responsibility for the length of time the permitting process has taken.
May 8, 2017
Carla Kerekes Martin says
Unbelievable! The Forest Service has it’s own self-interest at heart. They should be ashamed of their behavior in this entire process. Considering the fires in the region and the impact of new erosion factors, much less the devastating consequences of the water usage, not only to the immediate area but to the natural drainage into Tucson, allowing this mine to begin should never have been considered from the outset. On behalf of the Empire Ranch foundation and all of the area surrounding this National Historic area and all of the natural environment surrounding the entire region we strongly protest the Forest Service actions in this matter and are hoping the general public will STAND UP for the importance of our future water supply, area wild life and the protection of our groundwater and all that this mine will effect well into the future.