For Immediate Release, May 16, 2014
Contact: Randy Serraglio, (520) 784-1504
Army Corps of Engineers Deals Potentially Fatal Blow to Rosemont Mine Project
TUCSON, Ariz.— The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded this week that that a mitigation plan by the Rosemont Copper Company — required to comply with a Clean Water Act permit — is inadequate and doesn’t do enough to protect regional water supplies, wildlife habitat, natural springs and wetlands. In the letter sent to the company this week, the Corps explains that it will close the books on more than a year’s worth of work with the company to develop an adequate mitigation plan and pivot toward a final decision on Rosemont’s permit application.
“This determination puts the tremendously damaging, highly controversial Rosemont Mine Project on hospice alert,” said Randy Serraglio, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s very difficult to imagine a scenario in which this project could proceed. The grave threat it poses to southern Arizona’s dwindling water resources is simply too great.”
The mitigation plan is meant to help offset the open-pit mine’s extensive environmental damage. The Corps’ letter, though, says the company’s final mitigation plan “would not fully compensate for the unavoidable adverse impacts” of the proposed mine and that the “shortfall in compensation” stems from “limited” environmental benefits and “the limited amount of restoration and enhancement of actual waters of the United States.”
“This is just the latest blow to this troubled project,” Serraglio said. “Other permits the company needs are mired in appeals and litigation, and with each new development in this saga it becomes clearer that there’s no way to construct this mine without harming the people and wildlife of southern Arizona.”
The Corps’s letter also says that it’s offering this determination “to assist the U.S. Forest Service in their decision making process” for the proposed project. The Forest Service is in the final stages of its analysis of the mine, as it considers hundreds of formal objections from a broad array of concerned citizens, government agencies and organizations that oppose the Service’s draft decision to allow the mine to proceed.
“The Forest Service has said repeatedly that it must approve the Rosemont Mine as long as it complies with applicable laws, yet here is a prime example of how this project fails to do that,” said Serraglio. “These laws exist to protect the health of the American people and our beautiful landscapes and wildlife from undue harm. The law is clear: It’s time for the Forest Service to admit that this mine cannot proceed.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.