Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 7, 2017

Contact: Randy Serraglio, (520) 784-1504,

Forest Service Issues Premature Approval of Rosemont Mine

Other Permits Required Before Mining Can Begin

TUCSON, Ariz.— The U.S. Forest Service today signaled its approval of the proposed Rosemont open-pit copper mine, despite the fact that key permits and reviews are lacking.

The Coronado National Forest, where the mine would be located, gave preliminary approval to the controversial project three years ago. A final decision was withheld pending outstanding permitting reviews, including a Clean Water Act permit that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has recommended for denial.

The Forest Service issued a record of decision today approving the mine even though it still must complete more steps before mining can begin, including approval of a revised mine plan of operations and bonding for the project. The proposed mine would blast a mile-wide, 3,000-foot deep pit in the Santa Rita Mountains of southern Arizona and bury thousands of acres of public land in more than a billion tons of toxic waste.

“The Forest Service's announcement is premature to the point of being meaningless,” said Randy Serraglio, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This fake decision is motivated by politics and corruption. It's a hollow paperwork maneuver that will certainly be challenged. This huge mine is just too dangerous to get a free pass.”

The mine's footprint lies squarely in jaguar critical habitat, land that's been scientifically determined to be critically important for the survival and recovery of jaguars in the United States. The mine would destroy much of the home territory of the famous jaguar El Jefe, who was photographed more than 100 times in the Santa Ritas over three years.

“Forest Service officials have said repeatedly that they would approve the Rosemont Mine only if it complied with all other applicable laws,” Serraglio said. “Apparently, with the Trump administration, promises are meant to be broken. The American people, public lands and wildlife deserve better.”

More than a dozen imperiled species could be harmed by the mine, including ocelot that have been photographed immediately adjacent to the mine site and endangered fish and frogs living in nearby Cienega Creek. The creek could be dried up by the mine's vast groundwater pumping. The Cienega Creek watershed also provides up to 20 percent of the annual natural recharge in Tucson's groundwater basin, a vital resource that could be polluted and significantly diminished by the mine.

“Other than handing a PR coup to a foreign mining company, there's no reason for the Forest Service to issue this decision at this time,” said Serraglio. “It's a slap in the face to other agencies that are still carefully considering the devastating impacts of this proposal. There are still far too many unanswered questions about Rosemont and the dire threat it poses to our water, air, and wildlife.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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