More than a month after the Rosemont Mine received its final permit to begin operations, the Pima County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution opposing the project on a 3-2 vote.
The resolution, passed by the three Democratic members of the board, charges that several performance criteria for the mine have not been met. Water, wildlife and cultural concerns were among the issues mentioned in the resolution.
District 4 Supervisor Steve Christy, a Republican, blasted the resolution before the vote, saying the county has waged an “all-out war” in its opposition of the mine, which took 12 years to get approval.
The lawsuits and interference against the project from the county “must stop now,” he said.
He cited jobs, tax revenues and the numerous studies and agencies that have approved Rosemont as evidence that it's time to move forward.
District 1 Republican Supervisor Ally Miller agreed, saying the project’s owners, Hudbay Minerals, have implemented mitigation techniques, and that the project would bring in charitable contributions as well as needed jobs and tax revenue.
She said the resolution would be “another black eye” for the county and send the message to other businesses that they are “rolling the dice” when attempting to relocate here.
District 3 Supervisor Sharon Bronson said that it was “unacceptable” that the Army Corps of Engineers, which last month issued the final permit required for the project to proceed, made its decision without evaluating all the evidence.
Many of the areas of study were “outside the scope of analysis” of the Corps’ review, even though it had analyzed them previously, she said.
“It’s not real science,” she said.
District 5 Supervisor Richard Elías said that although Arizona is a mining state, “we’ve given too much.” He said the $150 million in proposed mitigation efforts “doesn’t even come close” to what’s needed to protect the public. He also noted the numerous Native American tribes that oppose the project, citing ancestral burial lands and other cultural and historical importance.
“Desecration of this magnitude is unnecessary, uncalled for and immoral,” Elías said.
District 2 Supervisor Ramón Valadez said the standards that the county had placed on the mine years ago were ignored, and he questioned how the project would address water issues.
“There are a lot of holes with this project, too many issues,” he said. “Until some are remedied, it’s hard to support this.”
Among other directives, the resolution directs county staff to:
• “take all necessary measures to protect the health, safety and welfare of people using the air and water resources affected by the mine,”
• asks congressional representatives “to work on legislation that requires federal agencies to comply with local standards,” and
• “request Hudbay convey acquired water rights in the Cienega Basin to Pima County or the Regional Flood Control District.”
Andrew Paxton 520-547-9747