From the Arizona Daily Star June 2, 2011:
Draft document says agency’s options are limited
By Tony Davis
Approval of Rosemont Mine is proposed by the U.S. Forest Service in its draft environmental impact statement.
The document states: “The actions proposed in this DEIS are for the development of the Rosemont ore deposit owned by Rosemont Copper in a manner that does the following: complies with federal, state and local laws and regulations, reduces adverse environmental impacts on national forest lands, is without undue or unnecessary degradation of lands administered by the BLM, takes into consideration impacts to waters of the U.S.
“Rosement Copper is entitled to conduct operations that are reasonably incidental to exploration and development of mineral deposits on its mining claims, pursuant to U.S. mining laws.”
“The proposed action is to approve the preliminary MPO (mine plan of operations) for construction, operation with concurrent reclamation and closure of an open-pit copper, molybdeum and silver mine.”
Davis at the Star also got a copy of the summary of the DEIS which is supposedly not for public release…click here to the Star for the pdf.
U.S. Forest Service delivers Rosemont Preliminary Draft EIS
to State and Local Agencies
Denver, CO, June 1, 2011 – Augusta Resource Corporation (TSX/NYSE Amex: AZC) (“Augusta” or the “Company”) announces that printed and electronic copies of the preliminary draft Environment Impact Statement (“EIS”) have been delivered by the Coronado National Forest to the State of Arizona and local Cooperating Agencies for final review. The Cooperating Agencies have been mandated with 30 days to provide their final comments on the draft EIS as part of the federal government National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) process. This is in line with the U.S. Forest Service’s (“USFS”) previously announced schedule guidance of August 2011 for the draft EIS to be available for public comment under NEPA regulations.
The Record of Decision (“ROD”) for the Rosemont Copper project appears on track for January 2012 and in-line with previous USFS guidance allowing for a 90 day public comment period after the publication of the draft EIS in August 2011.
“With the preliminary draft EIS now delivered to the cooperating agencies we are one major step closer to the ROD,” said Gil Clausen, Augusta’s president and CEO. “We are pleased with the progress the USFS has been able to attain in the past several months and expect that they will be able to meet their objective for releasing the draft EIS to the public this August.”
Augusta is a base metals company focused on advancing the Rosemont Copper deposit near Tucson, Arizona. Rosemont hosts a large copper/molybdenum reserve that may account for about 10% of US copper output once in production in 2013 (for details refer to www.augustaresource.com). The exceptional experience and strength of Augusta’s management team, combined with the developed infrastructure and robust economics of the Rosemont project, will propel Augusta to become a solid mid-tier copper producer. The Company is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the NYSE Amex under the symbol AZC.
COMMENT: Those familiar with the mining laws of this country have long known that the US Forest Service cannot legally say “no mine” in the Coronado National Forest in spite of what local opponents to the proposed Rosemont copper mine claim.
What the environmental impact statement process is about is to identify environmental impact issues. Period.
Right now there is a “draft environmental impact statement” (DEIS) which has been forwarded to local and state governmental interests such as Pima County. The government interests have 30 days to file comments, then there will be a second draft of the EIS released to the public for their comment. The public will have 90 days to comment at that point.
After the second draft is commented on, then the Forest Service would issue a Final environmental impact statement.
In the current phase on can expect lots of comments from opponents to the mine and from Pima County that the draft environmental statement does not go far enough in cataloging the negative impacts of the mine project claimed by mine opponents.
Once there is an inventory of environmental impacts then the federal agency (in this case the US Forest Service) then goes about crafting a use permit taking into account the environmental impact issues.
Just because there are negative environmental impacts noted in an environmental impact statement does not mean a proposed project is automatically killed.
In this case the US Forest Service cannot just say “no mine”.
What will happen is the Forest Service will propose a use permit that says “yes…you can do your mine…but subject to the following list of conditions.”
For instance…if the environmental impact statement identifies impact of groundwater pumping to de-water the pit as a negative impact on downstream forest lands and neighbors….the Forest Service would likely have permit conditions requiring Rosemont to mitigate those impacts.
And then Rosemont either agrees to those conditions or doesn’t.
What has been starkly missing in the local media coverage and debate about the proposed Rosemont copper mine project is any recognition that Rosemont actually is willing to step up to the plate and work on mitigation issues.
One significant example…which I was directly involved in as pro bono attorney for over 100 families with private wells west of Green Valley…was to mitigate the impacts of Rosemont’s well field on neighboring private wells. An agreement which is unprecedented in Arizona water history was entered into whereby Rosemont must mitigate its pumping impacts on neighboring private wells.
Rosemont has also proposed to participate in a CAP groundwater recharge project in Green Valley…something it legally does not have to do…but is the right thing to do for regional water management.
FICO, one of the largest users of groundwater in Green Valley and Pima County have fought Rosemont’s CAP recharge effort.
Betting the water and environmental future of Pima County and Green Valley on a “take no prisoners” opposition to any mine whatsoever is terminally stupid on the part of Pima County.
Pima has taken the side of opposition extremists to the mine and failed to do anything meaningful to try and work on mitigation issues for the broad public interest that would allow this multi-billion dollar economic development opportunity to go forward and benefit Pima County’s environment…like by getting CAP recharge capacity farther south into Green Valley which would benefit all of the area.
Ultimately the Forest Service will negotiate a use permit for the mine…and Pima County and other interests do not have a chair at the table to try and create a “win-win” solution because they’ve drawn a hard line in the sand against the mine.
And we all know what happens to hard lines in the sand when the monsoon comes.
More on the Rosemont mine issue….
Center for Biological Diversity demands Rosemont Mine site be included in protected habitat for frog