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The Arizona Mining Reform Coalition is comprised of Arizona groups and individuals that work to ensure that responsible mining contributes to healthy communities, a healthy environment, and, when all costs are factored in, is a net benefit to Arizona. The Arizona Mining Reform Coalition expects the mining industry to clean up after itself, comply fully with the spirit of safeguards in place to protect Arizona, and to interact in a transparent and open manner with Arizona citizens.

Showing the Cracks: New Report Shows Design Flaws in Proposed Resolution Copper Project

Gaan Canyon water

A new report prepared for the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition by Dr. Steven Emerman shows serious flaws and deficiencies in the technical design of Rio Tinto’s proposed Resolution Copper mine. The proposed mine, which would destroy Oak Flat and more than 5,000 additional acres of precious public land, already is known to cause unacceptable and irreparable harm.  The report now shows that the design of the proposed mine is unworkable.

The report concludes that:

  1. Under the best-case scenario, the completed underground mine will encounter geothermal water at a flow rate of 3800 gpm.
  2. Under the best-case scenario, the additional power requirements for mine dewatering and refrigeration will be 24 MW.
  3. The worst-case scenario is difficult to estimate, but if more highly fractured rock is encountered during construction of the underground mine, the additional power requirements could easily be 100 times greater.
  4. The above estimates do not include the additional costs of ventilation, due to gases exsolving from the geothermal water, and corrosion of mine equipment, due to the persistent saturated atmosphere.
  5. The most disturbing issue is the failure of the General Plan of Operations to estimate the total power requirements of the copper mine or to seek any source for power besides the local grid of the Salt River Project.

The report recommends that anyone who is interested in investing in the Resolution Copper Mine or in the companies that are managing the copper mine seek answers to the following questions:

  1. What are the total additional costs associated with the discovery of geothermal water?
  2. What are the total power requirements of the copper project?
  3. How will the consumption of power by the Resolution Copper Mine affect the other consumers of power from the Salt River Project?

Go here for a copy of the report. 

Please tell the EPA to protect precious Arizona groundwater

Please comment now to protect precious Arizona groundwater

The deadline for comments is Tuesday, February 27, 2018, so act now!

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently accepting comments for a draft permit that would allow a brand-new mining company with no track record to pollute Arizona groundwater to extract copper from Arizona grasslands rich in cultural heritage just upstream from the Willcox playa, winter home to thousands of imperiled Sandhill cranes.

The permit would allow the company to drill 1,400 wells and inject over 7,000,000 gallons of sulfuric acid a day into the groundwater. 

In-situ mining is a type of mining that injects acid into the ground to dissolve copper and other minerals.  This toxic solution of copper and acid is then pumped from the ground and processed to remove the copper.  In-situ mining, by definition, is the intentional pollution of ground water.  In-situ mining has long been used to produce uranium but (outside of several existing mines) has never been attempted to mine copper.  No in-situ mine has ever returned the groundwater to pre-mining conditions.

What could possibly go wrong?!!

Please send the EPA comments on this inappropriate project. 

For More Information:
Original comments from a Coalition of groups
Supplemental comments
EPA's project website

 

Updated 2/26/18

Attend public meeting to stop the proposed Gunnison copper mine

The US EPA will be taking public comments at a meeting in Dragoon, AZ from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, on February 27, 2018.

The meeting will be held at the Dragoon Women’s Club, 1871 North Johnson Road, Dragoon, Arizona.

Excelsior Mining is planning an in-situ copper mine on private land near the town of Dragoon and Texas Canyon (between the towns of Benson and Willcox upstream from the Willcox Playa).  Excelsior Mining was formed in 2005 and this is their only mine project.

In-situ mining is a type of mining that injects sulfuric acid into the ground to dissolve copper and other minerals.  This toxic solution of copper and acid is then pumped from the ground and processed to remove the copper.  In-situ mining, by definition, is the intentional pollution of ground water.  In-situ mining has long been used to produce uranium and at several existing copper mines but has never been attempted to mine copper in a greenfields location.  No in-situ mine has ever returned the groundwater to pre-mining conditions.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently taking comments on a draft Underground Injection Control permit that would allow the company to drill 1,400 wells and inject over 7,000,000 gallons of sulfuric acid a day into the groundwater. 

What could possibly go wrong?!!

Please see our sample comments letter to EPA to use for talking points to use if you speak at the public meeting.

If you cannot attend the public meeting, please send the EPA comments.

Thanks,
Roger Featherstone, Director

For More Information:
Talking points
Our comments
Supplemental comments
EPA's project website

 Updated 2/26/18

Appeal hearing of a Rio Tinto permit to pollute Queen Creek begins February 5

Please attend a hearing this week to support the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition’s appeal of permits granted to Rio Tinto to dump polluted water into Queen Creek.  The Coalition has appealed the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s (ADEQ) improper granting of a permit to Rio Tinto.  Queen Creek is already polluted due to mining activity and, if the permit is upheld, Rio Tinto would make the pollution worse.

The hearing will be taking place from Monday, February 5, 2018 to at least Friday, February 9.  The hearing will go all day from 9:00 to 5:00.

The hearing will take place at 1400 W. Washington, Suite 101, Phoenix, AZ

Please drop in at any time (except over the lunch recess) to support our appeal.

Last chance to help us out in 2017

As the clock ticks down, you have only 48 (or so) hours left in 2017 to help us do all we need to do in 2018.  You are critical to the success of our efforts.

The only thing standing in the way of irresponsible mining company’s plans to destroy precious public lands (with the assistance of increasingly lax federal and state mining laws) is the support of folks like you who share our passion for protecting our communities and the environment.

I’m asking you to act today by making a generous tax-deductible gift to the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition.

Your generosity will help us immediately to:

  • Continue to protect Oak Flat against the proposed assault by Rio Tinto and BHP.  We will battle on the federal and state levels and in the courts.  We will educate decision-makers why they must reverse the Oak Flat land exchange. 
  • Continue our work to protect the jaguars, ocelot, and other endangered species that live in the Santa Rita Mountains from the proposed Rosemont mine.  We are working on the federal and state levels and in the courts.  We have sued the US Forest Service for illegally approving the Rosemont mine plan.
  • Continue our work to protect Arizona’s precious waters from proposed in-situ copper mines that, if we are not successful, are sure to pollute aquifers upon which we all depend.
  • Stopping new and dangerous proposals by the state of Arizona to take over the federal government’s programs that regulate the dredging and filling of waters of the United States and programs that regulate underground injection wells used by mining companies to inject dangerous chemicals into aquifers.

We have a mountain of work ahead of us, but with your help, nothing is impossible when we all stand together to protect the rights of vulnerable communities and the natural places we love.

Due to the new federal tax bill just signed into law, this may be the last year you can fully deduct donations to the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition.  If you need an additional incentive to donate, this is it.  Donate now just in case!

Thank you for your support and assistance. 

Sincerely, 

Roger Featherstone, Director

Please visit our convenient online donation page and give generously. If you'd rather send a check, you will find instructions on the donation page as well. Have a wonderful New Year!


Ask your Congresspeople to Co-sponsor the Save Oak Flat Act

On June 15, 2017, the Save Oak Flat Act was introduced in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate.  The Bills would repeal Section 3003 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 and keep Oak Flat in public ownership.

Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) introduced the US House version, HR 2915, with 30 cosponsors from both parties. 

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced S 1375, the Senate version of the Save Oak Flat Act with four cosponsors, Senators Merkley (D-OR), Wyden (D-OR), Heinrich (D-NM), and Booker (D-NJ).

The success of the Save Oak Fat Act is very important for the protection of Oak Flat. 

Please contact your Representative asking him/her to cosponsor HR 2915 and your Senators to cosponsor S 1375.  (If your Congressional delegation members are already cosponsors, please thank him/her for helping to protect Oak Flat).

Attend Forest Service Workshops March 21 & 22

If Rio Tinto gets its way, Benson Spring would be buried under 1.6 billion tons of toxic waste!If Rio Tinto gets its way, Benson Spring would be buried under 1.6 billion tons of toxic waste!Attend public workshops in Superior and Gilbert to tell the Forest Service to protect Oak Flat

The Tonto National Forest is holding public workshops in Superior, AZ, on March 21 and Gilbert, AZ, on March 22. Each workshop runs from 5:00 to 8:00. Please attend these workshops to show the Forest Service that Rio Tinto’s plans to destroy 7,000 acres of public land, including Oak Flat, to build a toxic mine are unacceptable. The Forest Service is hosting workshops to:

  1. update the public on the status of the EIS process
  2. describe the alternatives development process, and
  3. solicit input on the criteria being used to evaluate alternative tailings storage facility locations.  

Comment on Rio Tinto's ADEQ water permit renewal

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has proposed to renew Rio Tinto's current water quality permits to discharge polluted mine water being drained from mining shafts on the company's private property near Oak Flat.  

You are invited to comment now on the permit renewal.  The comment deadline is September 7, 2016.

Please submit comments now.

Tell the Forest Service why a mine at Oak Flat is a bad idea today!

Endangered Arizona Hedgehog CactusEndangered Arizona Hedgehog CactusJuly 18, 2016, is the deadline for scoping comments on Rio Tinto’s plan to destroy Oak Flat by building a dangerous mine.

Please send the Forest Service comments to help them understand why Rio Tinto’s proposal is untenable for so many reasons.

The comment deadline is July 18, 2016.

For the last day, the Forest Service is accepting scoping comments to help them prepare a draft Environmental Impact Statement.  This is a chance for you to tell the Forest Service why this proposal is so bad, and why it is so important to protect Oak Flat.

Comment on Rio Tinto's Proposed Mine at Oak Flat

Oak Flat scale modelOak Flat scale modelThe Tonto National Forest has began the permitting process for Rio Tinto's proposed mine at Oak Flat on March 18, 2106.  The first step in the process is a 60 day scoping comment period running from March 18 - May 17.  During this period, the public will  provide comments to the Forest Service to help them identify the issues that should be studied and included when they write a Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The Forest Service has scheduled 4 open houses to explain Rio Tinto's mining plan and to take public comments.  Those meetings all take place from 5:00 - 8:00 PM.

They are:

  • March 31, Queen Valley Recreation Hall, 1478 East Queen Valley Drive, Queen Valley.
  • April 4, Superior High School, 100 Mary Drive, Superior.
  • April 5, Elks Lodge, 1775 East Maple Street, Globe.
  • April 6, Southwest Regional Library, 775 North Green Field Road, Gilbert.
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