By Mark Cowling for Casa Grande Dispatch
The state environmental agency has announced a draft temporary permit for the Florence Copper Project, and the public will have 30 days to comment on permit amendments.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality will host a public hearing on May 19, the last day of the comment period, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Florence High School gym.
The town of Florence and many Florence residents oppose the project, fearing contamination of the water supply. Others look forward to good-paying jobs and a chance to diversify the local economy during the 20-year life of the mine. The town has refused to grant industrial zoning that would allow the project to operate on all of its land, but the company hopes to begin on a 160-acre area of state land outside the town’s jurisdiction.
The state’s latest permit amendments are acceptable to Florence Copper, Rita Maguire, executive vice president and general counsel, said in an interview.
This permit is only for the project’s test phase, not full production. The company is also awaiting a permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before it can begin its test phase.
Florence Copper Project intends to mine a copper deposit off Hunt Highway by the in-situ method. The copper is to be dissolved underground and pumped to the surface, where it is manufactured into 100-pound sheets.
Some Taseko Mines shareholders voice concerns
A group of shareholders dissatisfied with how Taseko Mines is being run — and which sees the company’s Florence Copper Project as a huge risk — hopes to gain a majority on the board of directors in a special election on May 10.
Raging River Capital LP alleges insider trading, self-dealing, conflicts of interest and anemic share performance by the current directors. It called the three directors it seeks to unseat “conflicted” and “self-interested,” and criticized their ties to Canadian mining giant Hunter Dickinson in a news release.
Brian Bergot, Taseko’s vice president of investor relations, predicted the takeover attempt will be unsuccessful in a phone interview on April 15. He dismissed Raging River’s allegations, and said that group’s principals have their own issues.
Taseko, with headquarters in Vancouver, B.C., said in a news release that if Raging River controls the board, it could sell off assets for short-term bondholder gains at the expense of long-term shareholder value.
But Raging River claims there is great support for a new direction.
The group’s stated plan is “to focus on operations not high risk development projects,” including stopping work on Florence.
The plan says Raging River’s nominees would work to: stop all work at Florence except that required to maintain title and obligations; have an independent review of probability and timing of achieving commercial permits; and review all options for the Florence mine.