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Judge Nixes Rosemont Mine’s Air Permit

Map credit: Tammie Graves/Arizona Daily Star

By Yoohyun Jung for Arizona Daily Star

A Maricopa County judge March 5 overturned a state air-quality permit issued to Rosemont Copper in January 2013 for its planned mine southeast of Tucson.

Superior Court Judge Crane McClennen ruled that the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s action in granting the permit to Rosemont Copper was “contrary to law, was arbitrary and capricious, and was an abuse of discretion.”

Rosemont Copper, which is owned by Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals, is planning a $1.2B project that would mine 243 million pounds of copper annually in the Santa Rita Mountains, partly on national forest land, about 30 miles from Tucson.

The ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed by the Save the Scenic Santa Ritas group, which opposes the mine, alleging that Rosemont used faulty computer modeling that showed the mine would be in compliance with federal clean-air standards.

Rosemont argued in court that its modeling was appropriate and representative, disputing the group’s assertion.

Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, which challenged the permit first to a state administrative law judge who upheld the ADEQ decision, conducted its own modeling using a much higher expected level of nitrogen oxide, and found that the mine’s operations had the potential to violate federal standards.

The mine also still needs other permits for final Forest Service approval.

Read more at Arizona Daily Star