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Pima County’s Oracle Ridge Mine May Get DEQ Approval

By Tony Davis for the Arizona Daily Star

The site of a proposed Oracle Ridge copper mine is on the north side of the Santa Catalina Mountains, between Mount Lemmon and the town of Oracle.
Photo Credit: Oracle Ridge Mining Corporation

Pima County’s environmental chief, who denied an air-quality permit for the Rosemont Mine last year, plans to approve one for a much smaller copper mine slated for the back side of the Catalina Mountains.

The proposed Oracle Ridge Mine would emit few enough particulates that it’s likely to meet federal air-quality standards, said Ursula Kramer, director of the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality.

The Oracle Ridge mine would emit less particulate pollution than would the proposed Rosemont Mine and two other major existing copper mines south of Tucson – not just in raw numbers but in proportion to each mine’s copper production, county figures show.

A key reason, Kramer said, is that Oracle Ridge would operate underground while the Asarco Mission Complex and Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold’s Sierrita Mine are open-pit mines, as Rosemont would be.

Oracle Ridge Mining LLC’s mine, lying mostly on private land about seven miles north of Summerhaven, would extract copper from a site that was mined from 1991 to 1996, then closed due to that era’s low copper prices.

Parent company Oracle Mining Corp., based in Vancouver, Canada, bought the site in 2010, and hopes to resume mining there in late 2013. It will operate 11 years, employ 240 people and produce 25 million to 30 million pounds of copper yearly, its officials say.

Read more at AZStarNet