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Rosemont Mine Gets another Key State Approval

This desert area southeast of Tucson would be the site of an open-pit copper mine if the Rosemont plan is approved after scrutiny by several governmental regulatory agencies. Photo credit: Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star

By Tony Davis for Arizona Daily Star

It’s one more government approval down, two to go for the proposed Rosemont Mine.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality announced Feb. 4 that it has issued a final certification – with lots of conditions attached – that the mine will meet state water quality standards.

This certification is needed for Rosemont Copper to get a federal Clean Water Act permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge and fill several streams lying near the mine site and upstream of the state-protected Cienega Creek and Davidson Canyon, southeast of Tucson.

A previous step, ADEQ’s tentative certification for the mine issued nearly a year ago, was contested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Pima County. They expressed concerns that the mine could pollute surface water.

But now, the ADEQ believes that if Rosemont adheres to the conditions it has imposed on the project, as well as those that the Army Corps would impose if it issues its permit, and other state and federal permitting and mitigation requirements, “the project will neither cause nor contribute to degradation of downstream surface waters,” ADEQ spokesman Mark Shaffer said Wednesday in an email.

It’s the third approval that the ADEQ has given Rosemont for the 4,500-acre mine that would be sited on public and private land in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson. The ADEQ also has issued an air quality permit and a groundwater aquifer protection permit for the $1.2B project that would mine 243 million pounds of copper a year.

Both permits are being challenged in court by opponents.

Besides the still-unresolved U.S. Army Corps permit, the mine also needs a final approval from the U.S. Forest Service before it can start construction. It’s not clear when either of those decisions will occur but the Corps probably won’t make a decision on its permit until the Forest Service makes its final decision on the mine.

Read more at Arizona Daily Star