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Sen. John McCain Visits Resolution Mine, Pledges Support

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R.-Ariz. tours the "never sweat tunnel" with employees, 1,200 feet below the surface in the East Plant at Superior’s Resolution Copper Mining. Photo credit: Mark Henle/The Republic

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R.-Ariz. tours the “never sweat tunnel” with employees, 1,200 feet below the surface in the East Plant at Superior’s Resolution Copper Mining. Photo credit: Mark Henle/The Republic

By Ryan Randazzo for The Arizona Republic

U.S. Sen. John McCain went underground Tuesday to visit miners developing the Resolution Copper Project in Superior, telling them their industry is important to the state and that he will continue to push for legislation to help the mine.

More than 1,000 feet below ground, wearing blue coveralls, a hardhat and headlamp, McCain, R-Ariz., casually asked miners covered in water and muck from thousands of feet further below about their jobs.

He also spoke about the federal land swap that Resolution officials say is key to operating the mine safely at full capacity. Congress must approve the trade, and some members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and other Native American tribes, as well as environmental groups, oppose it.

About 100 people work for Resolution and another 260 for contractors at the mine. Several joined McCain in a tunnel partway down the nearly 7,000-foot deep mine and also at the surface where he spoke to them.

He said the land swap is being held up “at least in my mind, by a minority.”

The land swap would give the mine about 2,400 acres in the Oak Flat area of the Tonto National Forest. In turn, the mine would deed more than 5,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land in several spots around Arizona to the federal government.

“We’ll keep working on it,” McCain said. “It is a bipartisan effort. I was recently able to work on a bill with the only Socialist in Congress … so I can certainly work with anyone on this.”

Read more at The Arizona Republic