A measure seeking to block the Resolution Copper Mine development is currently connected to the $3.5T budget reconciliation bill, even as the U.S. Forest Service advances efforts to consult with Native American groups regarding the project.
The Save Oak Flat Act (HR 1884) was attached to the reconciliation package by the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee. HR 1884 would overturn a 2014 land swap authorization that would enable Resolution’s owners to operate the mine in exchange for company-owned land elsewhere. The plan was approved in January in the last days of the Trump Administration but reversed by the Biden Administration shortly after taking office.
A key issue in the ongoing debate is an assertion by the San Carlos Apache Tribe that the mining operation would destroy sacred sites.
The full House could remove HR 1884 from the package. A coalition of officials from Pinal and Gila counties sent a letter urging the bill’s removal. Legislation in the Senate that seeks to block the mine faces its own hurdles.
Resolution Copper officials continue to talk with opponents in an attempt to work out a plan that would permit the mine to move forward.
Supporters of the project note the reconciliation budget measure will likely include a number of renewable energy projects, which will increase demand for copper. Projections show the Resolution Copper Mine could satisfy roughly 25% of U.S. copper needs when operational.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Forest Service last month sent letters to 15 Arizona tribes in an attempt to restart consultation on water quality and mining methods. A listening session is scheduled for October 19th. Consultations will be followed by Forest Service and Resolution Copper discussions about concerns and potential solutions. (Source)