Yesterday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on legislation that would transfer 2,400+ acres of land to foreign mining companies to facilitate a huge copper mine in Arizona. If built, the mine would take a campground and sites sacred to area tribes out of public hands and turn it over foreign-owned mining companies.
A subsidiary of Rio Tinto and BHP – Billiton is proposing to mine a rich copper vein on public and private lands east of Superior, Arizona. Because the proposed mine would most likely destroy the area in question, the company, called Resolution Copper, is pushing for legislation to privatize the Oak Flat Campground, which has been withdrawn from mining since the 1950’s, and surrounding public lands in the Tonto National Forest.
Tribal leaders from both Arizona and New Mexico traveled to DC to show their opposition to any legislation that will destroy sacred sites in the area, including Oak Flat Campground and Apache Leap.
The Southeastern Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act passed the House of Representatives in October of last year, but we are still hopeful the legislation won't come up for a vote this year in the Senate. Earthworks and our partners have been working since 2005 to keep public lands in public hands and protect the cultural and ecological resources found in the potential mining area.