Approval of Rosemont mine highlights need for federal mining law reform

1872 Mining Law forces land managers to permit even the worst mines, like Rosemont

Background:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently announced it would soon permit the Rosemont copper mine southeast of Tucson, Arizona. Partially sited on federally managed public lands in the scenic Santa Rita Mountains in the Sonoran Desert’s sky island ecosystem, federal land managers at the Coronado National Forest had no choice under the 1872 Mining Law but to permit Canada-based Hudbay Minerals’ proposal. Area Native Americans, political leaders, leaders of the local agricultural and recreation-based economy, and many in the local community at large oppose the project which threatens scarce local water supplies, endangered jaguar, and the engines that drive the local economy.

Earthworks Policy Director Lauren Pagel:
“In permitting the ill-advised Rosemont mine, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers just made a powerful argument for reforming federal mining law. A rational law would not permit a massively unpopular mine that threatens the local economy, water supply and what may be the United States’ only resident jaguar. Instead we have have the 1872 Mining Law, a 19th century relic which forced the federal government to permit the Rosemont mine, no matter how bad it is. Fortunately House Natural Resources Chair, Raul Grijalva, is expected to introduce legislation to reform the mining law later this year so travesties like Rosemont never occur again.”

Gayle Hartmann, President, Save the Scenic Santa Ritas:
“We don’t want this mine. In the Sonoran desert, water is more precious than gold or copper. We don’t want foreign mining companies running roughshod over communities while the profits get exported. I am pleased that Rep. Grijalva is working to reform the 1872 Mining Law so other communities can avoid a fight like this one.”

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