Tucson, AZ, Dec 18 – The same Canadian mining speculators who are now seeking government permits to build the Rosemont copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains near Tucson, Arizona, left behind a trail of unpaid vendors, a misspent government loan, hidden investors, and a toxic mess known to locals as “Cyanide Beach” after owning and operating an open-pit gold mine in Sardinia, Italy from 2003-07.
That is the cautionary tale told in Cyanide Beach, a revealing 24-minute video documentary by award-winning investigative reporter John Dougherty that Green Valley (AZ) News Editor Dan Shearer said “raise(s) questions that Rosemont must address if it intends to move forward with integrity.”
Vancouver, B.C.-based Augusta Resource Corporation owns the Rosemont Copper Company. The film chronicles the deceptive business tactics of Augusta’s top executives when they ran another Canadian junior mining company, Sargold Resource Corporation, which owned and operated the Sardinian mine.
Six of Sargold’s directors are current or former Augusta Board members and are behind the Rosemont Copper Company’s free-spending lobbying and PR campaign to win public support for blasting a mile-wide, half-mile deep hole in the Santa Rita Mountains and dumping 70-story high mountains of toxic mining waste on more than 3,000 acres of the Coronado National Forest.
“We already know that the Rosemont Mine would threaten the air and groundwater in and around Tucson with mercury, lead, arsenic and other poisons from its billions of tons of toxic mine waste,” said Lauren Pagel, Earthworks’ Policy Director. “That threat is magnified when we find out that the people behind Rosemont Copper have such a checkered business history.”
Cyanide Beach is based on Dougherty's review of thousands of pages of financial documents involving Augusta’s officers and his on-site interviews in Italy, the U.S. and Canada. Dougherty uncovers a tangled history of cease trade orders, an insider trading settlement agreement, an investment caution warning issued by Canadian regulators, stock exchange de-listings, personal and corporate bankruptcies, and false disclosure statements to regulators. The full details can be found at www.investigativemedia.com.
Cyanide Beach reveals how these speculators conducted operations in Sardinia and raises questions of whether they now can be trusted to deliver on their promises to operate the Rosemont copper mine without depleting local water supplies, harming endangered wildlife, or polluting the surrounding environment. Their actions in Sardinia include:
- Failing to pay local contractors, forcing vendors to obtain court judgments;
- Misspending a $787,000 Sardinian government loan that was supposed to be used to develop an underground mine;
- Issuing misleading press releases to investors, including a release that overstated gold reserves in Sardinia forcing the Toronto Venture Stock Exchange to require the company to retract the projection;
- Failing to disclose that a Cayman Islands hedge fund controlled more than 10 percent of Sargold’s stock between 2005 and 2007;
- Using its obligation to implement environmental restoration of the Sardinian gold mine as leverage with Sardinian government officials in a failed attempt to gain gold mining rights elsewhere; and
- Failing to disclose Mr. Warke’s personal bankruptcy in regulatory filings between 2003 and 2005.
“Irresponsible mine proposals like Rosemont clearly demonstrate that we need to update the 1872 Mining Law,” said Pagel. “A common sense mining law would allow the Forest Service to look at Augusta’s backers’ dismal history, and decide not to trust them with our public lands.”