The objection review process for the draft Record of Decision (“ROD”) on Rosemont Copper Mine concluded on April 30, 2014. However, the United State Forest Service has notified Rosemont hat it will take additional time to review the approximately 100 comments received and has sent notices to each objector that the process will extend into May 2014.
According to a statement released by the USFS, because of the extensive review of issues raised during the objection process for the Rosemont Copper Mine Project Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), Regional Forester Cal Joyner has determined it necessary to delay his response to the objections filed with the Forest Service.
“The Rosemont Copper Project FEIS is one of the most comprehensive environmental analysis documents ever undertaken by the Forest Service,” stated Joyner. “The complexity of the content of the objections will require additional time to thoroughly review and give full and deliberate considerations to the issues raised,” Joyner added. “Once the objection process review is complete, the Regional Forester will issue a written response to the objections.”
Under the pre-decisional administrative review objection process, individuals and entities may file objections after an environmental analysis document is completed and before a decision document is signed.
Coronado National Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch completed the Rosemont Copper Project FEIS in late December 2013 and issued a Draft Record of Decision (ROD). The objection filing period began January 1, 2014, and by the close of the filing period on February 14, 2014, 101 objections were received by the Southwestern Region of the Forest Service. Regional Forester Cal Joyner is the reviewing officer for the objection process.
Since July 2007, when the Rosemont Copper Mine submitted a preliminary mine plan of operations (MPO) to the Coronado National Forest requesting approval to construct, operate, reclaim, and close an open pit mine on and adjacent to National Forest System lands for development of the Rosemont ore deposit, opponents have crawled out of the woodwork to stop or at least delay the project.
The Forest Service says it will strive to issue a response to the objectors “without undue delay and will provide an update on the progress and the schedule for the ROD by the end of May 2014.
Also, the Army Corps of Engineers has informed Rosemont that there is a shortfall between the mitigation plan proposed in April and the mitigation needed to fully offset impacts to waters of the U.S. associated with the Project, according to Rosemont. The process of evaluating other permitting criteria, such as compliance with 404 guidelines, the evaluation of the public benefit, as well as a more detailed analysis of the mitigation plan, remain to be completed.
According to Rosemont, the Corps stated that this notification should not be taken as an indication that a permit decision has been made.
“We look forward to dialogue and details from the Army Corps of Engineers,” says Katherine Arnold, Augusta’s Vice-President of Environmental and Regulatory Affairs. “We know the impacts can be mitigated and we will continue to work with the Federal agencies towards a successful conclusion of the 404 and NEPA process without undue delay.”
The Company’s permitting guidance has been based on USFS guidance. According to Rosemont, at this time the guidance remains unchanged until a definitive schedule for the Record of Decision is provided by the USFS.