Rosemont Copper Poised To Clear Major Regulatory Hurdle

Late Friday afternoon, the U. S. Forest Service announced the long anticipated Record of Decision (ROD) for the Rosemont Copper project will be signed in early June, 2017.  This is welcomed news for many southern Arizonans, who have been waiting ten long years for the permitting process to run its course.

Located along the eastern flank of the Santa Rita Mountains approximately 30 miles southeast of Tucson, Arizona, the Rosemont copper deposit has been extensively evaluated since its discovery by the Banner Mining Company during the early 1960s.   Results contained in the most recent NI 43-101 technical report and feasibility study released by Hudbay Minerals on March 30, 2017 suggest the proposed 19-year project would earn a 15.5% after tax internal rate of return at $3.00/lb. copper.

In addition to individuals who will be directly employed by the Rosemont Copper project, many of Arizona’s businesses that provide goods and services to the area’s mines will also benefit from Hudbay Minerals’  $1.9 billion investment in our community.   A large portion of this initial investment as well as the cash flow generated over the life of the project will find its way into Arizonans’ pocketbooks.   Federal, state and local governments will directly and indirectly benefit from tax revenues generated from this economic activity.

Responsible development of large infrastructure projects like Rosemont Copper benefits all Americans by reducing our nation’s unsustainable trade deficits, which transfer badly needed revenues abroad that could otherwise be invested here.    It also enhances our national security by reducing America’s reliance on imported goods, making us less vulnerable to decisions made by foreign governments.

Last November Arizonans supported President Trump’s vision to “Make America Great Again.”   We now call on him to back our efforts to make Rosemont and Arizona’s other major copper projects a reality.

Disclaimer:  David F. Briggs is a resident of Pima County and a retired geologist, who intermittently worked on the Rosemont Copper project from 2006 until 2014.  The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of Rosemont Copper.

Copyright (2017) by David F. Briggs.  Reprint is permitted only if credit of authorship is provided and linked back to the source.

About David F. Briggs 47 Articles
David F. Briggs is a retired geologist, whose work is feature by the Arizona Geological Survey. Briggs intermittently worked on the Rosemont project between 2006 and 2014. He has authored articles on Arizona’s mining history.

23 Comments

  1. All the folks against the Rosemont Copper Mine Project – one thing you fail to recognize is that every device that you use from the copper in the wires in walls of your home, in you computer, tablet or cell phone has copper in it. Without copper our society would fail to function. Copper now comes from overseas where salve labor is used to mine. Don’t forget all the drug addicts that that need to steal copper to support their habits! So, please stop trying to prevent the mine and let our economy get corrected and our community get back on it’s feet.

    • Yours and other well reasoned, informed posts are a welcome relief to the uninformed hyperventilating posts. Thank you. It’s also about NIMBY.

      • The NIMBY accusation is convenient when it’s not in your back your. However, for the residents of Corona de Tucson, Greaterville, and the Santa Rita Foothills community that are within 10 miles or less of this site, they will have to deal with the pollutants in their water table, the explosions that will happen daily as they carve out the open pit, and the pollution they and their kids will most certainly breath in every day. This will be a 24 hour operation. Do you think they’re going to think about the 8,000 residents six miles away when they’re using explosives in the middle of the night? The air pollutants will be farther reaching than just the communities that are within 10 miles of the mine.

        Maybe the conversation would be different if there weren’t already active mines that are running at reduced capacity because of reduced demand for copper and China’s stockpiles. Perhaps we should be spending more time recycling copper out of our old electronic devices and vehicles to reuse in other products instead of putting people’s health at risk and opening mines so close to large cities.

        Last thing, please do some research in HudBay’s environmental history. It’s very very bad. Even in their home country of Canada, they have a horrible track record. Just because you don’t agree with someone, doesn’t mean they haven’t done their research and come to an educated decision.

  2. David…the wait isn’t over yet…some NGO is no doubt got a different opinion than USFS. I like what you wrote except for the last bit. Trump had zero to do with the permitting process and will have little to do with the final approvals. We need to be a great nation with some self-sufficiency in the minerals we use despite whatever particular individual occupies the WH.

  3. I had an opportunity to visit the open pit Silver Bell Mine a few years ago, and I recommend everyone speaking in favor of Rosemont do the same. First the mountains are blasted into rubble and roadways carved out to the top. A sulfuric acid solution is pumped to the top and industrial-sized sprinklers saturate the area. The acid filters down carrying the ore deposits into a toxic sludge pond at the bottom. That sludge is pumped over to a facility where a process turns it into copper sheets. Workers must wear respirators or risk death. What happens to the water table? Well, it can’t be pretty. Sure, Rosemont is about jaguars and other things, but mostly it’s about water. We don’t have enough to allow the poisoning of what we do have. And if you visit, check out the mutant saguaros along the tailings roads.

    • Did you see the herds of bighorn sheep out there while you visited? One of the largest herds in Arizona. Saw a group of 11 last year on a visit. Wildlife is in equilibrium with the mining operation and have been for the last 50-60 years

    • Aquifer water quality in Arizona is administered by Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Silver Bell has an Aquifer Protection Permit and has been performing compliance monitoring for decades with all results (water levels, water quality, facility inspections) reported to ADEQ. Annual summary reports are provided to ADEQ…all of which is in the public record. The condition of their permits requires mitigating further degradation of the aquifer to the best extent possible through use of passive and active containment, engineering controls, and best management practices.

      Water quantity (i.e. withdrawals for mining, agriculture, domestic use, etc.) is administered by Arizona Department of Water Resources. EPA is also involved for water quality on tribal lands. There is no shortage of environmental oversight in the U.S., and all of this intended to ensure protections of the environment, habitat, cultural resources, community safety, and other inputs. One cannot say the same for mineral resources sourced from other nations.

      • Tucson Water uses ground water to provide water service to the residents of Corona de Tucson. They have a track record of not reporting contaminants in the water in S. Tucson. Do you really think these people are going to feel safe drinking the water out of their faucet if this mine opens?

        These mining companies often just pay the fines for over polluting. ASARCO has done this many times. Pay the fine, move on. Meanwhile the people breathing in the air can’t just pay a fine to improve their health.

  4. I am pro RCM, but the author’s words on trade deficits and security are dead wrong and show a clear lack of economic understanding.

    “infrastructure projects like Rosemont Copper benefits all Americans by reducing our nation’s unsustainable trade deficits, which transfer badly needed revenues abroad that could otherwise be invested here.” – trade deficits are merely one side of an equation: The author speaks of the current account (goods and services) trade deficit but ignores the capital account (monetary investments) trade surplus (they are inverses). Dollars earned by foreigners must, by definition, be spent either on American goods and services or invested in America in the form of stocks, bonds, treasuries, real estate, etc. In other words, if foreigners sell us fewer goods, they will earn fewer dollars. With fewer dollars, they will be able to make fewer investments in America. “trade deficits” are also “investment surpluses”. If America is an attractive place to invest relative to other countries, America will run a trade deficit. Under these circumstances, America will continue to attract a net positive inflow of foreign capital to fund innovation and increase productivity.
    “It also enhances our national security by reducing America’s reliance on imported goods, making us less vulnerable to decisions made by foreign governments.” – How many trade partners is America currently at war with? Has America ever gone to war with a trade partner? The author forgets, our trade partners rely on Americans buying foreign goods just as much as Americans rely on buying foreign goods. Trade is synonymous with peace.

    • It’s also worth noting that the Dollar’s status as a reserve currency creates additional demand for our currency, semi-artifically raising its price relative to other currencies. This, all else equal, would lead to exported goods being relatively more expensive on the world market and imported goods from foreign nations being relatively cheaper, creating a trade deficit because of this auxiliary demand for dollars.

      I am more concerned about the lack of detail whatsoever given to the environmental impacts of Rosemont. Even if people don’t believe that they are as bad as I (or other environmentalists) fear, the environmental cost is certainly nonzero, leading to lower tourism and property values, as well as higher health costs in the future. That should be considered in a reasonable economic impact study.

      • Over the last ten years, there have been hundreds of studies conducted on virtually every aspect of this project. Although these studies do show there will be impacts, they also conclude these impacts can be satisfactorily dealt with through mitigation efforts proposed in the EIS.

        • I appreciate the civil response, but I do have two things to note:

          1) ‘…[I]mpacts can be satisfactorily dealt with through mitigation efforts proposed in the EIS’.

          While that may be true, there are numerous accounts with mining companies who agree to mitigation efforts, and then cut corners on their enviromental mitigation techniques for the purpose of cutting costs, and then spending lots of time and money litigating after the fact, before finally skipping town and leaving locals footing the bill.

          2) “Results contained in the most recent NI 43-101 technical report and feasibility study released by Hudbay Minerals on March 30, 2017 suggest the proposed 19-year project would earn a 15.5% after tax internal rate of return at $3.00/lb. copper.”

          I am not sure that it is reasonable to assume that copper prices will rebound to $3.00/lb. Based on a quick search, I found that spot prices for copper are about $2.50 right now, and an approval and opening of this mine would likely push spot prices lower due to the expectations of increased supply and lower prices in the future. As I understand it, numerous mines have already been shuttered in Arizona because of persistently low copper prices over the past couple of years. This begs the question of why, if prices are expected to be going back up, wouldn’t it make more sense to reopen the mines we’ve already dug up?

        • Unfortunately, HudBays record indicates they will be heavy polluters. That’s not a good thing for the residents who live near the mine site and there are thousands of them. The residents of Corona de Tucson rely on ground water for their drinking water. What are the odds that ground water won’t be polluted by the mine?

    • I think the best analogy for the trade deficit is the consumer who piles up $10,000 of credit card debt and pays $10 a month on the balance. For the short term, he is happy purchasing anything he wants, but with a growing balance from fees and interest, he soon finds himself in serious financial trouble.

      As for the national security side of the argument, one of the reasons why America went to war in Iraq during early 1990s was oil. Need I say more?

      • You must be confused. A trade deficit is not the same as a budget deficit/deficit spending. Your analogy holds for deficit spending, but not a trade deficit. A better analogy: In an effort to make your household as self-sufficient as possible, you determine to make your own furniture, eggs, and bread. You plant trees and wheat in order to someday harvest the wood and grains for furniture and bread. You acquire(from other people, ugh) chickens in order to have eggs. You quickly realize that the cost of making these three simple things yourself is astronomical when considering the tools, resources, and time spent doing these, especially if you determine to make all of the tools yourself (self-sufficiency, yay!). This kind of thinking is just as crazy when you change “household” for “country” and “furniture, eggs, and bread” for literally any good that America does not have a competitive advantage in.

        The oil example proves my point. In the early 90s our Iraqi oil imports were 0. Because we were at war with them. Most of oil comes from Latin Am. and Canada, the “War for oil” narrative is a myth.

        • The trade deficit and budget deficit/deficit spending may not be the same thing, but they are linked. When foreigners invest dollars in the U. S., they invest in many things, including businesses and bonds issued by the U. S. government. In the case of U.S. bonds, the U.S. government is not only obligated to repay the principle used to purchase the bond, but also must pay interest to service that debt. It becomes a vicious circle in which America ultimately loses.

          Just because America may not have been importing much oil from Iraq at the time does not mean their actions were not a threat to our economic interests. Oil like other commodities is traded on the world market. Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait threatened the a region that supplied a significant portion of the world’s oil supply, resulting in large spike of the price of oil, including the price of oil imported from U.S. trading partners.

  5. Well you can say goodby to anything living within a hundred or more miles around the more than four thousand foot wide open pit or the fields of acid. Not counting the millions of tons of waste that is going to be dumped on what was forest land. Then of course there is the profit from the ore only the Company gets along with all the water they want for free.

    • You really don’t know what you are talking about.

      In Miami, AZ there has been mining for decades and decades. I can testify from firsthand knowledge that even when the open pit was in production, we had two herds of deer, bears, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes and all kinds of other animals LIVING RIGHT THERE while we were working.

      The Pinal Mountains are a rifle shot away and they teem with wildlife.

      Your (I assume) modern, urban “lifestyle” does far more damage to the environment than a well-rub modern mine. Get out of the 20th century.

    • Most mine operations I’ve visited over the decades are actually wildlife sanctuaries. There’s no hunting allowed and the activities are focused in a few areas leaving other areas untouched. Yes, there is 100% disturbance in the footprint of the pit, waste rock dumps, or tailings, and some noise associated with blasting and haulage, but wildlife still lives in these areas and adapts just fine…typically frequenting the areas owing to presence of water. I’ve seen kit fox in the upper benches of mine pits and wrens happily living on the rocky pit walls. Deer, bobcat, rabbits, javelina, ringtails, coyotes, and mountain lions all frequent your typical SW Arizona mine operation. Bighorns are abundant at Silver Bell & Morenci and they are oblivious to large equipment and noise…just so long as you don’t get out of the pickup and approach…they’ll ignore you. How many of these animals survive once an area is asphalted over with parking lots, roads, and apartment buildings or fields plowed for monoculture agriculture. Once again, we may have a few visitors, but the habitat has been more altered per square acre than occurs with most industrial operations.

    • I didn’t see anyone else lining up to risk billions to make money, and fight 10 years with their money at risk, they dam well deserve to make as much (evil) profit as possible from copper in the copper state you anti everything anything.

      Maybe you should live in a pallet house that way you don’t touch or use any of that evil for profit copper.

      I just love the idiots that live high on the hog with all the evil technology they despise.

      Hypocrites

  6. Rosemont Copper project will be signed in early June, 2017…..Well, that didn’t take too long.

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