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TUCSON, Ariz.March 8, 2019 — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reversed course and issued a key permit today for the proposed Rosemont Mine in southern Arizona. The open-pit copper mine would threaten critical water resources and destroy Coronado National Forest land.
Today’s action comes more than two years after a formal recommendation of denial was issued by the Corps’ Los Angeles district and despite a series of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommendations to deny the permit.
“There’s a long, clear record of law, science and public opposition condemning the proposed Rosemont Mine. This permit isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on,” said Randy Serraglio, a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Rosemont would do devastating damage to Arizona’s water and wildlife. There’s no justification for this destructive project. We’ll fight with everything we have to protect Tucson’s water supply, Arizona’s jaguars and the beautiful wildlands that sustain us all.”
The Clean Water Act requires the Army Corps to study potential harms from dredging and filling significant waterways, to determine whether a project should be approved and decide what mitigation is required. Prior to the Trump administration, numerous Corps and EPA communications spanning several years indicated that Rosemont’s devastating impacts were intolerable and could not be mitigated.
“The only significant change since the Corps recommended denying this project in 2016 is the installation of the most corrupt presidential administration in modern U.S. history,” said Serraglio. “The decision to permit Rosemont is based purely on politics and will not stand up in court.”
The Rosemont Mine would bury thousands of acres of public land in the Coronado National Forest under 800-foot-deep mounds of toxic waste, including the former home territory of the famed jaguar El Jefe, who roamed the project site from 2012-2015.
The mine also would use vast amounts of groundwater and dewater the regional aquifer that supports Cienega Creek and a number of endangered species that live in the area.
“The Rosemont Mine would be a tragic loss for Arizona’s wildlands and wildlife,” said Serraglio. “The mine is a huge threat to Tucson’s water security and would dry up irreplaceable springs and streams that support endangered jaguars, frogs and fish. This disaster cannot be mitigated, and it must be stopped.”