Finding the Truth: Facts Behind Cyanide Beach Film – by Levi Rowe (March 22, 2013)

Levi Rowe is a Santa Barbara college student majoring in Entrepreneurship with a minor in Philosophy.

The recent film produced by John Dougherty, called Cyanide Beach, attempts to link Augusta Resource – and thereby Rosemont Copper – to a closed mine – the Furtei mine, in Sardinia, Italy. The producer aims to incite public fear and raise alarm over the proposed Rosemont Copper mine outside of Tucson, Arizona, with the goal of delaying and ultimately stopping the project.

The trouble with Cyanide Beach is that, like many “investigative” pieces, Mr. Dougherty started with a conclusion and worked backwards. When one starts research with a clear goal, or hypothesis, one must be extremely careful to adjust the hypothesis as their research disproves the original hypothesis. The investigator, or researcher, must resist the urge to become personally invested in their hypothesis lest they begin to distort facts and findings to fit the intended (hoped) result.

When these flawed, distorted findings are shared with the public as a means to inform, what we end up with is a grossly misinformed public.  And that’s the case with Cyanide Beach.
Unfortunately, John Dougherty was commissioned by longtime opponents of Rosemont Copper, Farmers Investment Co (FICO) to produce a film to discredit Rosemont Copper and Rosemont’s parent company, Augusta Resource. FICO’s leadership are longtime friends of the journalist, having helped financed his 2010 run for US Senate. (Read: Mr. Dougherty’s personal investment in discrediting Rosemont Copper.)

Mr. Dougherty was so personally committed (and indebted to his old friends for their support during his political career), that he Cyanide Beach was produced with little regard to facts.

There is no legal means to connect Rosemont or Augusta Resource to any of the issues related to the Furtei mine in Italy. Unfortunately, Mr. Dougherty’s film distorts facts and omits others to lead the viewer into believing the opposite.

In order to sort out the pure facts and get to the truth, you have to break down the film’s main accusations and examine them.

First, let’s examine the connection between the Futrei mine and Augusta, Rosemont’s parent company. Some of Augusta’s board members used to sit on the board of a company called Sargold Resource Corporation. Sargold, along with the Italian government, purchased a closed mine, the mine at the center of Dougherty’s film, in 2003.

The Cyanide Beach film wants the viewer to believe that the problems that this mine later faced, are connected to these individuals who now are on Augusta’s board. The reality is the Furtei mine, was designed, built, operated and then closed by one company – an Australian company. No one at Augusta or Rosemont has anything to do with this company.

When Sargold purchased the closed mine in 2003, they never reopened the mining operations. Rather, they produced some gold from leftover ore that had already been mined by the previous owner of the mine. During the years Sargold owned the closed mine, it was discovered that in order to reopen the mine for operations, a large capital investment would be required.

In 2007, Sargold merged with Buffalo Gold – having never reopened the mine during the 4 years of ownership. Once Buffalo Gold acquired Sargold, the Sargold board of directors left the company. This is standard procedure during mergers and acquisitions, however Mr. Dougherty hopes to make some kind of fictional scandal out of it.

Mr. Dougherty’s film leads the viewer to believe that Rosemont is responsible for the financial downfall of Buffalo Gold – the company that owned the Furtei mine in 2007. What is ignored is that in 2008, the “Global Economic Crisis” hit, sending thousands of companies into bankruptcy. Unfortunately, Buffalo Gold was one of those companies hit by the crisis, but not by anyone at Rosemont or Augusta. The attempt to link them is far-fetched to say the least.

Neither Rosemont Copper nor Augusta Resource have ever had anything to do with mining outside of the United States. Mining in the US is decidedly more strictly regulated than mining in Europe, and in Italy.

For decades, the Furtei mine in Sardinia faced numerous challenges that stemmed from the design, the build and the operation of the mine. You guessed it – neither Rosemont nor Augusta ever had anything to do with the design or the build or the operation of the mine.

Rosemont Copper is accountable to the most stringent environmental standards in the world. Every part of the design – right down to the lighting plan – has been studied, reviewed and scrutinized to ensure their mine operation plan employs 21st century state-of-the-art technologies to mitigate any environmental concerns.

When the facts are examined in context, it’s clear John Dougherty’s film and its accusations simply don’t hold water.