Tempers flare at hearing on Central Arizona copper mine – by Michelle Peirano (Arizona Daily Star – March 22, 2013)



WASHINGTON – Cronkite News Service – A four-hour congressional hearing grew testy Thursday as House members considered a bill to swap thousands of acres of private and federal land to make way for a massive copper mine in Central Arizona.

The bill to trade land near Superior with Resolution Copper Mining passed the House last year but stalled in the Senate, and is back now for its eighth year.

Supporters said the deal, which would give Resolution access to a copper-rich piece of government land, would bring thousands of jobs and more than $6 billion in new taxes to the state over 40 years of operation. “The economic benefits are staggering,” said Republican Rep. Paul Gosar, who co-sponsored the bill with Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, both of Arizona.

The company says the mine would be the largest copper producer in the country and would account for 25 percent of the world’s copper, turning out 1 billion pounds or more a year.

Opponents worry about the environmental and cultural impact from a mine of that scale, and they question why the government would swap such a valuable resource with a company that is not American-owned. Resolution’s parent companies are based in England and Australia.

“At a time when all Americans are being asked to tighten our belts, this bill will result in a giveaway of American wealth to a foreign-owned mining company,” said Terry Rambler, chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

He also said the massive copper mine would deprive the tribe of sacred lands at Oak Flat, a popular recreation spot, and that the mining process would harm all lands in the area.

Rambler and other critics said the potential loss of water in the area is a particular concern. He pointed to ancient oak trees in the area that take centuries to produce a single acorn.

“These trees will be destroyed and the land flattened,” Rambler told a House Committee on Natural Resources subcommittee.

The bill would give Resolution 2,422 acres of U.S. Forest Service land in the Tonto National Forest, in exchange for 5,344 acres of environmentally sensitive land currently owned by the company.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Arizona Daily Star website: http://azstarnet.com/business/local/tempers-flare-at-hearing-on-central-arizona-copper-mine/article_292d86d5-90cf-5238-a816-6979598f05a6.html