Arizona judge recommends Curis’ Florence aquifer permit be rescinded – by Henry Lazenby ( – October 1, 2014)

TORONTO ( – Despite explicitly stating facts to the contrary, Arizona administrative law judge Diane Milhasky on Wednesday recommended that the Arizona Department of Water Quality (ADEQ) rescind a temporary individual aquifer protection permit (APP) granted to Florence Copper, the proponent of the in-situ copper recovery, solvent extraction and electrowinning (SX-EW) Florence copper project.

The judge made a nonbinding recommendation in the appeal of ADEQ’s decision to issue an APP to Florence Copper during July last year, which would be submitted to the Water Quality Appeals Board (WQAB) to make the final determination on the permit.

The town of Florence, legal representatives, Johnson Utilities and Pulte Home Corporation filed an amended notice of appeal with the WQAB to appeal the ADEQ’s issuing of the temporary APP to Florence Copper’s parent, Curis Resources.

In her recommendation, Judge Milhasky noted that Florence Copper’s proposed production test facility (PTF) would not have any impact on the drinking water wells in Florence, nor would it impact the wells owned and operated by Johnson Utilities located north-west of the project.

Curis Resources, which is the subject of an all-scrip $78.9-million takeover deal by Taseko Mines, billed the recommendation as “supportive of the PTF, moving forward with additional monitoring”.

“Although we are disappointed that the judge chose to take the unwarranted step of recommending rescission of the permit even when the appellants’ sole expert witness did not make such a recommendation, we are pleased she agreed that Florence Copper’s PTF will not have an impact on local sources of drinking water. The APP issued by the ADEQ contains requirements that go well beyond current environmental regulations, ensuring that public health and safety are protected,” Florence Copper’s executive VP and general counsel Rita Maguire said.

The ADEQ’s APP had for the past 25 years required permittees to meet stringent water quality standards and demonstrate that they were using the best-available technology to control solutions discharged to an aquifer.

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