To: Natural Resource/Public Lands Sub-Committee
Subject: HR 3301
There are several serious considerations why the land exchange proposed in HR 3301 is not a good plan for the Arizona public or the Native Americans in the region.
1) U.S. mining companies always go through the National Environment Policy Assessment (NEPA) to be able to mine on public lands. Why should Resolution with the legacy of its parent corporations' horrific environmental records be an exception? Particularly, in this region, there are environmental issues that must be addressed adequately with a public process.
2) Tailings Disposal: There is no place to put the waste tailings, which will amount to a pile equivalent to a 20 story-building spread over 2,389 acres.
5) Cavity size: The underground cavity is estimated to be a mile in diameter and 3,000 plus feet high. Is there an insurance company that will provide insurance there will be no collapses or air blasts? Recent history has shown that tunnel mines are the most dangerous.
6) The proposed mine site is in an incredibly beautiful area of Arizona, with oaks, riparian areas and a stream that provides a home to hundreds of sycamores, birds and other wildlife. It is claimed that the private lands for exchange contain endangered species. However, I have inquired of the Nature Conservancy and Senator Kyl for a list of the endangered species on the exchange lands. I have not received a reply from either party.
7) The nearby Apache Leap, a site of history of Native American heroes, should be protected and not be disturbed. The site should be made a national monument to honor 75 Apache warriors who exercised their freedom in a leap of faith that nothing could be worse than the capture by the U. S. Calvary.
For a full and comprehensive analysis of the situation, see the report that was sent out to all Arizona Representatives and Senators on July 24, 2007.
Why am I concerned? I live in mining territory and know what it does to the territory. I have spent over 1,000 hours collecting data and attending hearings, so that a local copper mine would stop its pollution to the water that is delivered in my own home. A picture is worth a thousand words. A bird’s eye view is available on Google maps.
Elaboration on points 1, 2 and 3:
1) Necessity of NEPA process: For some 25 years, U.S. companies have been mining on public lands with public process and environmental oversight. Records show that even with the NEPA process, there are serious contamination to groundwater, soil and air. See environmental impact report. Why should Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, whose Kennecott operations have created the biggest groundwater toxic plume in the U.S. at Salt Lake region of Utah, be granted the ability to mine without public process and oversight? This week a report was released that a Rio Tinto/Kennecott operation in Nevada is accused of inaccurate mercury reporting in an AP release.
In 1997, a massive blowout of the sulfuric acid leach pads into Pinto Creek’s adjacent riparian watershed occurred at the BHP copper mine just a few miles east of Resolution Copper’s proposed mining site. Pinto Creek empties into the Roosevelt Lake, which provides a potable drinking water supply. See photo below:
Further, since this area is owned the other parent companies, BHP, Resolution Copper officials have proposed that they pipe the tailings waste up to this region, which is already a WQARF (Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund) site.
For further information, see www.g-a-l.info/Remedial Action.htm
2) Tailings Disposal
There is no place to put the waste tailings without spoiling the landscape for several miles. Augusta projects that they will be processing 110,000 tons of ore per day. Since the ore only has 3% copper, this means that daily there will be some 100,000 tons of waste to dispose of. When put in a pile 200 ft. high (20-story building), it will require 2,389 acres for disposal over the life of the mine. The tailings impoundment in my home town of Green Valley covers 3,600 acres and grows higher by 8 to 10 feet per year. See below:
3,600 acre tailing impoundment at Sierrita mine, Green Valley AZ
Another view of Sierrita impoundment
Dust blowing off of Asarco Mission impoundment near Tucson, AZ
Arial view of an impoundment and operations
Impoundment in Morenci, AZ that was cited and fined by the