The CEO of the National Mining Association Rich Nolan criticized the federal appeals court’s decision to block the copper mining project in Rosemont, Arizona, warning that “wrong rulings” will ensure the United States watches the global energy race from afar.
He was responding to last week’s split decision in which the Ninth Circuit agreed with the Arizona District Court’s ruling that the US Forest Service was relying on incorrect assumptions about its legal authority and the validity of Rosemont’s non-patented mining concessions in the publication of the final environmental impact. statement.
Writing for the majority of the panel, Circuit Judge William Fletcher said no one disputed that Rosemont had valid mineral rights to the land where it planned to excavate the opening 3,000 feet deep by 6,500 feet wide. However, the 1.9 billion tons of waste rock the company planned to dump on 2,447 acres of National Forest land was a problem.
“We continue to believe that the District Court’s decision was fundamentally wrong, contradicts more than a century of United States Supreme Court rulings on mining law, and undermines the careful balance required between the vital need for a responsible national mining development and the preservation of certain federal lands,” Nolan said.
He pointed out that the USGS found that the country’s dependence on imports had increased this year, even as demand for minerals soared.
“This project is a great example of why that is. More than 12 years and $100 million have been invested in the permitting process and yet this proposed project – which could positively contribute to achieving our nation’s electrification and future energy goals – remains stalled. said Nolan.
Project owner Hudbay said last week that while it reviews the decision, it will continue to pursue its alternative plan to advance the adjacent Copper World project.
Hudbay unveiled some initial plans for Copper World and Rosemont, saying the soon-to-be-released preliminary economic assessment will incorporate a two-phase mine plan. The first will be a stand-alone operation using Hudbay’s private lands for processing infrastructure and planning to mine parts of Copper World and Rosemont located on patented mining claims.
The first phase should only require state and local permits and should reflect a mine life of 15 years.
The second phase of the mining plan is expected to extend the mine life and incorporate an expansion onto federal lands to mine all of the Rosemont and Copper World deposits. The second phase of the mining plan would be subject to the federal authorization process.
Hudbay expects to be able to obtain federal permits within the limits imposed by the ruling, if subsequent appeals are unsuccessful.