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Court says Rosemont Copper Company can't dig an open-pit mine near Tucson

By Vaughan Jones
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Published: Friday, May 13, 2022 - 3:30pm
Updated: Saturday, May 14, 2022 - 1:54pm
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The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday blocked a bid from Rosemont Copper Company to dig a 6,500-foot wide open pit mine about 30 miles southeast of Tucson.

In a 2-1 decision, the majority ruled to halt the project, which included mining infrastructure and plans to dump nearly 2 billion tons of waste rock on federal land.

Heidi McIntosh is an attorney with the environmental nonprofit Earthjustice.

“There are other things Rosemont could do. They could truck off their waste. They could find some private land and convince the owner to sell it to them or rent it perhaps. They just can't offload their problem onto the public and the tribes,” said McIntosh.

Roger Featherstone, director of the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition, said Thursday's ruling sets new precedents that affect more than just Rosemont.

"We've believed for many years that the lines that the Forest Service and the BLM have overstepped their authority when it comes to mining claims. And, of course, Judge Soto and now the 9th Circuit has basically said, 'You were right,’” said Featherstone.

The decision is celebrated by environmentalists and nearby Native American tribes, as the land for the proposed mine is ancestral grounds.

Rosemont’s parent company says it will review the decision and continue forward with an alternate plan.

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