TUCSON, Ariz. — The Rosemont mine has cleared a significant hurdle on Thursday.
Hudbay minerals Inc. announced that its operational plans for the Rosemont mine project have been approved by the U.S. Forest Service.
"Receiving the MPO is an important milestone that completes the permitting process at Rosemont," said Alan Hair, Hudbay's president and chief executive officer, in a statement.
Hair also spoke about the permit's impact and how it moves the project forward:
"With the receipt of the Section 404 Water Permit, an agreement to consolidate 100% ownership and receipt of the approved MPO, Hudbay continues to move the project forward. Rosemont is now a fully permitted, shovel-ready copper project and we look forward to developing this world-class asset."
Jobs and economics versus protecting the environment, water and wildlife---those are the issues that have faced off in the debate over the Rosemont Copper Mine for more than 10 years.
The Rosemont site is in the Santa Rita mountains about midway between I-10 and the town of Sonoita.
Some people value the land for its beauty. Hudbay, the Canadian company that owns the land sees beauty in the copper ore under the land----which Hudbay says is valuable enough to create the third largest open-pit mine in the country.
The company says it may employ as many as 2500 people to build the mine and about five hundred people to run it over a 19 year life.
The U.S. Forest Service agreed to let the company to use Federal land to store earth it digs out of it's own property.
Earlier EPA reports said digging the mine would jeopardize water quality for the region and previously the EPA told the Army Corps of Engineers it will not challenge the mine any farther.
Randy Serraglio is with the Center for Biological Diversity . He says the mine will disrupt the environment, and destroy habitat for endangered species like jaguar that have been seen in the area.
"No open pit copper mine has ever failed to leak toxic materials into the groundwater surrounding it, and all open pit copper mines use huge amounts of groundwater equivalent to 10s of thousands of single family homes. I mean in in an era when we're looking at shortages on the Colorado River and we're scrambling to protect our water supply, permitting Rosemont makes no sense whatsoever."
Hudbay says it will replace ground water with Colorado River water bought from the Central Arizona Project and do extensive work to mitigate the effects of the mine. But several organizations like Serraglio's have active lawsuits to stop the mine and say when the Corps of Engineers permit comes down they'll sue to stop it too.