TUCSON, Ariz. - After more than ten years of trying to open a large copper mine in the Santa Rita mountains backers of the proposed Rosemont Mine learned late yesterday. a Federal judge has derailed the plan.
But, the company behind Rosemont says the fight is not over.
Environmental groups and tribal governments sued to keep Hudbay Minerals from digging into a site in the Santa Rita's a few miles north of Sonoita.
Hudbay said copper deposits at Rosemont are some of the richest in North America but environmentalists like Randy Serraglio of the Center for Biological Diversity say the plan would destroy riches they find more precious.
"This is a huge victory for the wildlife, the Jaguars and all the fish and frogs that live in the mountains around Tucson for the people who care about these special places and about our water supply; for the tribes to whom these lands are sacred, and really to anyone who believes that our future lies in a much more sustainable economy, than poisoning our public lands so a foreign mining company can profit."
Rosemont's parent company owns the land it plans to mine but it needs to use land from the U.S. Forest Service to pile what it would dig out to create the open pit mine.
The Forest Service granted the permit but Federal Judge James Soto said the Forest Service can only allow the use of the land if it's proven there are valuable minerals there to dig up.
But the Judge says, "Rosemont's proposal to bury its 2,447 acres of unpatented mining claims under 1.9 billion tons of its own waste was a powerful indication that there was not a valuable mineral deposit under that land."
Judge Soto says that made the whole permit process invalid so Hudbay must not dig.
Hudbay says the Rosemont Mine went through ten years of hearings and studies to get the approval the Judge just threw out so it plans to appeal.
A company statement says in part, "We are extremely disappointed with the Court's decision. We strongly believe that the project conforms to federal laws and regulations that have been in place for decades,"