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Water permit upheld for Rosemont Mine near Tucson

TUCSON, Ariz. — Opponents have failed to prove that a proposed new open
pit mine near Tucson would harm groundwater supplies, an administrative judge
recently ruled.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that Law Judge Thomas
Shedden upheld last week the Rosemont Mine’s aquifer protection permit from the
state. Opponents didn’t show that the Arizona Department of Environmental
Quality’s granting of the permit was “arbitrary, unreasonable, unlawful, or
based upon a technical judgment that was clearly invalid,” he said.

The permit allows Rosemont Copper Co. to discharge materials if it can show
that it’s using the best-known technology to prevent pollutants from reaching

Shedden’s ruling dismisses 19 issues raised by 11 individuals and five
environmental groups opposing the proposed mine. They contended the state permit
will allow Rosemont Copper to pollute local groundwater supplies.

If Shedden’s decision is upheld by the state Water Quality Appeals Board,
litigation will be the opponents’ only recourse on the water permit, which ADEQ
issued a little more than a year ago.

The appeals board will hear the case on July 8.

The company seeks to mine 243 million pounds of copper annually in an open pit
in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson.

Rosemont Copper also needs a favorable decision from the U.S. Forest Service
and a federal Clean Water Act permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

“We are gratified the judge made a thoughtful and detailed decision regarding
the appeal and upholding ADEQ’s permit,” said Kathy Arnold, Rosemont Copper’s
vice president of environmental and regulatory affairs.

“During the hearing,
the appellants were given every opportunity to back up their assertions with
evidence, but failed to do so. The bottom line is that Rosemont’s permit is
amply supported by scientific studies and data, and meets all legal

Opponents said they were disappointed with Shedden’s decision, particularly
because he agreed with ADEQ’s allowing the mine to do construction work for more
than two years before setting formal discharge limits. That period gives time
for the company to monitor existing water quality and for ADEQ to determine
appropriate limits.

“That this permit could be issued demonstrates what a sham the so-called
aquifer protection process is in Arizona,” said Greg Shinsky, a neighboring
resident and one of those appealing.


Information from: Arizona Daily Star,


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