By Steve Christy
As a native of Pima County, mining has always been of particular interest to me, and I’m sure to all of us who live, work, and invest in our community. After all, mining has always played an integral role in our region’s financial health and economic development, and has long been a significant factor in our local and state history. For well over a decade, I have listened to and discerned intently the passionate arguments, both for and against, the Rosemont Mine project.
There is one over-riding element in all of the debate about the Rosemont Mine that has not been, and is not now being fully recognized and acknowledged: None of us – be it the board of supervisors, the Arizona Mining Alliance, the “Save the Santa Ritas,” or any other group, individual, organization, or coalition for or against the Rosemont Mine – have a seat at the table of the federally-regulated mining oversight and permitting process.
Many of us, on both sides of the issue, would like to think or imagine that we do, but the truth and the reality is simply that we don’t. If passion, feelings, emotion, opinion, money, and commitment were actually driving the decision making and permit granting process, the Rosemont Mine matter and debate would have been settled and resolved over a decade ago. But the cold hard facts are that there exists a process by which mining operations are scrutinized by experts and are permitted to open, operate, and be regulated or be kept from opening, or even be completely shut down. The Rosemont Mine permitting process has gone through this federally mandated and governmentally controlled framework. Some 17 federal regulating mining agencies have determined through all of their very lengthy deliberations that the Rosemont Mine should be granted permission to open and operate. The final and most significantly important judgmental rendering of approval came from the Army Corps of Engineers just last month.
Throughout the past decade, Pima County through its board of supervisors and the county administrator have waged, at taxpayer’s expense, a lawyered-up war to keep Rosemont Mine from opening. Pima County has spent hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of taxpayer dollars trying through legal means, and otherwise, to insert itself into the federal permitting process. Think of where all of your money could have gone to – maybe towards fixing our roads?
After all of county staff time, legal bills, and the public’s money, that effort has failed. Yet the majority on the board of supervisor and the county administrator continue tilting at mine-permitting windmills, and just last month, the board passed yet another painful resolution against the opening of the Rosemont Mine. Rosemont Mine went through the legal permitting process. Rosemont Mine was legally granted its permit request to open and operate.
It is now time for our community to move forward and explore positive ways to coexist with the Rosemont Mine. It is now time for Pima County to stop taxpayer-funded legal maneuverings and lawsuits against the Rosemont Mine. It is now time that all of us work together to ensure that Hudbay and Rosemont Mine live up to and keep their promises.