Opponents of the proposed Rosemont Mine are 0 for 3 in trying to stop the state from issuing the mine a groundwater-protection permit.
The State Water Quality Appeals Board agreed this week to uphold an Arizona Department of Environmental Quality decision of a year ago issuing Rosemont Copper the permit. The board's 2-1 vote on Monday goes along with a recommendation last month from a state administrative law judge to uphold the earlier ADEQ decision.
The state ruled in April 2012 that the mining company had proven that the open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson wouldn't pollute groundwater.
The mine opposition group that calls itself Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, and individuals opposed to the mine, had appealed. They argued the state will give the mining company two years to pollute groundwater by allowing construction work there before any discharge limits are imposed.
That's because the state aquifer permit, like most such permits, is supposed to give time for the company to monitor existing water quality and for ADEQ to determine appropriate limits, state officials have said.
The water board's decision leaves litigation as opponents' only remaining avenue for stopping the permit, which a Save the Scenic Santa Ritas spokesman said is under consideration.
The mining company also needs approval from the U.S. Forest Service and a Clean Water Act permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Contact reporter Tony Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 806-7746. Follow Davis' blog at azstarnet.com/news/blogs/desertblog/