This week's Arizona Department of Environmental Quality decision to grant Rosemont Copper an air quality permit is not going to be followed immediately with a U.S. Forest Service decision on the proposed mine's environmental document.
Coronado National Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch said Friday that the service is reviewing just-received computerized air quality modeling on the mine's effects on visibility in national parks and wilderness areas.
There's still lots of work to do on National Historic Preservation Act consultation with Indian tribes and Endangered Species Act consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, he said. That consultation, which will study the mine's effects on the jaguar and proposed jaguar critical habitat, is slated to be finished at the end of March.
As for the question of whether the mine needs a supplemental environmental impact statement -- an idea favored by opponents and abhorred by supporters -- there's no decision on that yet, either, Upchurch said.
Christopher Chang, a Canadian mining stock analyst, wrote just after the ADEQ decision on Thursday that he continues to believe that the mine will get a final Forest Service decision and an Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act permit by the third quarter of this year.
Those are "significantly more important milestones" than the new air permit, he said. But "given the well-documented permitting challenges, any permit secured is positive as it further de-risks the project," Chang wrote.
The stock price of Rosemont parent Augusta Resource Corp., which rose 17 cents a share to $2.60 a share on Thursday, added another 19 cents on Friday. It's still well below its price of a year ago but well above the price of June 2012. Chang, who gives Rosemont a "speculative buy" recommendation, says the mining company's target price is about $5.
"Upon successful completion of the permitting process, we believe Augusta represents a very attractive acquisition target due to Rosemont’s relatively large resource size, low political risk jurisdiction, excellent local infrastructure, and low capital intensity," Chang wrote. "We believe permitting risk remains the largest overhang on the company’s shares."