A recent Arizona Daily Star article ("Rosemont vows to lift state economy," Feb. 17) reports on a misleading presentation by two local economists calculated to convince the Tucson area that the proposed Rosemont mine would be one of the greatest bonanzas ever to come to Southeast Arizona.
The public should know that their economic report was funded by Rosemont Copper. One sentence from their presentation says it all about the objectivity of their analysis, "It is not our charge to look at all possible negatives and there are plenty of experts who can look at that."
Let us place the proposed benefits of this mine in perspective. According to the Rosemont economists, we can expect 403 employees at the mine at some point in the future. If the mine existed today, the current Arizona Daily Star survey of the top 200 employers in Southeast Arizona would put Rosemont in 119th place. Compared to real economic drivers like Raytheon (11,539 employees) or the University of Arizona (10,575 employees), this mine would be very small potatoes.
It should be pointed out that the real economic drivers employ talented and well-paid engineers and scientists (among other professionals), precisely the type of people who are attracted to a community by its amenities.
Attractive surroundings are very important to these highly paid professionals who can choose where they work. For them, scenic mountains, opportunities for outdoor recreation, and clean water, as examples, are irreplaceable resources.
Of course, organizations like Raytheon and the U of A will be here for the foreseeable future. Employment from the mine will disappear in 20 years when the ore deposit is exhausted.
For negative impacts, we do not have to look very hard. The pecan orchards near Green Valley support 250 jobs that will be placed at risk due to the water withdrawals that the mine proposes for the Green Valley area. Add in the probable loss of jobs in the tourist industry and it is not even clear that the mine would bring a net gain in employment.
Presently, mining only accounts for about 1 percent of Arizona's economy. By the admission of the Rosemont economists, this mine will not significantly increase that percentage. The price in terms of long-term economic and environmental damage is simply not worth the risk.
Finally, the ridiculous suggestion was made that the mine would mean an increase in tourism. We should all ask ourselves, "When was the last time that we heard someone telling about a great weekend trip to view old mine pits?"
The real choice is between some new jobs for 20 years, with the copper and royalties leaving the country, or (choose any or all of the following) long-term attractions such as sustainable jobs, an intact and beautiful Santa Rita Mountain range, wildlife habitat, an excellent locale for outdoor recreation, the preservation of cultural resources, sufficient water, clean water, clean air, peace and serenity, and a safe and scenic Highway 83.