Rick Grinnell: Consider all the facts before taking a position on the Rosemont mine

2013-11-06T00:00:00Z Rick Grinnell: Consider all the facts before taking a position on the Rosemont mineBy Rick Grinnell Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Whether you are in favor of Rosemont Copper or opposed, your decision ought to be based on the most current facts.

On Sept. 25 (“Carefully consider lasting effects of copper mine on waterways”), Paul Green shared some opinions on the mine that do not stand up to the information in science-based studies in the U.S. Forest Service’s draft of the Final Environmental Impact Statement, EIS, for the Rosemont Copper project.

Among the points we would like to correct:

The Forest Service’s draft Final EIS states the proposed project will produce about 1.2 billion tons, not 2.6 billion tons, of mine waste (which Green based on Arizona Department of Environmental Quality figures).

The “groundwater model” predicting water level drops of 600 to 900 feet in the Sonoita Plain due to the Rosemont project conducted in 2012 by W.R. Osterkamp was, in fact, a simplified exercise. In his report, Osterkamp states his results were based on a “quick estimate of pressure head drawdown … using rough estimates of parameters.”

The findings of two separate consulting companies (Montgomery and Associates, 2010; and Tetra Tech Inc., 2010) commissioned by Rosemont developed independent, peer-reviewed groundwater models for the Draft EIS that clearly contradict Osterkamp’s conjectures. Additionally, the Pima County Regional Flood Control District hired a consultant to develop a computer model of the groundwater flow regime of the proposed Rosemont project (Myers, 2008). The two independent models show that impacts of groundwater drawdown to the Sonoita Plain are not predicted.

Green asked, “Will this foreign-owned mine, which will likely export the ore it extracts and profits that it makes, bring benefits to our community that outweigh the devastation to our natural environment?” Our response is yes.

Rosemont Copper, an Arizona corporation, will have an annual economic impact of more than $700 million, and add more than 2,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities to our region. Further, the implementation of new age environmental protection and mitigation measures will be unparalleled in the world. Rosemont Copper will help strengthen our economic environment that, in turn, sustains our ever-increasing needs and the financial resources to protect our environment.

Rosemont Copper is committed to protecting our environment. In support of this, an Oct. 29 release from the Arizona Game and Fish Department announces its “Agreement in Principle” that Rosemont would fund, and Game and Fish would implement, certain wildlife conservation actions should the Rosemont Mine become a permitted activity through the federal process.

The conservation actions would support implementation of certain federally required measures, but also are designed to offset the mine’s impacts to and provide benefits to “Arizona trust species” (those species that aren’t federally listed as threatened or endangered). The actions would also provide for wildlife-related public recreational access.

“This agreement provides a range of conservation actions that Rosemont and Game and Fish would work together to implement, should the mine become a reality,” said Game and Fish Director Larry Voyles. “The mine retains responsibility for any federally required impact mitigation, but I am encouraged by the company’s commitment to the important Arizona wildlife interests the federal compliance process did not tackle.”

Voyles added, “We focus our energy and efforts on working to achieve the best results for Arizona and the wildlife resources we manage in trust for the citizens of our state.”

The Southern Arizona Business Coalition encourages Arizona Daily Star readers to learn the facts before reaching conclusions about business opportunities that will generate greatly needed income in Southern Arizona. The “Agreement in Principle” and more information are posted at www.azgfd.gov/Rosemont

Rick Grinnell is vice president of the Southern Arizona Business Coalition, which supports the development and growth of sustainable, responsible businesses in Southern Arizona. For more information go to SoAzBC.com or email the group at info@SoAzBc.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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