The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the final government permit needed to start construction on the Rosemont Mine, a Corps spokesman said Friday afternoon.
The Corps gave Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals a federal Clean Water Act permit allowing it to discharge fill material and other kinds of material into several washes on the mine site to accommodate the project. The permit came nearly eight years after Hudbay’s predecessor Augusta Resource Corp. first applied for it, and nearly 12 years after controversy over the mine first erupted.
If the $1.9 billion project can survive several lawsuits from Indian tribes and environmental groups, Hudbay will be able to start construction later this year and begin mining two and one-half years later.
The mine has long been hailed as an economic boon by local business groups due to its plans to create more than 500 permanent jobs, paying more than twice the current median income for a job in Pima County.
The mine will generate about $136.7 million in tax revenues for state and local governments over the project’s estimated 20-year life, Hudbay says. It will be the country’s third largest copper mine, accounting for 10 percent of annual U.S. copper production, Hudbay says.
But it’s also been denounced as an environmentally destructive project by the Tohono O’Odham and other tribes, and a coalition of environmental and community groups operating under a larger group known as Save the Scenic Santa Ritas. They’re concerned that it will pollute streams, dry up wells owned by neighboring residents, damage key habitat for endangered species and destroy important cultural resources, along with causing numerous other environmental impacts.