Sustainable Tucson comments on proposed Rosemont Mine
Sustainable Tucson is a non-profit, grass-roots organization that builds regional resilience and sustainability through awareness raising, community engagement and public/private partnerships. We recognize the need to focus on sustainability within the Sonoran bioregion.
The proposal by the Augusta Resources Corporation to develop a copper mine in the Santa Rita mountains is troubling to us for many reasons.
One of our visions is that water sustainability be assured for future generations and the environment. The mine will be pumping precious groundwater for mining operations in an area surrounded by farming and ranching operations, already stretched beyond local carrying capacity. They will have an allotment of CAP water for recharge, which may or may not fully replace the pumped water and likely be of higher salinity. Climate research continues to reinforce the likelihood that Arizona faces a future that will become more arid and include multi-decadal droughts. Decreasing snowpack in the Colorado river watershed increases the likelihood that waters delivered as our CAP allotment is far from assured into the future. This leaves ground water and renewable harvested rainwater as our major water sources going forward. Sustainable Tucson believes this mine would be a serious threat to water security in the region and would harm nearby communities, farms, and ranches irreparably. On the issue of groundwater quality, all the activities associated with mining, e.g., tailings, leach pits, waste rock, etc., present an unacceptable risk of harm to the aquifer. Additionally, the secondary effects on riparian habitats and their plant and animal populations would most likely be devastating.
Another of our visions is that food be safe, healthy, and regionally produced. Our attempts to move toward regional food security would be threatened by the negative impact the mine would have on water resources available for growing food. We oppose any operation that would jeopardize the success and even the very existence of the small family farms in the area. We consider water for growing food to be a higher use for a precious and very limited resource.
Another vision is that life-affirming cultural and spiritual practices be honored. We believe the negative impacts on or actual destruction of the cultural resources of the area, such as historic properties, critical archaeological sites, tribal sacred sites and resource gathering sites are unacceptable.
Our vision that meaningful work be available to every person is not fulfilled by this mine. We believe that right livelihood does not undermine the natural world that supports us and that short term jobs are no compensation for a degraded future.
Considering the potentially negative economic impacts to our important recreational and tourist industry, degradation of roadways, harm to public health through reduced air quality, loss of the natural beauty of the area, and degradation of astronomical “night sky” quality, we conclude that any potential economic benefit that can be claimed by the developers of the mine is far outweighed by the harms and damages to people and nature that will likely result. It is very important to keep in mind that long after this mining operation ends, we will be left with the permanent damage to a vital area forever.