Tentative approval for the Rosemont Copper Mine was shot down on Feb. 4 after the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to submit a formal objection to the Coronado National Forest Service’s final environmental impact statement.
The board’s majority vote, which came after an extensive closed-door meeting, supports the stance of Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry that the study, initially released last November, is in need of more work before any future talks will be held.
While the complete details of the objection will not be formally released until Feb. 14, Huckelberry in past memos to the board has complained about potential negative impacts that could arise with Rosemont Copper Mine’s arrival.
These include an increase in highway accidents, the loss of up to $7 million annually in visitor spending, the loss of significant natural vegetation, and the creation of an unclean lake pit.
Huckelberry has consequently expressed concerns that the mine pit would be situated in an area “unsuitable for such an industrial use,” and that the consequences to the public’s health and safety would be long term.
The project being considered is a 955-acre open-pit mine about 30 miles south of Tucson in the Santa Rita Mountains, land managed by the Coronado National Forest.
Two-thirds of the pit is on land owned by Rosemont Copper Company.
Pete Sabin, assistant manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 570, spoke in favor of the mine during call to the public, saying the project would bring much-needed jobs to the region.
“We have over 100 members out of work in our local,” he said. “These would be good jobs. I know the construction part of it would only be for a couple years, but to a construction worker… I can tell you that a two-year job is an eternity.”
District I Supervisor Ally Miller, who has been in favor of the mine since running for former supervisor Ann Day’s seat in 2012, was the lone dissenter.
Miller also stood on her own when it came to rejecting $12,500 in funding for the University of Arizona’s Mobile Health Program. The program is designed to educate and promote disease prevention and health care services to the community.
Miller said the board has already given the university a significant amount of money for health-related education, and argued it should spend money from a diminishing contingency reserve fund in a wiser fashion.
“The contingency reserve fund is nearly used up for this year already,” she said. “We have used more than $810,000, and if we approve this item, we will only have $9,000 left in emergency contingency fund for the year. It’s time the University of Arizona stops living off the backs of Pima County taxpayers.”
In other news, the board voted 3-2 in favor of naming Damien Clinco as the new state House of Representatives for Legislative District 2. Andrea Dalessandro vacated the seat after a move to the Arizona Senate. Clinco is the CEO of Frontier Consulting Group and President of the Tucson Historic Preservation Board.