In December 2007, the Marana Town Council adopted a resolution opposing development of the Rosemont Copper Mine on the northeast flanks of the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson.
Last week, the current council backed away from that position, assuming a neutral stance toward the controversial project.
"We are not opposed," Mayor Ed Honea said after the governing board unanimously rescinded the 2007 language.
In 2007, Rosemont "was kind of a pipe dream," said Honea, who was mayor at the time. Opponents had suggested Rosemont "would rape and pillage, that it was a horrible thing." At that time, the council heard no presentation for or against the mine.
Circumstances have changed, with more difficult economic conditions, new information about "the positive economic impacts" of the mine on the local economy, and new information relating to Rosemont's environmental effects, according to the new resolution.
In its literature, Rosemont claims the new mine would create 406 direct jobs, another 1,700 indirect jobs, $3 billion in personal income over the mine's life and more than $19 million a year in local tax revenues. An Arizona State University study indicates the mine would generate $15 billion in new economic output over its life.
Opponents believe Rosemont would scar the Santa Rita Mountains and consume too much water, among other positions.
Several council members have toured the property and visited with Rosemont officials. "We've been able to see what the operation would entail," Honea said. And the council was represented at a Sept. 7 forum put on by the Marana Chamber of Commerce, at which both sides of the debate were represented.
"We decided we acted too hastily without enough information," Honea said. Marana businesses and residents "may be positively impacted by this project through the creation of jobs and bid contracts," the mayor wrote in narrative for the council.
By passing the resolution, "the mayor and council … will not be at opposition to any Marana business or resident that may be positively impacted by this project," it indicates.
At some point, there may be "some impetus" among council members to adopt an affirmative resolution concerning the copper mine, Honea said. "That's an action we might take in the future."