Check out these news articles about our struggle to protect Oak Flat
Mother of a Metal, Phoenix Magaizine, June 2017, by Keridwen Cornelius
Massive copper mine tests Trump’s push to slash regulation, Reuters, July 12, 2017, by Emily Flitter
What’s at Stake in Oak Flat, Edible Baja Arizona, November/December 2017, by John Washington
Photos of our trip to London to adress the Board of Directors of BHP, Billiton (the minority owner of the proposed mine at Oak Flat)
Please comment now to protect precious Arizona groundwater
The deadline for comments is Tuesday, February 27, 2018, so act now!
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently accepting comments for a draft permit that would allow a brand-new mining company with no track record to pollute Arizona groundwater to extract copper from Arizona grasslands rich in cultural heritage just upstream from the Willcox playa, winter home to thousands of imperiled Sandhill cranes.
The permit would allow the company to drill 1,400 wells and inject over 7,000,000 gallons of sulfuric acid a day into the groundwater.
In-situ mining is a type of mining that injects acid into the ground to dissolve copper and other minerals. This toxic solution of copper and acid is then pumped from the ground and processed to remove the copper. In-situ mining, by definition, is the intentional pollution of ground water. In-situ mining has long been used to produce uranium but (outside of several existing mines) has never been attempted to mine copper. No in-situ mine has ever returned the groundwater to pre-mining conditions.
What could possibly go wrong?!!
Please send the EPA comments on this inappropriate project.
For More Information:
Original comments from a Coalition of groups
EPA’s project website
The US EPA will be taking public comments at a meeting in Dragoon, AZ from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, on February 27, 2018.
The meeting will be held at the Dragoon Women’s Club, 1871 North Johnson Road, Dragoon, Arizona.
Excelsior Mining is planning an in-situ copper mine on private land near the town of Dragoon and Texas Canyon (between the towns of Benson and Willcox upstream from the Willcox Playa). Excelsior Mining was formed in 2005 and this is their only mine project.
In-situ mining is a type of mining that injects sulfuric acid into the ground to dissolve copper and other minerals. This toxic solution of copper and acid is then pumped from the ground and processed to remove the copper. In-situ mining, by definition, is the intentional pollution of ground water. In-situ mining has long been used to produce uranium and at several existing copper mines but has never been attempted to mine copper in a greenfields location. No in-situ mine has ever returned the groundwater to pre-mining conditions.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently taking comments on a draft Underground Injection Control permit that would allow the company to drill 1,400 wells and inject over 7,000,000 gallons of sulfuric acid a day into the groundwater.
What could possibly go wrong?!!
Please see our sample comments letter to EPA to use for talking points to use if you speak at the public meeting.
If you cannot attend the public meeting, please send the EPA comments.
Roger Featherstone, Director
For More Information:
EPA’s project website
Please attend a hearing this week to support the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition’s appeal of permits granted to Rio Tinto to dump polluted water into Queen Creek. The Coalition has appealed the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s (ADEQ) improper granting of a permit to Rio Tinto. Queen Creek is already polluted due to mining activity and, if the permit is upheld, Rio Tinto would make the pollution worse.
The hearing will be taking place from Monday, February 5, 2018 to at least Friday, February 9. The hearing will go all day from 9:00 to 5:00.
The hearing will take place at 1400 W. Washington, Suite 101, Phoenix, AZ.
Please drop in at any time (except over the lunch recess) to support our appeal.
As the clock ticks down, you have only 48 (or so) hours left in 2017 to help us do all we need to do in 2018. You are critical to the success of our efforts.
The only thing standing in the way of irresponsible mining company’s plans to destroy precious public lands (with the assistance of increasingly lax federal and state mining laws) is the support of folks like you who share our passion for protecting our communities and the environment.
I’m asking you to act today by making a generous tax-deductible gift to the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition.
Your generosity will help us immediately to:
- Continue to protect Oak Flat against the proposed assault by Rio Tinto and BHP. We will battle on the federal and state levels and in the courts. We will educate decision-makers why they must reverse the Oak Flat land exchange.
- Continue our work to protect the jaguars, ocelot, and other endangered species that live in the Santa Rita Mountains from the proposed Rosemont mine. We are working on the federal and state levels and in the courts. We have sued the US Forest Service for illegally approving the Rosemont mine plan.
- Continue our work to protect Arizona’s precious waters from proposed in-situ copper mines that, if we are not successful, are sure to pollute aquifers upon which we all depend.
- Stopping new and dangerous proposals by the state of Arizona to take over the federal government’s programs that regulate the dredging and filling of waters of the United States and programs that regulate underground injection wells used by mining companies to inject dangerous chemicals into aquifers.
We have a mountain of work ahead of us, but with your help, nothing is impossible when we all stand together to protect the rights of vulnerable communities and the natural places we love.
Due to the new federal tax bill just signed into law, this may be the last year you can fully deduct donations to the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition. If you need an additional incentive to donate, this is it. Donate now just in case!
Thank you for your support and assistance.
Roger Featherstone, Director
Please visit our convenient online donation page and give generously. If you’d rather send a check, you will find instructions on the donation page as well. Have a wonderful New Year!
On June 15, 2017, the Save Oak Flat Act was introduced in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. The Bills would repeal Section 3003 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 and keep Oak Flat in public ownership.
Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) introduced the US House version, HR 2915, with 30 cosponsors from both parties.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced S 1375, the Senate version of the Save Oak Flat Act with four cosponsors, Senators Merkley (D-OR), Wyden (D-OR), Heinrich (D-NM), and Booker (D-NJ).
The success of the Save Oak Fat Act is very important for the protection of Oak Flat.
Please contact your Representative asking him/her to cosponsor HR 2915 and your Senators to cosponsor S 1375. (If your Congressional delegation members are already cosponsors, please thank him/her for helping to protect Oak Flat).
Attend public workshops in Superior and Gilbert to tell the Forest Service to protect Oak Flat
The Tonto National Forest is holding public workshops in Superior, AZ, on March 21 and Gilbert, AZ, on March 22. Each workshop runs from 5:00 to 8:00.
Please attend these workshops to show the Forest Service that Rio Tinto’s plans to destroy 7,000 acres of public land, including Oak Flat, to build a toxic mine are unacceptable.
The Forest Service is hosting workshops to:
- update the public on the status of the EIS process
- describe the alternatives development process, and
- solicit input on the criteria being used to evaluate alternative tailings storage facility locations.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has proposed to renew Rio Tinto’s current water quality permits to discharge polluted mine water being drained from mining shafts on the company’s private property near Oak Flat.
You are invited to comment now on the permit renewal. The comment deadline is September 7, 2016.
Please submit comments now.
Please attend a public scoping meeting on Rio Tinto’s proposed plan to destroy Oak Flat.
The Tonto National Forest will be holding a public scoping meeting on June 9, 2016, in San Tan.
This additional public scoping meeting will be held at the Central Arizona College San Tan Campus, located at 3736 E. Bella Vista Rd, San Tan Valley, Arizona 85143. The meeting will run from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., with the presentation beginning at 5:30 p.m.
July 18, 2016, is the deadline for scoping comments on Rio Tinto’s plan to destroy Oak Flat by building a dangerous mine.
Please send the Forest Service comments to help them understand why Rio Tinto’s proposal is untenable for so many reasons.
The comment deadline is July 18, 2016.
For the last day, the Forest Service is accepting scoping comments to help them prepare a draft Environmental Impact Statement. This is a chance for you to tell the Forest Service why this proposal is so bad, and why it is so important to protect Oak Flat.
The Tonto National Forest has began the permitting process for Rio Tinto’s proposed mine at Oak Flat on March 18, 2106. The first step in the process is a 60 day scoping comment period running from March 18 – May 17. During this period, the public will provide comments to the Forest Service to help them identify the issues that should be studied and included when they write a Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
The Forest Service has scheduled 4 open houses to explain Rio Tinto’s mining plan and to take public comments. Those meetings all take place from 5:00 – 8:00 PM.
- March 31, Queen Valley Recreation Hall, 1478 East Queen Valley Drive, Queen Valley.
- April 4, Superior High School, 100 Mary Drive, Superior.
- April 5, Elks Lodge, 1775 East Maple Street, Globe.
- April 6, Southwest Regional Library, 775 North Green Field Road, Gilbert.
The Tonto National Forest is planning to begin the first phase of the permitting process for Rio Tinto’s proposed destructive mine at Oak Flat, associated toxic tailings dump, and other facilities in the near future. The first phase of the process is called scoping and will begin with a publc comment period for input into what issues the Tonto National Forest should address when they write a Draft Environmental Impact Statement. While the Forest Service is jumping the gun on the scoping process as they do not have current and complete information about Rio Tinto’s current plans, we urge everyone to take part in the process.
The Concerened Citizens and Retired Miners Coalition has commissioned several 3D scale models showing what Rio Tinto’s current plans look like in graphic and accurate detail. These models will be featured at a series of upcoming public meetings we are taking part in to help the public prepare for the scoping process.
Please attend one of these meetings. (More are being scheduled and this page will be updated to reflect the current schedule.) If you’d like to host a meeting, please let us know.
February 19 – Queen Valley
Queen Valley Rec Hall, Main Street, Queen Valley
March 3 – Gold Canyon
Best Western Gold Canyon Inn and Suites at 8333 E. Sunrise Sky Drive, Gold Canyon AZ 85118. (Highway 60 and King’s Ranch Road.)
The models can also be viewed at Oak Flat Campground on the afternoon of February 27 and on February 28 after the March to Oak Flat arrives.