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.
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
- 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.