The US Forest Service has issued a call for scoping comments on a proposal to conduct invasive Hydrological and Geotechnical testing for Rio Tinto’s proposed toxic tailings location for their proposed mine at Oak Flat.

The comment period for this action is now closed.  Thanks to everyone that took action.

Rio Tinto’s toxic tailings location is between the towns of Superior and Queen Valley and right in the middle of the Queen Creek watershed.  The toxic tailings location would heavily affect Boyce Thompson Arboretum, a world-class botanical preserve.

In June of 2013, Rio Tinto (through its wholly owned and controlled subsidiary, Resolution Copper), submitted a plan of operations to conduct invasive testing of nearly 25 square miles of public land managed by the US Forest Service.  In November of 2013, Rio Tinto (again as Resolution Copper) submitted a plan of operations for their entire mine complex at Oak Flat which includes an underground block cave mine, a processing facility, and a toxic tailings pile.  This proposed action would allow the testing to determine whether Rio Tinto’s selected toxic tailings location is even possible.  

The US Forest Service is calling for public comments to help them identify the issues that should be looked at as they move forward with the NEPA process for invasive testing for this possible toxic tailings location.

Incredibly, the Forest Service is not planning to include any mention of the full mine design in its analysis of the impacts of this project.  It is absurd to believe that somehow testing for this tailings location is not connected to Rio Tinto’s full mine design.  Rio Tinto plans to excavate a cubic mile of rock and ore from beneath the surface of Oak Flat.  Unless they have a location to dump this mountain of toxic waste, they cannot mine under Oak Flat.

Please go to our alert for more information and for a sample comment letter that you can revise.  The sample letter will give you a number of ideas that you can use.

Roger Featherstone, Director


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