For nearly ten years, Rio Tinto has avoided divulging any real details of its proposed huge underground block cave mine under Oak Flat. Instead, Rio Tinto has spent their time trying to convince the US Congress to pass special interest legislation that would privatize Oak Flat and avoid most of the federal process for permitting mine on public land.
Last November, in an effort to revive their floundering 12 version of the Oak Flat land exchange bill, Rio Tinto bowed to pressure from both sides, and released a mining plan. Rio Tinto's PR since the release of the plan has been "we gave you the plan, now give us the land exchange."
Still not wanting to release any real details of their plans for Oak Flat, the plan is incomplete. However, there are enough details in the plan Rio Tinto released that show for the first time, how dangerous a mine at Oak Flat, with the resulting toxic tailings dump upstream from Queen Valley and loading facility at Florence Junction, would be.
We have prepared a fact sheet that shows the incomplete nature of the plan, and how dangerous the proposed mine would be. Now we know why Rio Tinto was so reluctant to release details. Just a cursory look at the plan shows that it would be a disaster for our communities and our environment.
The Tonto National Forest has received a copy of the plan and has begun a completeness review of the plan to determine whether the plan is complete enough to begin the federal review process mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Tonto National Forest says it will take at least six months to conduct this completeness review. In our view, the plan is so incomplete, it should only far less time to reject the plan.
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