Recent Press on the Oak Flat Land Exchange

The Wall Street Journal published an article on March 2, 2010 talk about aggressive programs that both Rio Tinto and BHP (who own Resolution Copper) to replace human workers at their mining operations with robotic equipment.  Right now in Australia, Rio Tinto is controlling much of the operation of 11 iron mines in the Pilbara region of Australia from an operation center in Perth, 800 miles away.  The robotic machines have already eliminated thousands of man-hours every year at these mines through its use of robots.  BHP is working with Caterpillar to design and build a remote controlled mining haul trucks.  While this automation would help the company’s bottom line, it would eliminate many mining jobs and not lead to the nearly the number of jobs in Arizona that the land exchange’s proponents are touting.

The Nation on March 11, 2010, chronicles the labor lockout that is ongoing at Rio Tinto’s Borax mine in California.  The articles author, Mike Davis, talks about extensive human rights and labor problems that Rio Tinto has had at some of its foreign operations in Papua New Guinea on the island of Bougainville and the Grasberg  mine in Irian Jaya.  The article also talks about Rio Tinto’s labor record in South Africa and at the Bingham Canyon mine near Salt Lake City.  Rio Tinto’s actions at all of these mines is not what one would expect from a good corporate citizen and runs counter to the public image that Rio Tinto is trying to portray here in Arizona.

The Tucson Weekly, on March 17, 2010 published An Article called Sacred and Profane by Tim Vanderpool.  The article is a good overview of the struggle to stop the Oak Flat Land Exchange and also promotes the Tucson Premiere of The Great Oak Flat Land Giveaway (March 24 at the Screening Room at 7:30).  Vanderpool points out that the Glamis Mine in southern California was stopped because it infringed on the religious freedom of the Quechan Tribe.

On March 18, Indian Country Today published an article about growing Tribal opposition to the land swap that included a great slide show of Oak Flat.  San Carlos Apache Tribal Chairman, Wendsler Nosie, Sr., said in the article, “The one thing that ties us all together in this is the water,” said San Carlos Apache Tribe Chairman Wendsler Nosie. “Once that water is polluted and destroyed, where do we go? The land is holy and sacred, but my argument is not just for the Apache people, but for the people in the surrounding towns, for those people who are not aware of the issues, for those who leave their lives in the hands of mayors and councils and legislators, who aren’t saying this, so I’ll say it for them: The water is life. The water is what’s going to sustain the future.”

Finally, the Arizona Republic on March 19th ran an “article” that talks about the new version of the Oak Flat land exchange bill that Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick introduced in the House of Representatives yesterday.  The Bill, HR 4880, contains the same language as the McCain compromise that passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last December.  As usual, the Arizona Republic wrote an opinion piece disguised as a news article in their continuing quest to booster the mine.