On Friday, March 1, 2024, an eleven-member panel of 9th Circuit court judges ruled in a close 6-5 ruling to not grant a preliminary injunction to stop the Oak Flat land exchange as the Apache Stronghold’s lawsuit requested.

 Initial press on the ruling made it seem that the court ruling clears the way for the Resolution Copper mine proposal which would destroy Oak Flat, a sacred site and a recreational and ecological haven on public land within the Tonto National Forest.

 However, the ruling does no such thing.  As Chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, Terry Rambler said in recent press statement, “The culturally and environmentally devastating Resolution project is no closer to construction today than it was before the appeals court ruling.”

 The next step for the Apache Stronghold case would be to ask the US Supreme Court to hear the case. Whether the Supreme court agrees to hear the case and whatever the decision is, the full Apache Stronghold case still must be heard on its merits.

 Two other lawsuits have been filed alleging serious deficiencies in the US Forest Service’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) that was released in January 2021 and promptly rescinded in March 2021.  One lawsuit was filed by the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition, other conservation organizations and the Inter Tribal Association of Arizona, Inc.  Another lawsuit was filed by the San Carlos Apache Tribe.  These two lawsuits will become active again when (if) a new FEIS is issued.

 Beside these lawsuits, several US federal agencies must give approval for the project.  Resolution Copper must purchase Arizona State Trust Land for their toxic waste dump and for additional land at Oak Flat and it must secure a host of other federal and state permits and approvals for the project.  The state of Arizona has every right to refuse to sell land to Resolution Copper and state and federal agencies are not required to grant permits for the mine.

 Finally, Rio Tinto and BHP, the parent owners of Resolution Copper, have not decided whether the Resolution Copper mine proposal is even feasible and whether they would approve funding for the project.  The Board of Directors of both foreign mining companies will not determine for several years at least whether to allow the project to move forward.

 The Arizona Mining Reform Coalition feels strongly that this proposal is an experiment that will fail and should be stopped solely on its “merits.”

 As you can see, this is not a done deal and there are many avenues to stop this proposed project and the destruction of Oak Flat and thousands of additional acres of public and state trust lands.

Read the San Carlos Apache Tribe Press Statement