Tribal and conservation groups asked a federal judge today to block a land trade that would hand over thousands of acres in the Tonto National Forest in central Arizona to multinational mining company Rio Tinto for the massive Resolution Copper mine. The Oak Flat area, considered sacred by Apache and other Native people, would be destroyed by the mine.
PHOENIX— Tribal and conservation groups sued the U.S. Forest Service today to stop a land trade that would hand over thousands of acres in the Tonto National Forest in central Arizona to a London-based mining company. The Oak Flat area, considered sacred by Apache and other Native people, would be destroyed by multinational mining company Rio Tinto for a massive copper mine.
“With Arizona entering its 21st year of a long-term drought and the potential to pollute and deplete the town of Superior’s water supply, how can anyone let this happen, considering it would be a failed mining experiment? The east valley municipalities of Queen Creek, Gilbert, and San Tan area beware, this project would wipe out your water supply. The project itself will consume 40,000 acre feet of water a year which is the same as Tempe, Arizona, which has a population of 180,000 people.”
In the wake of Rio TInto’s destruction of sacred rock shelters in the Juukan Gorge in Western Australia in May of 2020, Rio Tinto has made grand pronouncement of how they would never again destory a sacred site anywhere in the world. In light of the caompany’s plan to do exactly that at Oak Flat, what does Rio Tinto’s promises mean?
We’ve written a white paper looking at the similarities between what Rio Tinto did at Juukan Gorge and what they would like to do at Oak Flat.
At every step of the NEPA process, we’ve cautioned the Forest Service to follow their laws and regulations and not bow to Resolution Copper and their supporters. At every step, the Forest has let us down. The results of the review by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation shows us just how flawed the Resolution Copper process has been and just how eager Rio Tinto and BHP have been to place their project over the protection of our cultural and ecological heritage. This is yet another reason why Tonto National Forest needs to write an updated and complete Draft Environmental Impact Statement before rushing to judgement.