On February 21, 2013, the town of Superior officially terminated its Mutual Benefits Agreement with Rio Tinto and withdrew it’s letter of support for the Oak Flat land exchange.  

The town’s letter begins, “Due to the financial condition of the Town of Superior, I have been instructed to inform you that we regret that we can no longer express our unqualified support of the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act (HR 687 or SB 339, as drafted.)”

The letter cites 6 reasons for the termination with its relationship with Rio Tinto:

  1. the Town cannot afford the purchase of land contemplated in the agreement and in the Oak Flat land exchange (HR 687 and S 339).  The land exchange would allow the town to buy several parcels of federal land at full appraised value.  However, the Town’s letter points out that the Town already either owns or is permitted to use most of the land that the land exchange would offer Superior to purchase.
  2. The terms of the agreement are unfair to the Town.
  3. The agreement created a “Social Impact Committee” to decide how any money received fro Rio Tinto as part of the agreement would be spent. the agreement limited use of Rio Tinto money to educational and sports facilities which could be an illegal delegation of the Town’s budget and legislative authority.
  4. The Agreement zoned certain mine property within the Town as Industrial which could also be illegal.
  5. The agreement would allow Rio Tinto to bargain away any part of its offerings to the Town of Superior if it were deemed necessary by Rio Tinto to pass the land exchange.
  6. The motion to approve the agreement was made by a former Town councilman who was indited and convicted by the State of Arizona for having a conflict of interest in regard to the agreement since he worked for Rio Tinto.  This alone was reason to nullify the agreement.

Rio Tinto has been heavy handed throughout the history of the Oak Flat land exchange in dealing with the town of Superior and apparently the Town has had enough.  The Town of Superior has made it crystal clear that they no longer support the Oak Flat land exchange.  This is yet another reason why this piece of special interest legislation should be terminated once and for all.  

Go here to see the Town of Superior’s letter to Rio Tinto.

Go here to see the Town’s press release.