A subsidiary of Rio Tinto and BHPBilliton (the two biggest metal mining companies in the world, by annual revenue and market capitalization) is proposing to mine a rich copper vein on public and private lands east of Superior, Arizona.
Because the copper lies partially under a public campground that has been withdrawn from mining, the company, called Resolution Copper, hopes to pass a land exchange bill in Congress to obtain title to the campground.
A place worth protecting
The proposed mining area is not only prized by birders, campers, climbers and hikers, the tribes in the area consider it sacred. The San Carlos Apache tribe is actively opposed to the land exchange and potential mine because of the destructive impacts it would have on the surrounding ecosystem and traditional use lands.
Keep public lands public
Given the religious and recreational significance of the site, Earthworks opposes privatizing the 3,000+ acres of public land that are part of HR 687, the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2013.
Keeping public lands in public hands ensures that not only are the lands preserved for multiple uses, but that if a mine is to move forward, the company would go through a federal review process with adequate public involvement.
The San Carlos Apache Tribe, White Mountain Apache Tribe, Fort McDowell Yavapai Tribe, Jicarilla Apache Tribe, InterTribal Council of Arizona and the National Congress of American Indians have all passed resolutions opposing the land exchange.
Conservations organizations ranging from the Sierra Club to the Arizona Audubon Society have also expressed serious concerns. Concerned Citizens and Retired Miners Association has formed to opposed the land exchange and in favor of expanded economic options for the region.