The National Defense Authorization Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama and with it, a land swap agreement that gives Resolution Copper 2,400 acres of federal land near Superior, AZ in exchange for 5,400 private acres. The land swap paves the way for Resolution Copper to begin development of its $6 billion copper project there.
Resolution Copper is a joint venture of Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton. The Resoultion Copper project is nearly 7,000 ft deep and could produce about 500 kt/s (550,000 stpy) of copper, which would meet about 25 percent of the United States’ demand for copper.
The land swap was first proposed nearly 10 years ago and it was until the proposal became part of the National Defense Authorization Act was it passed.
The Wall Street Journal reported, that the Native American representatives groups, including the National Congress of American Indians, have argued the federal land in the Tonto National Forest is a place of worship for the Apache and Yavapai people, and is home to ancient settlements and burial sites.
“Passage of the land exchange at Resolution will help us establish the full potential of the resource and provides a clear road map to commercial development,” Rio Tinto copper chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said in a statement emailed to The Wall Street Journal.
Jacques said the copper market outlook is strong and that Rio aims to ensure it is able to capitalize on future demand for the metal, used widely in construction and manufacturing. “Resolution is a central component of our copper strategy and we are willing to invest in development over many years to bring high-quality, long-life copper assets into production,” he said.