Following a day-long court hearing on July 23, a federal judge in Tucson, AZ has said he will decide on a number of issues that could impact the future of the proposed Rosemont copper project.
Among the top issues to be decided are if the U.S. Forest Service can legally say not the mine; How to tell if the mine is likely to illegally destroy critical habitat, in this case for the endangered jaguar and how broadly to examine the impacts in permitting a small but important slice of the project — its discharge of fill material into washes atop which the mine would be built.
The Arizona Daily Star reported that these were among many other issues that were argued in detail at a daylong court hearing on five lawsuits opponents have filed to halt construction of the $1.8 billion mine in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson.
The suits challenge various approvals by the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers for what would be the third largest copper mine in the United States.
U.S. District Judge James Soto said he would rule by Thursday, August 1, on at least some of these suits.
He could rule on efforts by opponents to get injunctions that would block construction until the judge can rule on the suits’ legal merits. Or, in the case of lawsuits against the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service, which were filed two years ago, he may even be ready to rule on the merits.