Resolution Copper land swap vote delayed

November 14, 2013

The federal land swap act that would have paved the way for Resolution Copper Co. to build the largest copper mine in North America was pulled from the House floor on Nov. 13.

Congressional supporters of the project canceled a vote on their bill after a strong lobbying effort against the mine by Native American tribes throughout the nation, dealing a major setback to supporters of the mine and the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ).

The San Carlos Apache Tribe, which fears the mine will destroy its sacred land, reached out to tribes across the country for help in stopping the project.

Those tribes then lobbied Republican House members in states with significant Native American populations to oppose a federal land swap, Ganett news reported.

The bill was scheduled to come to a vote Nov. 13 in the midst of a Tribal Nations Conference that brought tribal leaders, including San Carlos Chairman Terry Rambler, to the nation’s capital to meet with White House officials.

Gosar said he would try to introduce the bill again. He and other supporters of the mine say it would create more than 3,700 jobs, generate more than $61billion in economic activity over the 66-year life of the mine, and supply 25percent or more of the nation’s demand for copper.

“Today’s setback will not discourage me from my continued fight for this important Arizona jobs bill,” Gosar said in a statement. “I am disappointed that a mine of national significance that would have employed so many Native Americans was opposed by the leadership of the San Carlos Apache Tribe — a tribe plagued with excessively high unemployment and poverty.

The decision by the mine’s supporters to pull their bill is the latest twist in a saga that dates to 2005, when Resolution Copper began seeking a federal land exchange. Eleven versions of a land-exchange bill have been introduced in Congress.

If the bill was approved by both chambers of Congress, Resolution Copper would get about 971 ha (2,400) acres in the Oak Flat area of the Tonto National Forest in return for giving more than 2,000 ha (5,000 acres) of environmentally sensitive land throughout Arizona to the federal government.

Resoultion Copper Co. submitted a plan to the U.S. Forest Service on Nov. 11 detailing how it plans to operate its proposed copper mine near Superior, AZ.

The Forest Service review of the mine plan of operation is expected to take about six to nine months. Agency officials will determine whether they believe the plan is complete or needs to be amended.

“Resolution Copper is disappointed that a vote on (the bill) did not occur today,” company spokesman Troy Corder said. “We are focusing on the submission of our Mine Plan of Operation to the U.S. Forest Service this week. We are confident that our MPO will dispel misinformation around the project and establish that we have submitted the project for regulatory review. We feel that as the details of the MPO emerge, support will continue to grow for the legislation.” 

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