TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A federal judge has stopped the Rosemont Mine, ruling on Wednesday, July 31, one day before construction was set to begin.
The project was halted after U.S. District Judge, James Soto, overturned the U.S. Forest Service’s 2017 decision to approve the mine and its 2013 environmental impact statement.
Soto sided with environmentalists and tribes who filed lawsuits to stop the mine from impacting the land.
Rosemont Copper Company plans to mine 955 acres of land in the Santa Rita Mountains over the next 20 to 25 years. The company projected to extract 1.2 billion tons of rock waste and 700 million tons of tailings. The mine would impact 3,653 acres of the Coronado National Forest and dump approximately 1.9 billion tons of waste on 2,447 acres of land.
Rosemont Copper Company said they had the right to do this on the property, and the U.S. Forest Service accepted their claim. However, Judge Soto said the U.S. Forest Service should not have given the OK to go ahead with construction.
Soto called this “a crucial error,” saying the evaluation was poorly conducted by the U.S. Forest Service.
Rosemont was expected to employ about 500 people, generate $350 million in tax revenue and be the third largest copper mine in the United States.
Hudbay Minerals Inc., the mine’s parent company, announced early on Wednesday, Aug. 1, that it plans to appeal the decision.
“We are extremely disappointed with the court’s decision. We strongly believe that the project conforms to federal laws and regulations that have been in place for decades,” said Peter Kukielski, interim president and chief executive officer. “We will be appealing the decision as we evaluate next steps for the Rosemont Project.”