Copper World controversy : Canadian-based company plans to build four open pit mines near Corona de Tucson

Copper World Controversy
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 10:56 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A proposed copper mine project continues to dig up controversy.

Last month, a federal appeals court upheld a landmark ruling blocking the construction of an open pit mine on the eastern flank of the Santa Rita mountains.

Now, the Canadian-based company is turning to an alternative strategy. Hudbay Minerals Inc. has acquired thousands of acres of private land adjacent to the Rosemont mine site.

Some rural residents are left feeling cornered by the Copper World Complex.

“The peace and quiet really brought us out here,” said Cathy McGrath.

McGrath moved to Ocotillo Preserve 23 years ago. Her 12-acre property is located a few miles south of Corona de Tucson.

“There were only two houses here at the time,” she said. “We knew someday that would change and that was fine, but never in a million years did I think I would be getting a letter from a mine.”

In April, Hudbay Minerals notified McGrath it planned to purchase 40 acres of state land next to her property. She says workers drilled loudly for several days and nights.

Several other Ocotillo Preserve residents dread what may come next.

“If they were to put tailing piles up and they drain into this [wash], it will go down into this canyon,” said Tom Matthew, pointing towards Corona de Tucson. “There’s a new elementary school about a mile down. It could be toxic!”

According to Hudbay, Phase I of the Copper World Complex includes four open pits, which would produce about 86,000 tonnes of copper each year.

“There has been copper mining up in that area since the 1870s,” said Randy Graf, the president and CEO of the Green Valley/Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce.

Graf welcomes the Copper World development.

“The Sahuarita School District and the Vail School District would both benefit from the tax revenue,” he said. “You are looking at good, high paying jobs; averaging around $100,000 a year. That’s well above the average in Pima County.”

Darlene Rudolph argues the jobs are temporary, but the damage is permanent. She’s concerned about the loss of habitat, blowing dust and potential flooding.

Last Thursday, the Pima County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution opposing the Copper World project.

Graf says Hubday Minerals is committed to being environmentally responsible. He says the mines will also fuel green energy.

“Those big windmills that folks tend to like each require 2,000 pounds of copper,” said Graf. “Your cars, your homes; we use it every day.”

Hudbay Minerals will start Phase I of the Copper World Complex when it receives the required local and state permits.

Copyright 2022 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.